Local woman wins national award for volunteer efforts; Site to recognize Carol Thomka
By definition, a volunteer is a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking willingly and without pay.
Keral Kronseder-Vogt, executive director for the Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida, believes one of the organization’s volunteers, Carol Thomka, embodies this definition so much that the coalition decided to nominate her for “The Points of Light National Volunteer Award.”
“Carol is a shinning star of an example of how one person can make a change and what a volunteer can really do,” said Kronseder-Vogt.
Thomka was nominated by the coalition approximately six months ago and received notice three weeks ago that she has been named the recipient of the award.
“I was amazed when I found that I had been chosen,” said Thomka. “I had completely forgotten about being nominated.”
Thomka said she was sitting at home one day working on her computer when she thought she heard a knock on the door. She got up to check, looked out the window and saw no one there so she went back to computer.
“After awhile, I left to run some errands and when I stepped outside I saw a package which looked official,” said Thomka. “I looked at the postmark and it said Washington, but I figured if it wasn’t from the IRS it could wait.
“When I came back home finally, a few hours later, I opened it up and it was a letter from George Bush saying that I had been chosen,” she continued. “I was floored.“
The Points of Light Awards were started by former President George Herbert Walker Bush and are designed to honor volunteers who made a commitment to help meet the needs of their community.
Deb Comella, director of public awareness and development for the coalition, said it was not a hard decision for the group to make when deciding who it would nominate.
“She volunteers on every level,” said Comella. “She has served on our board, leadership direct, our Drug House Odyssey and in many other capacities. She has done everything from programs to emptying the wastebaskets.“
“She is wonderful — a dream volunteer,” she said. “She is committed to our cause and extremely valuable. We consider her part of our family.“
Thomka, however, thinks that she is doing the same thing that so many other volunteers are doing out in the world every day.
“I just do what I can,” she said.
In fact, Thomka added that she feels a little embarrassed about the recognition.
“I was not expecting it, but nevertheless, I still feel happy, thrilled and amazed,” she said.
In addition to a certificate signed by the former president, Thomka will be featured on the Pints of Light Web site at: www.pointsoflight.org as the nation’s volunteer of the day.