Two Knoxville Volunteers to Receive President's Call to Service Award

Communications Deputy Director

Eric Vreeland
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Two Knoxville Volunteers to Receive President's Call to Service Award

Posted: 08/14/2007
Two Knoxville men who have spent thousands of hours volunteering to help Knoxville's homeless community will be honored for their efforts in a ceremony Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 9 a.m. in the Main Assembly Room at the City County Building.

 Philip F. Mangano, Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness will present the President's Call to Service Award to Dr. Reuben N. Pelot, III, and Kennett Hobbs.The Call to Service Award is the highest honor among the President's Volunteer Service Awards and is reserved for individuals who have devoted at least 4,000 hours of volunteer service to their communities.

Mayor Haslam honors Kennett Hobbs and Dr. Reuben N. Pelot, III. The Presidential Volunteer Service Award program grew out of President George W. Bush's 2002 State of the Union address during which he challenged Americans to make time to help their neighbors, their communities and their nation through volunteer efforts.Mr. Hobbs, 78, is a Knoxville attorney who has helped at the Volunteer Ministry Center for the past 20 years.Mr. Hobbs was initially an interviewer with The Refuge program and worked one-on-one to find solutions for individuals in the midst of crisis.He has also offered free legal assistance to the homeless and many others in need. Over the years he served in many roles at the VMC, ranging from being chairman of the board and speaking on behalf of the ministry to washing dishes to help busy staff members. Currently Mr. Hobbs serves as a receptionist at the People's Clinic, a free, walk-in clinic, which the Volunteer Ministry Center offers to help the indigent.

Mr. Hobbs has easily volunteered more than 10,000 hours of his time to help those in need and plans to be there to help for many years to come."Kennett has been a loyal volunteer for over 20 years," Ginny Weatherstone, chief executive officer of the Volunteer Ministry Center, said. "He has done everything at the Volunteer Ministry Center from serving as Chairman of the Board to washing the dishes. He is always willing to do anything that will work toward an improvement of life for homeless people."

Dr. Pelot began helping at the Volunteer Ministry Center with a group of men from his church, Concord United Methodist, who provided breakfast for homeless men and women in the VMC's Dayroom.

Many of them had to avoid certain foods because of the condition of their teeth and Dr. Pelot quickly decided that he could make a greater contribution by filling their teeth and doing other dental procedures than he could by helping fill their stomachs. Within a short time Dr. Pelot, and his wife Barbara, a member of Knoxville's City Council, obtained the equipment and funding needed to open a dental office in the VMC that provided free services to the homeless in April of 1999. Dr. Pelot, 72, began seeing patients there every Friday on his day off.The need was so great that people sometimes started lining up at 3 a.m. on Fridays to see Dr. Pelot. In 2002 the clinic, which had outgrown the original space, moved to a building down the street and now boasts two dental chairs.Nearly a decade after the clinic started, Dr. Pelot, 72, is still there every Friday - assisted by Barbara, their daughter Laurie Gooch, and Julia Freer, a member of their church - providing dental care to help people who otherwise would have to suffer and go without."

Dr. Pelot and his fellow volunteers have put in countless hours to improve the health and life of Knoxville's homeless. His dedication is without question," Weatherstone said. "We're very grateful for what Dr. Pelot and Mr. Hobbs have done - and are still doing - to help those men and women who have fallen on hard times in our community," Mayor Bill Haslam said. "They've seen a problem and they've given part of their lives to help others. It's an honor to be able to be part of this ceremony recognizing their efforts.""We're very pleased that Mr. Mangano is here to present these awards," Mayor Mike Ragsdale added. "It was already a great day for these gentlemen and their families and friends and that just added to the luster of this event."