Strobel Finalists 2023: Direct Service — Older Adult

Congratulations to these three finalists in the Direct Service—Older Adult category of the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards! Vote for your favorite story of service until April 15 using the button below!

Charlotte Thomas West 
Volunteers with Delta Sigma Theta sorority and St. John AME Church

Charlotte Thomas West is a natural-born volunteer. For more than 50 years, she has volunteered with various committees of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Nashville Alumnae Chapter. Through this organization, she has prepared and distributed lunches to the community, collected pharmaceuticals and supplies for Temple Church Mission Trips, helped citizens register to vote, and is currently participating in activities to benefit at-risk youth. She also consistently shows her passion for caring for the elderly, supporting homeless populations and educating underserved communities. 

Within the St. John AME Church, Charlotte is an active leader for their Meals on Wheels and Innkeeper programs. In March 2020, the church was destroyed by the tornadoes that struck the Nashville area. Charlotte worked tirelessly to ensure that the residents of the North Nashville community had access to physical resources like canned goods as well as information about home repairs and protecting their property investments. One year following the tornado, she volunteered with other community leaders to create the North Nashville Community Garden, planning the layout, planting the soil, preparing the ground-breaking and overall helping to execute the vision.  

“Charlotte is a beacon of light in the community with the vision to support the success of North Nashville through volunteer service and leadership in any way possible,” said her nominator. 

David Joseph Weir 
Volunteers with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council

At nearly 80 years old, David Joseph Weir has spent his last 13 years volunteering to help Nashville adults live fuller, more independent lives through his work as a tutor with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council. After retiring from his career in the healthcare industry, David returned to the love of language and the written word that he developed in college and began working with adults in both one-on-one and group classroom settings. David has worked with more than 50 students, both through volunteering for the NALC and those he finds in his daily life. 

David also works with several students outside of any organization and goes the extra mile to care for those he teaches. When the pandemic hit, David learned how to use Zoom, earned his TEFL certification and was one of the first tutors at NALC to convert to online tutoring. 

When a young Hispanic woman whom David was teaching was unfortunately and unjustly arrested, she called David from jail to inform him she couldn’t attend class. David was aware of the difficulties that come with navigating the criminal justice system as a member of the minority group, and accompanied the woman to meetings with her lawyer and court appearances. He visited her in jail, helped her with English and even brightened her spirits with well-timed jokes. After the woman was released from prison and with David’s support, the woman got her job back and finished her semester at Nashville State Community College with all A’s. 

“David honors Mary Catherine Strobel’s legacy of joyfully committing to those in need through his work with the immigrant community in Nashville,” said his nominator. “He tirelessly and selflessly dedicates his time, expertise and privilege to improving the lives of others.” 

Donald Han Lee
Volunteers with Vanderbilt Orthopedics Outreach Day

In 2017, Dr. Donald Han Lee founded an annual orthopedics Outreach Day at Vanderbilt, and for the past six years, he has provided 76 surgeries free of charge for Nashville’s uninsured and underinsured patients. He has fully built and championed the Outreach Day, which demonstrates the significant impact of subspecialized surgical care for charity care patients, who often face debilitating and painful orthopedic conditions. Dr. Lee works closely with Vanderbilt and Nashville community clinic providers to coordinate the best possible equipment and treatment, and is integrally involved in pre-operative, operative and post-operative care. Through these surgeries, patients are finally able to relieve chronic or subacute painful and debilitating conditions that have often been troubling them for years.  

Dr. Lee’s leadership and dedication to his outreach program are inspirational. One year, no other surgeons were able to volunteer, so Dr. Lee attended to each patient and performed every surgery himself. In addition to the direct patient care he provides, he encourages, advises and guides other surgeons planning their own outreach programs at their respective institutions or practice sites. Within his own organization, Dr. Lee holds the same influence and was able to empower many members of a multidisciplinary Vanderbilt team to help among the 60 volunteers at last year’s event. 

“Dr. Lee is an excellent model of someone who uses their unique talents and training to provide a very specialized but very necessary service in the community,” said his nominator. 

To see a full list of the nominees for the 37th Annual Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards, click here.

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