United Way of Grayson County celebrated the 2018 efforts of local businesses and volunteers to support area nonprofits with the organization’s Annual Community Awards event Friday night.


The award ceremony was held at Kidd-Key Auditorium in Sherman and recognized corporate, as well as individual recipients in seven main categories before wrapping up with a concert from Texas country-music singer Holly Tucker. Award winners were selected from four applicable criteria, including community commitment, volunteer hours, leadership service within United Way and financial donations from employees. United Way of Grayson County President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Chandler said she did not how many years the award ceremony had been held, but described it as long-running and key in highlighting the community’s contributions.


“I think it’s super important to honor those who have gone above and beyond, on their own, and without being asked,” Chandler said. “There’s no win, so to speak, for them, they don’t get paid, and there’s no recognition, per se. But they still do it because it’s the right thing to do.”


Numerous corporations were awarded by United Way on Friday night. Texas Instruments was named Corporate Champion of the Year and Cigna health care employees were named the Corporate Volunteers of the Year. Douglass Distributing was selected as Advocate of the Year, while Texoma Medical Center received the We Fight United Award and Emerson-Fisher Process Management took home the Humanitarian Award.


“We have incredible corporations and manufacturers here,” Chandler said. “Six of them really stood out and kind of came to the forefront in helping United Way. It’s in their volunteer hours, or serving on committees that help our nonprofits. It’s running great campaigns, and working at the corporate level and the global level to be a great ambassador for Grayson County.”


But individual volunteers and contributors were also honored. Olivia Lewis of Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center was named the Community Volunteer of the Year. Chandler said Lewis’s service spanned some 400 hours amassed on nights, weekends and even holidays.


And Grayson College Human Resources Director and United Way Board Member Jennifer Becherer was also chosen as the first recipient of the Life Member Award in Grayson County. Becherer, who has volunteered with United Way of Grayson County since 2004, said she was glad to receive the award and was proud of her work and the work of fellow volunteers.


“When you get out there and you see not only the needs, but also the difference you can make, it feels good,” Becherer said. “The work matters.”


Chandler said she felt Grayson County volunteers, businesses and nonprofit supporters focused heavily on improving youth and health services in 2018 and that their work was an investment which would benefit all who live and work in the area.


“We have an incredible group of businesses and people in our community that come together to support nonprofits.” Chandler said. “But, ultimately, by supporting non-profits, they’re supporting each other. This is all about working together.”