United Way honors volunteers and teens|[2/18/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 18, 2005

A circle was completed in Bobby Shumpert’s life Thursday night.

Shumpert won the Volunteer of the Year award at the annual banquet of the United Way of West Central Mississippi at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

His first experience with the organization was on the receiving end. As a young boy, both of his parents temporarily lost their jobs.

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“United Way came in and helped us. That helps fuel my desire to be a part of the United Way,” Shumpert said.

Now the manager of Wal-Mart SuperCenter, Shumpert credited his employer with encouraging him to serve.

“It just shows that large retailers like Wal-Mart, their managers are involved in the community,” he said.

It was also a bittersweet evening for three seniors at Vicksburg High School who won the inaugural Bruce Alan Ebersole Jr. Memorial Scholarship.

Ebersole, a Princeton University sophomore and 2003 graduate of St. Aloysius High School, died in a swimming accident in October.

He was a charter member and first president of Teen HELP, a United Way auxiliary for young people.

While excited to get the scholarship, all three said they were saddened by the death of Ebersole, with whom they worked as members of Teen HELP.

“It makes you sad, but it’s also a big honor,” said Dorrian Gibbs, who will study anthropology at Mississippi State University.

“I feel very honored because Alan was so close to me,” said Erron Flowers, who also worked with Ebersole as a lifeguard. Flowers will use the scholarship at Mississippi State University to study broadcast meteorology.

“Alan was a wonderful person. His leadership skill helped all of us to be leaders in the community,” said Crystal Martin, who will study pharmaceutical science at the University of Mississippi.

Also honored at the annual event was Diane Gawronski, who won the Leadership Award.

“I’ve very humbled by this. I don’t think of myself as a leader as much as we’re all working together, not just for the United Way, but for Vicksburg,” said Gawronski, who directs marketing and public relations at River Region Medical Center.

The Rev. Tommy Miller of Good Shepherd Community Services was named Agency Director of the Year, and The Vicksburg Post won the Corporation of the Year award.

Alyshia Selmon, Tericka Selmon and Bern Ebersole were named Teen Volunteers of the Year. Bern Ebersole is Alan Ebersole’s brother.

The rest of the night’s winners were: