CONCORD — As a member of South Church in Concord, Gladi Hartford was only too willing to step up three years ago to volunteer at the South Church Cold Weather Shelter on Sunday nights.
Initially, she helped to get the homeless settled and left by 9:30 p.m. But when the overnight manager couldn't make it, she offered to fill in. Last year was her first as the overnight manager on Sunday nights.
“You tend to get close to them,” said Hartford, about the homeless who come and tell her stories of their lives. “They're really nice people, and they become your friend.”
Hartford is one of dozens of people who will be recognized Oct. 18 for their unpaid dedication in making New Hampshire a better place.
It will be the 10th year that Volunteer NH will be hosting the recognition ceremony. The Concord organization prides itself on giving advice to non-profit groups on any matters having to do with volunteers.
Nominations came from organizations from across the state, said Dick McIntire, a retired small business owner who is chairman of Volunteer NH.
All the recipients share the trait of unselfishness, he said.
“That's the thing that's most amazing,” Hartford said. “When they attend this event and hear the roar of the crowd, you can tell they're overwhelmed.
“They do what they do because they believe it and love it. To be recognized is icing on the cake,” he said.
The 2012 Spirt of New Hampshire Awards are scheduled for Oct. 18 at the Capitol Center in Concord. WMUR-TV anchor Tiffany Eddy is the emcee, and Dean Kamen has agreed to give the keynote speech.
The award ceremony, which starts at 7 p.m., follows a cocktail reception and dinner designed to raise money for Volunteer NH.
Volunteer NH started the Volunteer Service Awards in 2003. It receives more than 100 nominations from across the state, which are screened to make sure recipients meet the criteria.
McIntire said recipients can be groups or individuals, and they volunteer to do all sorts of work -- helping children, protecting the environment, rescuing animals, mowing the town cemetery and cleaning empty lots.
He said people who volunteer on political campaigns would probably not be eligible for recognition.
McIntire said an important part of coordinating volunteers is to make sure they are recognized.
“As we get into tougher economic times, the need for volunteerism will continue to grow,” he said. “It's volunteers who will fill the void when there is no money.”
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Mark Hayward may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.