Three from Carson City nominated for volunteer award |

Three from Carson City nominated for volunteer award

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Three Carson City residents could be named as the state’s top volunteers by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Chuck Kelley and Florence Phillips of Carson City are finalists for the Governor’s Points of Light Award in the senior category. Rosemary Smith of Carson City is a finalist in the individual Northern Nevada category.

Nevada Volunteers picked three nominees in seven categories recognizing Northern Nevadans, Southern Nevadans, youth, seniors, rural citizens, service organizations and businesses.

Nevada Volunteers is a state commission that manages federal AmeriCorps programs.

Five judges chose the finalists after the commission solicited nominations in the fall, according Janet Wright, a Nevada Volunteers manager. Judges scored nominees on their achievement, innovation, endurance and ability to organize, she said.

Phillips, 78, started her program in 2004 teaching English as a second language after serving in the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

“You can only serve so many years and then they tell you to get a real job,” she said.

Phillips began by agreeing to tutor a mother who didn’t have time to go to classes because of her children. Phillips said when she went to the woman’s house, five other people had come to learn English.

The free program now has 135 students and 82 tutors. More than 40 people have gotten their U.S. citizenship with the help of the program.

Phillips said people want to learn English to get a better job, improve their education and to talk with their family.

“I’m still young and active,” she said. “I don’t know what it is to get old except when some of my bones remind me.”

Kelley said he “got hooked” on volunteering in 2001 after the Tahoe Rim Trail Association called for people to help finish the last leg of the preliminary trail around Lake Tahoe.

He now helps build trails, lead hikes and train new leaders.

“You’re building a legacy for future generations and that’s what we strive for,” he said.

Kelley, 70, retired as a California almond orchard farmer in 1999. He spent a few years traveling, but settled in Carson City for the volunteer work.

Smith said she knew when she moved to Carson City 21 years ago she wanted to be part of the community.

She consoles people in the surgery waiting room at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center.

She checks on handicap parking space violations for the sheriff’s department. She tells people about historic homes on tours hosted by Carson City Chamber of Commerce.

Smith, 85, has had health problems recently, but she said she doesn’t have any plans to stop volunteering.

“Someone has to do it,” she said, “and I have the time, and I do what I can.”

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.

WHAT: Governor’s Points of Light Awards

WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Atlantis Casino in Reno

INFO: Costs is $55 per person for a nonprofit, $150 per person for a business and $1,000 for a table for 10. For more information, call 825-1900 or go to