Announcing winners of 21st annual Volunteer Awards

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By: Staff, Historic Columbia

HC Service Award winner Pat Itter hands out candy at Trunk or Treat event.
HC Service Award winner Pat Itter hands out candy at Trunk or Treat event.

Historic Columbia is happy to announce the winners of this year’s Volunteer Awards.

For the past two decades, Historic Columbia has recognized the dedication of time and energy of its volunteer crew. While the traditional luncheon was canceled in April, HC remains committed to celebrating its passionate volunteers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on many of Historic Columbia’s volunteers, preventing them from participating in the tours and programs that they love and isolating them from their colleagues,” said Betsy Kleinfelder, HC Visitor & Interpretive Services Coordinator. “That makes this year’s awards even more important as we recognize all of the wonderful things they were able to achieve in less than a year. We miss seeing them every day and value their services now more than ever and can’t wait to see them all again soon.”

Historic Columbia has honored the following recipients.

Volunteer of the Year: Stella Cobbs

Stella Cobbs has been with Historic Columbia for a few years, but in that time has been immeasurably helpful – from  guiding school children through various craft projects to setting up events and pouring drinks.  No matter the event, she is always ready to lend a hand.  Showing dedication to learn more about local history and culture, Cobbs never misses a meeting or lecture where she can expand her understanding of these issues.     

Cobbs always approaches these tasks with a smile that brightens all those around her. She is an ideal HC ambassador and we greatly appreciate all that she does for the organization. 

Service Award:  Pat Itter

Pat Itter is a longtime volunteer who has dedicated years of service to Historic Columbia.  She has done everything from lead house and  cemetery  tours to  help teach kids of all ages on field trip  visits. Itter also assists in decorating houses for the annual holiday tours.  Her passion shines through her attire, as she often volunteers while in self-designed period clothing.  

Itter's years of always being willing to help make her more than deserving of the Service Award.   

Newcomer Award: Dianne Pickle  

Dianne Pickle has been with the organization for a year, quickly developing herself into a model new guide. She mastered two house tours and helped with education programs while staying active in other programs. Pickle has been eager to soak in all she can about local history and interpretation, proving to be a valuable addition to HC’s volunteer crew.  

Rising Star Award: Isabell Dickerson 

Internships at HC are an important avenue for college and university students to gain real world experience. Internships benefit HC by bringing new ideas and energy as exemplified by Isabel Dickerson, a history and art history major who graduated from the University of South Carolina in December.

During the fall 2019 semester, Dickerson worked 368 hours for the Museums Department of Historic Columbia. Despite a class schedule that brought her to Columbia only two days a week, Dickerson willingly commuted from Aiken in order to accomplish the goals of her internship.

Dickerson's positive, can-do attitude was a lift for all who worked with her at HC and one that will serve her well in future endeavors. 

Innovative Leadership Award: The Columbia City of Women Steering Committee – Rachel Hodges, Rachel Barnett, Lauren Elliott, Tameika Isaac Devine, Traci Young Cooper, Sally McKay 

Led by Rachel Hodges, former first lady of South Carolina, this committee of dynamic and engaged women worked together to plan and implement the Columbia City of Women project, a partnership between HC and WREN launched in 2019. The initiative has exceeded expectations in fundraising, programming, exposure and impact while helping fill significant gaps in acknowledging the contributions of women in Columbia. As a result of the committee's efforts, exciting new partnerships with local and statewide entities have been formed.

Special Contribution Award: Dr. Lydia Brandt

Dr. Lydia Brandt, an associate professor at the University of South Carolina, has long been an important ally to HC. Recently, she developed and delivered content for the SC Monuments web-based and guided tours, completing eight months of research for the HC board, advisory council, general public and special groups. Dr. Brandt’s work has provided exposure for HC on the complex conversation about monuments and served as the baseline for all work associated with the grant-funded project.  

How to Volunteer at Historic Columbia

The next Volunteer Orientation will be held 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 16. It will be a virtual event that introduces the organization and available volunteer opportunities. To register, contact Betsy Kleinfelder at bkleinfelder@historiccolumbia.org or 803-252-1770 x 24.