Volunteer leaders recognized by SC elected leaders during National Volunteer Week

April 23, 2024

Together SC’s Volunteer Admin Alliance, the SC Commission on National and Community Service, Americorps South Carolina and the SC Governor’s Office announced the winners of the 2024 Governor’s Volunteer Awards. The awards will be presented by President of the SC Senate, the Honorable Thomas Alexander, at the SC State House on Wednesday, April 24 at 9:00am with nonprofit leaders and legislators from across the state joining to celebrate the dedicated people who make South Carolina a better place to live and work.

The Governor’s Volunteer Awards are a time to share how South Carolinians serve our state without any expectation of recognition or compensation. These considerate people selflessly use the tools and time available to them to address the needs they recognize in their communities. These volunteers are the embodiment of our state motto, Dum Spiro Spero—While I breathe, I hope. For more than 30 years, these awards have recognized the volunteers who go above and beyond to breathe hope into their communities, inspiring all of us to join them.

Please join us in celebrating this year’s winners:

Americorps Member of the Year: Shenise Johnson-Williams

Nominated By: United Way of the Midlands

Shennise Johnson-Williams has served more than 3 years in AmeriCorps and provided more than 2,500 hours of service helping more than 200 students improve their literacy.

Robin Burns Award for Volunteer Administration: Ray Funnye

Nominated by the Francis P. Bunnelle Foundation

Ray Funnye serves as the volunteer Executive Director of The Village Group working for more than 15 years to improve life in Plantersville, SC. The Village Group works with more than 200 students each to prevent summer learning slide and provide mentorship. They also work to enhance economic outcomes for the community.

Community Impact Award: Philip J. Kiser

Nominated by Meals on Wheels, Bluffton-Hilton Head

Phil has provided more than 115 years of service in Beaufort County volunteering on average for more than 90 days of meal delivery each year. He also volunteers with Meals on Wheels, Low Country Presbyterian, United Way, Kiwanis International, Bluffton High School, Beaufort County Parks and Rec., Hilton Head Island Rec Center, The Haven at New Riverside, and The Athletic Club of the Low Country. Phil’s support for diverse organizations drives community leadership and volunteerism in Beaufort County.

Youth Impact Award: Savannah Mitchell

Nominated By: Savannah Kares

Savannah Mitchell was diagnosed in utero with a lung condition and has been working to defy expectations for her capacity ever since. Now 16 years old, Savannah leads efforts to provide Kare to Breathe Kits to provide allergy-free products to help kids adjust to a diagnosis of asthma. The Kare 2 Breathe 5k in Greenville, SC brings people together to support kids with asthma during Asthma Awareness Month.

Direct Impact Award: Shaniqua Karanja

Nominated By: Radiate Church

Shaniqua Karanja provides more than 500 hours of service each year through the Grief Compassion Network. The Grief Compassion Network helps children who have lost a parent and parents who have lost a child. This is a challenging, hands-on volunteer service working directly with those experiencing grief. Shaniqua has also authored a children’s book to help children and families who experience infant loss.

Family Impact Award: The DiAntonio Family

Nominated By: Pickens County Habitat For Humanity

The DiAntonio Family has volunteered with Pickens County Habitat for Humanity since 1998. Bob, Donna, and their daughter, Lura have served in a variety of ways including on the Board of Directors, building houses, assisting with architectural design, and innumerable other ways. Their creative and resourceful leadership brings hope and homes to Pickens County.

Legacy Impact Award: Cheryl Long

Nominated By: United Way of Allendale, Barnwell, and Bamberg Counties

Cheryl Long’s record of volunteer service in Barnwell County goes back more than 50 years. Cheryl works tirelessly to bring resources to Barnwell County that will improve the community. Cheryl has volunteered with almost every organization in Barnwell County from The Lions Club, Barnwell County First Steps, Barnwell County YMCA, Barnwell County, United Way of Allendale, Barnwell, and Bamberg Counties, Axis I, and many more.

About the SC Commission on National and Community Service:

The South Carolina Commission on National and Community Service was established in 1993 to identify our state’s critical needs and award CNCS-funded grants to programs to address key challenges. Local entities create proposals for AmeriCorps Programs to address issues unique to their community. This bottom-up approach ensures that federal funding is allocated to address South Carolina’s biggest challenges.

In December of 2007, by Executive Order of Governor Mark Sanford, the United Way Association of South Carolina was appointed as the governing authority of the Commission. The United Way Association of South Carolina was a natural fit to serve as the Commission due to aligned goals to leverage volunteerism to improve the quality of life for South Carolina residents. The Commission is South Carolina’s lead agency on volunteerism and national service.

Learn more about the SC Commission on National and Community Service:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmeriCorpsSC

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmeriCorpsSC

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/AmeriCorpsSC


About Together SC

Run by nonprofit leaders and their allies, Together SC serves as the unifying voice for our state’s nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Through its member organizations, the organization aims to support and empower volunteer and professional leaders dedicated to community service, leadership and caring. Together SC began operating in 1997 with 67 charter member organizations. Today, its statewide network includes 800+ organizations, large and small, whose diverse leaders believe in Together SC’s vision for creating a world in which SC’s nonprofits and their allies are integral players in successfully building vibrant, equitable communities. www.togethersc.org