Cullowhee resident Roy Osborn receives the Humanitarian Award

Cullowhee resident Roy Osborn receives the Humanitarian Award for his years of volunteer service to area organizations and projects.

The Jackson County NAACP Branch honored area individuals and organizations at the fourth Biennial Humanitarian Awards on Nov. 6.

Oralene Anderson Graves Simmons, Civil Rights leader and award-winning founder of Asheville’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast, gave the keynote address.

“The Humanitarian Awards ceremony “celebrates the self-sacrificing work of outstanding individuals and organizations that are dedicated to solving critical social problems in Western North Carolina,” said Cynthia Faircloth-Smith, chair of the Freedom Fund that oversees the awards. “‘The Journey to Freedom Together’ was the theme of this year’s program and inspires us to work together to create a humane and just community for all people in Western North Carolina.”

This year’s award for an organization was presented to The Giving Spoon, a nonprofit in Bryson City that provides food resources and outreach to reduce hunger in Swain County. Director Kathleen Burns started the organization in 2019. It currently serves more than 700 free meals twice a week to an average of 225 participants.

The individual award was given to Roy Osborn, a long-time volunteer from Cullowhee. His humanitarian efforts in Jackson County include directing the creation of Little Free Libraries for children’s books on Mill Street and Liberty Baptist Church in Sylva; coaching intellectually and developmentally challenged young men to compete in golf at the Special Olympics; free computer training for area residents and other humanitarian initiatives.

Special recognition awards were given to the Liberty Baptist Church congregation for their continued support of the Jackson County NAACP and to Selma Sparks, a Macon County resident, former journalist, and lifelong civil rights advocate.

Finalists for the organization award were Circles of Jackson County, St. John’s Garden Ministry and Southwestern Community College’s Upward Bound. Individual finalists were Kathleen Burns, Mary Sue Casey, Elissa Nahid Hashemi, Brandi Hinnant-Crawford, Jenna Kranz, Joyce Stratton, Juanita Wilson and Ann Miller Woodford.

For more information about the Humanitarian Awards, Harriet Tubman “Journey to Freedom” sculpture in Sylva’s Bridge Park, or the Jackson County NAACP Branch, email or call 331-1803.