Known for her “remarkable” and “valuable” involvement in the community, Elizabeth Bowen was named the Cartersville Service League’s Volunteer of the Year Tuesday.
“First, I would like to thank everyone,” Bowen told attendees of the CSL meeting at the Cartersville Country Club. “While I don’t feel like I deserve this recognition, I am truly honored to be named CSL’s Volunteer of the Year. If not for the requirement of being a former member, I know that any of you could be standing where I am right now.”
Established in 1941, the CSL is comprised of 35 Bartow County women, who serve six-year terms and annually volunteer at least 60 hours.
“We are here today to honor the Cartersville Service League’s Volunteer of the Year,” CSL member Leslie McMillan said. “This is a service award that honors a sustaining member who has shown outstanding leadership and contributions to the community through volunteer service.
“This person is not paid to do the work she is being honored for, but volunteers because she feels led to give back to the community. This definitely describes Elizabeth Bowen, and we are so happy to celebrate her hard work today.”
In introducing her “dear friend and CSL classmate,” Amy Morgan underscored Bowen’s commitment to community service.
“Elizabeth is a staple in the Cartersville community. And she is passionate about service,” Morgan said. “It’s truly her calling. It is very evident in her commitment to several boards, including Meals on Wheels for First Presbyterian Church; Cartersville Middle School PTC board member, which involves volunteering for everything under the sun for three long years; Cartersville High School PTC board member; CMS Band Boosters treasurer; member of the Good Neighbor board; and also a Canes Mentor at CMS.
“Seriously, though, I share this with you today as while Elizabeth’s involvement in our community and service to many boards is remarkable and so valuable, her ability to engage people and make them feel special is invaluable to every person she comes in contact with. She is quick-witted and sarcastic to a fault, but she is real; she is fun; she is thoughtful, and the kind of friend every person needs in this lifetime.”
A Cartersville resident, Bowen and her husband, Brandon, share two children: Tom, 14, and Katherine, 12. Joining the CSL in 2011, Bowen found volunteering to be an eye-opening and rewarding experience.
“I learned much more about the needs in our community,” she said. “Not only do we witness needs firsthand by volunteering at Boys & Girls Club, the Resource Center and the children’s shelter, but we also learn about organizations from speakers. During my time in CSL, I remember learning more about the homeless shelter, Shop With a [Hero] and the foster program.
“… Now that I am on the other side, I realize that each and every volunteer experience was important and taught me more about my strengths and my many, many weaknesses and prepared me for continued volunteer work after my time in CSL.”
Looking to continue her volunteer efforts in the community, Bowen has found a “great fit” with the Mentor Canes program.
“While we have many great organizations and causes in Bartow County, I would like to tell you about a volunteer opportunity that is making a big difference in our community and is always in need of more people mentoring,” she said. “After I finished my time with CSL, I decided I wanted to give mentoring a try. I know some people are able to do this during their CSL term, but for me it was a great fit after.
“The Cartersville City School System’s program is called Mentor Canes and the county’s is Mentor Bartow. I volunteer with Mentor Canes because my kiddos are in the city school system, but the county system is very similar.”
Paired with Audrey since the 2018-2019 school year, Bowen mentors the student at CMS for one hour each week. During their time together, they read books, play games, talk and create a wide array of crafts.
Citing statistics, Bowen emphasized the mentoring program’s success.
“Last year, 150 students were successfully matched with a long-term mentor, meaning their mentorship was for one year or more,” she said. “Over the past four years, the school system has seen a 20% increase in school attendance and a 28% decrease in discipline referrals for those children who are being mentored. All it takes is an hour a week.”
In closing, Bowen encouraged those in attendance to extend their philanthropic efforts beyond their CSL terms.
“By virtue of the fact that we are all gathered here at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, we are more blessed and have more flexibility than most,” she said. “Thus, it is not only our privilege but also our duty to give back to our community.
“As Albert Schweitzer said, ‘Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in [a] world all of your own.’ I hope that all of you will continue to give your time to others not only during your six years in the league but also once you are a former member.”
While serving in the CSL, members volunteer with various organizations and help organize fundraisers that benefit numerous local charities.
With the public’s assistance, the league distributed more than $47,000 earlier this year to over 25 organizations — Advocates for Children, Bartow Christmas Coalition, Bartow Education Foundation, Bartow Family Resources, Bartow Give a Kid a Chance, Bartow History Museum, Bartow County Juvenile Court, Bartow County Library System, Bartow Literacy Council, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, Cartersville Medical Center Project SEARCH, Etowah Scholarship Foundation, Hands of Christ, The Guardian Angels Program, Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, New Beginnings Food Outreach, Mentor Bartow, REACH Georgia Bartow County, Bartow County Shop With a Hero, Steps of Faith Dance Company scholarships, The Bookmobile, Tranquility House, Cartersville Schools Foundation’s Mentor Canes, Footprints on the Heart, Hickory Log Vocational School and The Hope Center Foundation.
For more information about the CSL, follow the organization on Facebook @CartersvilleServiceLeagueSince1941.