For Cliff Preston, the most joyous time of the week is the time he spends comforting hospitalized newborns. Known as a baby cuddler, Cliff has volunteered for more than 26 years at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Infants need to form vital human connections from birth, and volunteers like Cliff help make this possible while their parents are away. The staff and patients in the neonatal intensive care unit has quickly become a second family to this Gainesville, Florida, native. Cliff first learned about NICU volunteer programs in the fall of 1992 and, before long, he discovered similar opportunities at his local hospital. After going through an interview process and training sessions, Cliff became an official cuddler, and has spent every Thursday morning in the NICU ever since.
Edwin Eugene “Gene” Neeley makes sure that every veteran gets their moment of honor. At 94 years old, the World War II veteran is the secret weapon for the Greater Peoria Honor Flight, where he seeks out and encourages veterans to take a special flight to Washington, D.C., at no cost. In his volunteer role, Gene looks for veterans who have not yet participated in the honor flight, which brings veterans to the nation’s capital to visit the memorials, and helps them understand that their sacrifice is never forgotten. He has become the radiant face of the honor flight, and his love for the brave men and women who have served our country is contagious.
Brittaney Dyer believes in the power of people. As a volunteer water quality monitor, she helps preserve the lakes and streams in her community for future generations. For more than three years, Brittaney has been testing the chemical and bacterial levels of streams alongside the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program and the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, committed to protecting our world’s most vital resource. Brittaney developed a love for the environment at an early age. From spending time at her grandparents’ house surrounded by natural springs, to fishing and walking her dog near local creeks, she grew up immersed in the outdoors.
Your teeth play a larger role than what most people give them credit for. They are an integral part of the structure of your face, and healthy teeth are vital to diet, health and an overall sense of well-being. However, dental hygiene can often take a backseat in people’s lives due to a lack of resources.That’s where Dr. Richard A. Weinman comes in. Devoting several hundred volunteer hours each year across several organizations including the Ben Massell Dental Clinic, Donated Dental Services and Georgia Mission of Mercy project through the Georgia Dental Association, in addition to the Special Smiles program, this Atlanta-based dentist gives his time and talent to treat more than 180 low-income patients annually across the state of Georgia, at no cost.