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It all started with a garden.
Former Fayetteville resident Dr. Kenneth Hill was recognized last week as Cumberland County’s top volunteer, winning the N.C. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service and the Medallion Award — the latter presented to the person whose volunteer service most enhances the quality of life for North Carolinians.
Hill — the former pastor at Fayetteville’s Harvest Temple Church, now living and working just outside Washington, D.C., — gave the credit for his recognition to his grandparents ... and that garden.
“I was raised by my grandparents down in St. Mary’s, Ga., from the time I was 6-weeks-old,” said Hill. “My grandfather was a pastor and both my grandparents taught me the importance of giving to and helping out other people. It’s all about the spirit of giving back to the community.
“That message was driven home when I planted a vegetable garden,” added Hill, “and we gave away all the produce I grew to the needy.”
{mosimage}In addition to his former work as a pastor in Fayetteville, Hill belonged to numerous charitable and community service organization is Cumberland County, including the Partnership for Children in Cumberland County, where he served as president for the 2007/2008 fiscal year. Before gaining the presidency of that organization, Hill was the Evaluation Committee chair, as well as serving as board secretary. Hill led the committee and board through strategic planning sessions that resulted in “more focused and strategic planning assumptions and priorities,” according to a press release issued by the partnership.
“I wish we could clone him,” said Maureen McKeon, communications director for PFC. “He is just so valuable and such a wonderful man. He’s continued to work with us even though he no longer lives here ... I just can’t say enough about him.”
Under Hill’s leadership, PFC began the Early Childhood System Report Card which critiques the early care and education system in Cumberland County, keeping residents apprised of the system’s strengths and weaknesses.
Hill has also contributed his own money to the PFC, as well as contacting faith-based child development centers around the county to educate them on the More at Four Program and the need for additional classrooms.
Bri Kay, the PFC events/volunteer coordinator, lauded Hill’s contributions to the organization.
“It is an honor to have Bishop Hill volunteer for our organization,” said Kay. “His influence has changed daily practices, motivated change and inspired others to help move early care and education needs to the front line. He has done and will continue to do, great things for Cumberland County and North Carolina.”
Each county may submit five nominees for the award. The nomination process is conducted at the  county level and then submitted to the state commission for approval. Selection is based upon the nominee’s volunteer efforts, accomplishments and impact. A statewide panel, under the direction of the N.C. Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, evaluates the nominations for the Medallion Award. 
Hill is now eligible to be named the top volunteer in the state.
“That would be wonderful ... to win that award,” said Hill. “I was surprised to win anything. I am honored and humbled to be considered.
“If I win I have to give credit for it to the Lord,” added Hill.

Tim Wilkins can be reached at [email protected]

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