The Presidential Volunteer Service Award program grew out of President
George W. Bush's 2002 State of the Union address during which he
challenged Americans to make time to help their neighbors, their
communities and their nation through volunteer efforts.
Mr. Hobbs, 78, is a Knoxville attorney who has helped at the Volunteer
Ministry Center for the past 20 years.
Mr. Hobbs was initially an interviewer with The Refuge program
and worked one-on-one to find solutions for individuals in the midst
He has also offered free legal assistance to the homeless and many
others in need. Over the years he served in many roles at the VMC,
ranging from being chairman of the board and speaking on behalf
of the ministry to washing dishes to help busy staff members.
Currently Mr. Hobbs serves as a receptionist at the People's Clinic,
a free, walk-in clinic, which the Volunteer Ministry Center offers
to help the indigent.
Mr. Hobbs has easily volunteered more than 10,000 hours of his time
to help those in need and plans to be there to help for many years
"Kennett has been a loyal volunteer for over 20 years,"
Ginny Weatherstone, chief executive officer of the Volunteer Ministry
Center, said. "He has done everything at the Volunteer Ministry
Center from serving as Chairman of the Board to washing the dishes.
He is always willing to do anything that will work toward an improvement
of life for homeless people."
Dr. Pelot began helping at the Volunteer Ministry Center with a
group of men from his church, Concord United Methodist, who provided
breakfast for homeless men and women in the VMC's Dayroom.
Many of them had to avoid certain foods because of the condition
of their teeth and Dr. Pelot quickly decided that he could make
a greater contribution by filling their teeth and doing other dental
procedures than he could by helping fill their stomachs.
Within a short time Dr. Pelot, and his wife Barbara, a member of
Knoxville's City Council, obtained the equipment and funding needed
to open a dental office in the VMC that provided free services to
the homeless in April of 1999.
Dr. Pelot, 72, began seeing patients there every Friday on his
The need was so great that people sometimes started lining up at
3 a.m. on Fridays to see Dr. Pelot. In 2002 the clinic, which had
outgrown the original space, moved to a building down the street
and now boasts two dental chairs.
Nearly a decade after the clinic started, Dr. Pelot, 72, is still
there every Friday - assisted by Barbara, their daughter Laurie
Gooch, and Julia Freer, a member of their church - providing dental
care to help people who otherwise would have to suffer and go without.
"Dr. Pelot and his fellow volunteers have put in countless
hours to improve the health and life of Knoxville's homeless. His
dedication is without question," Weatherstone said.
"We're very grateful for what Dr. Pelot and Mr. Hobbs have
done - and are still doing - to help those men and women who have
fallen on hard times in our community," Mayor Bill Haslam said.
"They've seen a problem and they've given part of their lives
to help others. It's an honor to be able to be part of this ceremony
recognizing their efforts."
"We're very pleased that Mr. Mangano is here to present these
awards," Mayor Mike Ragsdale added. "It was already a
great day for these gentlemen and their families and friends and
that just added to the luster of this event."