The Rotary Club of Knoxville held its annual Peace Award Ceremony at the Knoxville Museum of Art. President Bill MacGrath provided some brief history of the Peace Award, then introduced Kiera Wyatt from C.O.N.N.E.C.T. Ministries to formally introduce and recognize the 2023 Peace Award Recipient, Vivian Shipe on behalf of I AM the Voice of the Voiceless. In her introduction, Ms. Wyatt referenced Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Ms. Shipe graciously accepted the award by providing some background on the mission and purpose of I AM the Voice of the Voiceless. She stated that her faith in God called her to the ministry of speaking up for people who may have no other “voice” to deal with special life challenges such as homelessness, aging issues, health issues, etc. She recognized that these are God’s people and that their needs are real and need assistance.
She acknowledged that the COVID pandemic posed even greater challenges for this vulnerable population of people. But through a lifeline of willing hearts, this ministry never stopped providing services, even during the pandemic.
Referencing a quote by St. Francis of Assisi, “For it is in giving that we receive,” she described the true blessing that can be attained by creating change to make other people’s lives better. She acknowledged that it took a step of faith to pursue this passion, but her faith and the faith of others, enabled her to make it a reality. She also knew that she wasn’t walking alone. She referenced two verses of scripture to help illustrate this:
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done”….Proverbs 19:17
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me……………..whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”….Matthew 25:35-40
In closing, Ms. Shipe thanked Rotary for its work in the community. As community leaders, Rotarians have the opportunity to serve others and help secure resources for our fellow man. We also have the opportunity to speak for the rights of others and speak out against discrimination.
President Bill then presented her with a check for $1,000 and the 2023 Peace Award. He also recognized the members of the Peace Committee: Joe McDonald, Ginny Morrow, Bo Croley, Ellen Fowler, Tim Howell, Eric Lutton, Bob Marquis, Townes Osborn, Ginny Weatherstone, Sam Weaver, and Emma Webb.