The 2019 Governor's Volunteer Stars Awards took place in Franklin, Tennessee on February 9, 2020 at the Marriott Hotel to honor and celebrate volunteerism in Tennessee. Harpeth High Senior Emily C. Johnston was nominated and awarded from Cheatham County for the Youth Volunteer of the year.
The Governor's Volunteer Stars Awards (GVSA) is an initiative from Volunteer Tennessee that seeks to recognize outstanding volunteers from each of Tennessee's 95 counties. With the program now in its twelfth year, participating counties conduct a call for nominations and recognize one outstanding youth and one outstanding adult volunteer. The Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards also recognizes one business and one non-profit from each of Tennessee’s three Grand Regions for their outstanding community involvement and service.
Emily serves at the local chapter of Best Buddies as well as an active volunteer and advocate for the Special Olympics and Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.) Chapter. The Harpeth Senior also has involvement in Tennessee Teen Institute, Girl Scouts soccer, lacrosse, track and field as well as works for clothing and donation drives for the homeless.
Last year, Emily embarked on a mission to bring a handicap swing to parks in Cheatham County. She met with County Mayor Kerry McCarver, Town of Kingston Springs Mayor Tony Gross and City Manager John Lawless. The work continues to bring a swing to Burns Park in Kingston Springs as a result of Emily’s focus and drive.
The meeting with the county mayor led to his nomination for Johnston. “Emily was so focused on the swing project to include and connect those with special needs at our parks. She did all the homework on options and pricing. I found her drive and passion for special education and others in our community making such a positive difference in Cheatham County. She is a natural leader bringing people together to get things done in such a positive, uplifting way,” said Mayor McCarver.
Emily is the daughter of D.J. and Cynthia Johnston of Kingston Springs. She is a member of Harpeth Baptist Church. Emily will graduate 2020 from Harpeth High School. She is the sister to Harpeth Alumni, Zackery Wakefield and Harpeth Middle Schooler Zandria Johnston.
Emily plans to go into Special Education at The University of Tennessee Martin, fall 2020. She also wants to become an advocate for special needs students/families with an additional interest in school law, focusing on Section 504 civil rights statue (1973).