It seems fitting that Rhonda Humbert was raised in the Volunteer State.
The Greene County woman learned the virtues of helping others from a young age, and she continues to provide assistance wherever she is needed today.
As a child, Humbert watched his mother, Anna Mae Cutshaw, take part in family and church gatherings.
“He loved being involved in things, and he instilled that love in me too,” says Humbert.
“He always volunteered at church when I was growing up. Plus, at every family reunion, he was always in charge of the food,” she recalls.
“I remember him always getting there two hours early to decorate and set up. He always makes sure he has a clothes basket full of things — and if you forget something, he always seems to have it in that basket,” Humbert added with a smile.
During his adult life, Humbert has taken on many unpaid, often unseen, roles as a community volunteer in Greeneville and Greene County. The motivation, he said, was quite simple. He just wants to do his part to make it a better place for all of us to live and work. There’s nothing more to it than that, he emphasized. In fact, he was quite strict in noting that no one should ever volunteer for the community for anything in return.
“A voluntary heart is one that never expects anything in return,” says Humbert. “You are doing it for the right reasons; otherwise, you won’t enjoy it — and you won’t stay with it for long. You have to do it for the right reasons.”
Humbert first began volunteering regularly in the community in the 1980s. At the time he was working for a local cable company and was invited by Ronnie Metcalf, of the Greene County Fair board, to put on a line dancing contest for the upcoming fair.
Thirty-seven years later, Humbert is still a volunteer at the Greene County Fair. From those early line-dance competitions, she progressed to organizing and assisting with a number of other activities and special events for the annual Greene County Fair – from celebrity look-alike contests and singing competitions to beauty contests, youth talent shows, concerts, and more.
Today, Humbert not only serves exhibitions at the local level, but he also volunteers at the state level, serving on the board of the Tennessee Exhibition Association.
While Humbert says his first love was always involved in the Greene County Fair, he notes there are many other community projects that also have a volunteer heart.
He has been a longtime Greene County Partnership Ambassador, where he has found himself involved in many different projects.
“I am happy to see all the positive changes that have occurred in society through the various opportunities to volunteer at Kemitraan,” he said.
Humbert is also a longtime member of the Greeneville Women’s Club, known throughout the community for its support of many different programs and causes. Most of the club’s funding comes from its annual Holiday Bazaar, which is traditionally held the first weekend in November at the Hal Henard Elementary School gymnasium. Last year, the event, spearheaded by Humbert and co-chairman Tammy Kinser, raised more than $26,000.
At a club meeting in January, donations were made to several local charitable organizations using funds generated from the 2022 Holiday Bazaar. Among the recipients were Main Street: Greeneville, Roby Fitzgerald Adult Center, Greeneville-Greene County Boys & Girls Club, Greenleaf, Hope Center, 15 volunteer fire departments based in Greene County, and humanitarian outreach efforts in the country of Haiti .
Humbert is also involved in fundraising for the Greene County Relay for Life; March of Dimes; St. Children’s Research Hospital Jude and the local Shop With a Cop program. Among other volunteer endeavors, he also helps with the Capitol Theatre, Main Street: Greeneville, and with his church, Oak Grove Free Will Baptist, where he says he always enjoys helping out with Vacation Bible School every year.
All of these volunteer opportunities were taken up by Humbert while continuing to work full time. He serves as program director for the Foster Grandparent Program in Greene County, leading the 60 senior volunteers who participate in the organization.
So how does this woman find time for a 40-hour work week, plus at least 20 hours a week of volunteer time?
“You’re just taking the time to volunteer,” Humbert said.
She really emphasizes that it’s important to “find your passion” and get involved in a project that “you feel is your calling.”
“You have to find something that you love and that you believe in,” he adds.
Among many recognitions for his volunteerism, Humbert was honored last October with the Volunteer Spirit Star Award. The honor goes to the 21st annual Volunteer Spirit Awards, organized by Greeneville Youth Builders, to recognize people and organizations in the community who donate their time to make a difference.
Humbert was nominated for the award by retired Greeneville Sun Accent Editor Kathy Knight, who is a perfect example of a true volunteer heart in the local community.
On nominating Humbert, Knight wrote, “He was so willing to go the extra mile in everything he did. He is a real pro at getting people to work together and getting them excited about a project.
“Rhonda brings her vast experience to so many of her roles,” continued Knight. “Rhonda isn’t afraid to take the lead, but she will often sit down and hear what other people think about a situation before giving her own. He’s not afraid to jump in and do the ‘rough’ work. He looks for ways to make projects easier and involve more people.”
“You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who does more for this community,” added Knight. “He is one of the most selfless, community-oriented people I know, and we should all strive to be more like him.”
Humbert notes that while not everyone has the extra money to donate to a worthy cause, most people can always do something to help.
“There is an old saying, ‘a little is a lot.’ Even if you can put in a few hours a month, it will make a difference,” he says.
“I love seeing people involved in the community,” adds Humbert. “I especially love seeing the young people show up and volunteer. If the youth of today are not involved, many organizations will not exist in the future. People’s legacy will be lost.
Humbert said many organizations and programs in Greeneville and Greene County are always in need of volunteers.
Right above his head, he quickly listed a list of groups that included: the Keep Greene Beautiful program at Greene County Partnership, Community Wood Ministry, Capitol Theatre, Hope Center, Greeneville Theater Guild, Healing With Flowers, Tabernacle Soup Kitchen, and Appalachian Auditorium on St. . James.
“The Greene County Fair is always in need of volunteers,” adds Humbert, “and we could always use more senior volunteers in the Foster Grandparents Program.”
He acknowledged that there are also many other organizations in the local community that can always help.
The key, he says, is finding what you love, getting involved, and helping to make a difference.