WEST JEFFERSON — Iris Morphew has been a volunteer at many local organizations in Ashe County over the years and is still an active volunteer at 95 years old. On July 31, she was presented with the 2020 Governor's Volunteer Service Award for her lifelong commitment to serving the community.
Some of the organizations and locations where Morphew has dedicated her time and efforts include Ashe County Public Library, American Red Cross and Mount Jefferson Presbyterian Church. She commits an estimated 2,550 hours annually to these organizations she volunteers at.
Morphew volunteers at the library every Thursday to shelve and organize the DVD collection. She has also helped with the children's programs and is a committee member of Friends of the Library. She frequently brings goodies to serve other members at meetings and is known for her delicious cheese cookies. The library's kitchen is dedicated to Morphew and she has volunteered at the library longer than almost all of its current staff have been employed.
She has been an active volunteer at ARC blood drives for more than 30 years and is considered an ambassador for the Red Cross. While volunteering at drives, Morphew is responsible for filling out appointment cards, greeting donors and making them feel appreciated. When the local blood drives were held at the National Guard Armory, Morphew would arrive early and clean the tables. She also was known for taking donors home that did not drive.
Morphew has been very active in her church, Mount Jefferson Presbyterian Church, where she serves as an Elder and is a member of both the choir and handbell choir. She also sends practically every church member a card for their birthday each year. Morphew has helped in the church's Kid's Club for many years on Wednesday afternoons and brings snacks and serves as a grandmother figure to the children. She helps out in the church office each week to fold church bulletins and newsletters.
In the nomination letter, it was highlighted that a Morphew has only lived in West Jefferson for a decade and in the past when she lived in Lansing she would drive 15 minutes to meet her volunteer commitments.
"To live in such a rural area, this is just a testament of how committed Iris is in volunteering even in her 80s and 90s," reads the letter.
She was an active volunteer prior to moving to Ashe County and previously resided in Michigan where she served in several volunteer programs. During this time, Morphew was involved in a program reading textbooks to blind students, which included difficult subjects such as Chemistry. She also served as a parent volunteer in the classroom while her own children were in school.