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Honeycutt recognized for 10,000 days of volunteer service

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Former Lt. Governor Walter Dalton described Rev. Billy Honeycutt as an "angel among us" during an informal recognition ceremony in his honor recently.

Honeycutt, who serves as board chair at Rutherford Housing Partnership (RHP) and one of the charter members of the nonprofit organization, received the Old North State Award from Dalton on behalf of Governor Roy Cooper. The award recognized Honeycutt's more than 10,000 Days of Volunteer Service with RHP.

Honeycutt, who is also a founding member of Women Roofers, has never been one to accept praise and recognition so he quietly and humbly received the State award on behalf of the Governor.

Surrounding Honeycutt at the reception held at First Baptist Church in Forest City were longtime members of RHP's volunteer group and Women Roofers, RHP Executive Director Mel Ailiff, former RHP director Nell Bovender and a number of other friends. His wife, Terry, who is also a member of Women Roofers, was responsible for bringing her husband to the surprise event.

Ailiff said perhaps Honeycutt's most valuable role has been as a role model for men, women and young people he has led in repair projects over the more than 20 years. Honeycutt's vision helped RHP develop from a small group of volunteers repairing fewer than six projects each year to 400 volunteers repairing as many homes as 100 homes.

Ailiff said Honeycutt has made Rutherford County a better place to live and said those who volunteer beside him are better people and are more aware of the needs of the community.

Bovender said his vision was to raise money to buy materials and recruit volunteers or trained volunteers to provide the labor to repair homes of the county's neediest residents.

She said over the years Honeycutt has done what was needed to provide direction as a member of the RHP board of directors, cooking and serving at spaghetti suppers to raise money, speaking to community organizations and to raise awareness of the needs of people.

He has been a leader in building handicap ramps, roofing homes, building porches and repairing rotted floors in countless homes across the county.

He leads by example, Bovender said, in a "quiet, yet contagious confidence."

"Billy Honeycutt's life is like a beautiful stained glass window in church," said RHP's board secretary Emily Moose. "The light of God's love shines through it and becomes visible for the benefit of all. Even though Billy is very humble, God is glorified through his effort."

As Honeycutt accepted the award before the host of volunteers/friends he has led over the years, he said, "No one does great or valuable things all by themselves. "It takes others to buy in, and join in. To all who volunteer, and who have volunteered through the years to make a difference in people's lives, I am grateful to you."

In a quiet and emotional voice, Honeycutt told a story of an elderly woman whose roof was replaced some years ago. After the task was completed, Honeycutt said the woman told him, " 'I can sleep in my bed at night, and know that I won't get wet', she said."

"That's God's work," Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt encouraged the group to pay attention to opportunities to help others that come into their paths. "To improve the lives of others," he said.

Honeycutt came to Rutherford County in 1978 first to serve a small Baptist church and then became Director of Missions for the Green River Baptist Association 1986-2012. He ended his professional work career as Chaplain of the Baptist Retirement Homes, serving from 2012 to 2020.

Long before his retirement, Honeycutt spent countless hours volunteering with RHP and Women Roofers to make life a little easier for those in Rutherford County and beyond.

In the 10,000 days of volunteering with RHP, Honeycutt also offered hope not only to homeowners but to those with whom he worked.

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