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2023 Standing Awards


The Essential Piece Award

Mary Jane Messer

Mountain Projects

The annual Community Action Employee of the Year Award  – The Essential Piece - shows team members from the boardroom to the mailroom know we value what they do. Winners exemplify "the heart" of community action!

Mary Jane Messer is an essential piece of Mountain Projects. She began her career with the organization in 2003 as an Aide in the Weatherization Department. After 9 years, she moved into the role of Receptionist for the entire agency. Mary Jane is not only the first person that most clients encounter when they visit the office, she is also responsible for tracking unmet needs, assisting in coordinating resources to assist with unmet needs, and fielding more than 300 calls per day. While many would be easily overwhelmed in her position, Mary Jane comes to work each day and serves the community with a smile. She works tirelessly to assure that employees and clients alike have whatever they need to be successful. Mary Jane is very caring and takes her job seriously. She’s meticulous, patient and a good listener. With Mary Jane on the “front line”, Mountain Projects is much more efficient and effective in serving its clients!

Roselle Copeland Stewardship Award

Kelly Cameron True

Johnson Lee Harnett Community Action

The Roselle Copeland Stewardship Award is presented annually to an individual member of the N.C. Community Action Association (NCCAA). The award focuses on exemplary individual contributions to the NCCAA, to the local community or agency and/or the low-income community at large.

“I am extremely proud and elated to nominate Mrs. Kelly Cameron True for this most prestigious Roselle Copeland Stewardship Award. Kelly came on board during ARRA which was initiated by President Obama. Her work ethic, tenacity and grace under such stressful circumstances convinced us that she was an employee worth keeping. Over times there have been many changes but Kelly’s commitment to the agency and the people of Harnett County has remained steadfast and ever evolving. After COVID-19 began, Kelly truly exemplified what a true leader/team player does in time of crisis. Kelly fostered partnerships with various groups, whether traditional or non-traditional, in an effort to provide services to the most vulnerable populations in Harnett County. Kelly is a team player, a self-starter who will always look for ways to enhance productivity, harmony and ensure that all sectors of Harnett County know both who and what JLHCA contributes to the county. She inspires them to work with us and each other as we help people and change lives. During the 21-22 program year, when so many entities were still closed or offered reduced services, Kelly and her staff made sure that Harnett County residents’ unmet needs were being met whenever and wherever possible. She has helped us gain new donors, vendors, relationships with entities in and around Harnett County, and she hasn’t slowed down yet. She is also the CSBG STARS Editor in Chief, and proofs everything and provides honest feedback. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to share Kelly’s story with the community action network.”


Gloria M. Williams Award

TRC, Inc.

The Gloria M. Williams Award is presented annually to a corporation, foundation, or other valuable partners that have helped to advance the cause of the North Carolina Community Action Association and one or more of its members. This award is not for an individual. Rather, it honors an organization that has provided substantial financial, volunteer, or political support of the North Carolina Community Action Association, its agency network, and the families we all tirelessly serve.

For more than 50 years, TRC has provided consulting, construction, engineering, and project management services across the globe. Over the years TRC has supported NCCAA with program design/planning, internal and field operations, payment processing, data quality, reporting, and a host of another program-related tasks. For more than 8 years, TRC has collaborated with NCCAA to employ the Duke Energy Carolinas Income Qualified Weatherization Program and the Helping Home Fund. Since 2015, TRC has worked in collaboration with NCCAA, weatherization assistance program providers, and other local non-profit agencies to help helping secure and distribute funds to participating Service Provider(s) involved in assisting income-qualified customers with reducing their energy consumption by directly installing energy-efficient improvements and providing them with energy efficiency education. With TRC’s help NCCAA has been able to directly administer nearly $50 million in weatherization assistance to more than 10,000 low-income customers across North and South Carolina. Without programs and partners like this those families would have gone unserved. We are proud to announce that late last year TRC was instrumental in helping NCCAA, and its agency network land an additional $21 million (over 3-years) from Duke Energy to expand the Duke Energy Income Qualified Weatherization work to families in the Duke Energy Progress service areas. This new program will allow NCCAA, weatherization assistance program providers, and other local non-profit agencies to serve thousands of additional low-income families across the Carolinas. Please join me in congratulating TRC for its tremendous success and commitment to partnership with NCCAA to empower agencies to help communities thrive.

Lonnie D. Burton Achievement Award

Kevin Cotton 

Welfare Reform Liaison Project

The Lonnie D. Burton Achievement Award is presented annually to an individual who, through the assistance of a Community Action Program, has achieved a significant level of self-sufficiency and independence, while recognition is given to the local Community Action Agency's role in helping nominees to help themselves.

Welfare Reform Liaison Project clients prove themselves time and time again to be extraordinary, even in the face of crisis and uncertainty. These hard-working individuals remain dedicated and focused on life goals to become more self-sufficient. WRLP helps along the way with one-on-one guidance, its proven programs, and support services which include breaking goals down into more manageable steps. All the clients that we serve are amazing in their own way. However, Mr. Kevin Cotton stands out. After serving years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, he knew that a change must come. Growing up, he had the support of his family, however he chose the streets as an outlet. After serving more than 10 years in prisons, he knew that wasn’t a place he wanted to return. Mr. Cotton enrolled into our employment training program seeking to obtain his Commercial Driver’s License. He completed soft skills training and became sort of a mentor to his fellow classmates. His key takeaway from soft skills training was money smarts. After successful completion of soft skills training, he enrolled into credentialed training with Trans Tech Trucking. He obtained employment with a major trucking company which led to housing and personal transportation. Through his hard work and dedication, Mr. Cotton managed to rise above the Federal Poverty Level. One of his favorite quotes is “just because you’re in the driver’s seat, doesn’t mean you have to run people over”. Cotton states “he will forever be grateful for WRLP and the knowledge that was poured into him to become successful. Our Agency Motto: Finish It! Mr. Cotton did just that!

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