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The Woman’s Club of Cotulla has announced that it has nominated Novella Byrd as its Laredo Area Hero in La Salle County at the 2020-21 Laredo Area Community Foundation Volunteer Acorn Award Banquet, which annually honors the spirit of volunteerism in the Laredo area.
“A relatively new member, with only seven years of experience, Novella Byrd had made quite an impact in the Woman’s Club of Cotulla,” Woman’s Club of Cotulla and Jefferson Award Nominating Committee Chairman Louisa Franklin said. “Therefore, we are proud to announce her as our nomination for the Laredo Area Hero in LaSalle County.”
The Woman’s Club of Cotulla is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), an international organization with almost 80,000 members in affiliated clubs in every state, the District of Columbia, and more than a dozen countries.
“The GFWC’s mission is to enhance the lives of others in LaSalle County through volunteer service,” Franklin said. “Novella certainly embodies the true heart of the volunteer spirit. She wholly supports and participates in all Club activities, meetings, projects, and programs. She is most deserving of this designation which will become evident after presenting her history of volunteerism.
“Joining the club in 2014, she quickly began to immerse herself in club activities and started a newsletter to keep all members abreast of volunteer activities. She has chaired various committees, including Courtesy, Publicity, Scholarship and Yearbook. She has served as Corresponding Secretary and is now in her second term as President.”
On top of being active locally, Franklin noted that Byrd also dove right in at the district level by starting a Facebook page to keep district members up to date on the projects of seven different clubs across the district. “Her contributions at the local and district level in the area of technology were initiated solely by her based on a need that she saw within the organization,” Franklin said. “This volunteer spirit translated into attention and contributions for the good works of clubs across the district.
“Was it easy to convince older members that the clubs needed to move toward technology – absolutely not! But Novella’s quiet persistence and gentle approach has won over the membership.”
Byrd has also found time to serve at the district level as chairman of several committees including Epsilon Sigma Omicron (for which she initiated a state-level Facebook page), Poetry and Short Story contest, Juniorette Coordinator, President’s Special Project, and Website Contest. She also served as president-elect and is now serving as district president.
“Never one to say no when there is a need, Novella became active at the state level of the organization early on serving as State Juniorette Coordinator and, now, as State Chairman for the Outstanding Federation Program,” Franklin said. “As a district president, she was selected by per peers as President of the District Presidents for this two-year term. She will also be seeking to become the state first vice president in the next biennium. What an achievement in just seven years.”
Byrd was an educator for 28 years, starting as an early childhood teacher and ending her career as a district librarian. A love of reading and desire for all children to have the opportunity to have books in their home has led her to be an ardent supporter of the Woman’s Club of Cotulla’s First Books project. The program provides local first grade students a book of their own to take home; for many children, this is their first book to own. She has expanded this project to give books to students attending the local headstart program and the local daycare center.
“As all teachers volunteer countless hours for community projects, especially, in small communities, Novella has chaired committees for the local county fair including the Pet Parade, Little Mr. and Miss Contest and Food Show,” Franklin added. “She also volunteered countless hours serving on campus and district site-based decision-making committees.
As the wife of the local Ag teacher, she also spent many years volunteering as a chaperone for overnight trips and helped at the local junior livestock show auction.
“Novella has always had a strong faith and has supported her church faithfully for many years,” Franklin said. “She is a lector at her church and is responsible for the lectors’ schedule and is also a member of the altar society. She takes these responsibilities very seriously. So, wherever the Woman’s Club of Cotulla is, you will find Novella. She makes the effort to support all projects to the fullest extent. She sees a need and seeks to find a solution.
“As the person that invited her to the first Woman’s Club of Cotulla meeting, never did I think that I would be looking back just seven years later to see her dedication and service at the local, district and state level grow to this level, but, then, it is Novella, and she is an achiever!”