Don Bieger Receives Ashley O. Thrift Volunteer Award

Don Bieger Receiving Thrift Award

Smart Start of Transylvania County will receive $1,000 in Bieger’s honor

GREENSBORO— Don Bieger, an early childhood advocate, was honored for his service to Smart Start at the National Smart Start Conference Luncheon in Greensboro on Thursday. Bieger has dedicated countless hours as a board member and volunteer with Smart Start of Transylvania County. The organization will receive $1,000 in Bieger’s honor.

Bieger relocated from Atlanta to Transylvania County more than seven years ago and brought his commitment to volunteering with him. As soon as he settled in, he volunteered to tutor at an elementary school where he continues to spend his Wednesday mornings helping grade school students to improve their reading skills. It was his passion for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library that brought him to Smart Start. He has been an avid promoter of and fundraiser for the program. In addition to serving as local partnership Board Chair, Bieger recently agreed to co-chair the NCPreK Program Committee. 

In nominating Bieger, the Smart Start executive director wrote, “Having Don as board chair is like having a ‘walking advertisement’ for Smart Start around town.  He tells everyone about Smart Start and its programs!  He talks to bank managers and tellers, servers and receptionists in his favorite restaurants, teachers and postal workers, friends and business associates, and just about anyone he perceives as a likely target for his spiel.”

 The Ashley O. Thrift Volunteer Award was established in 2009 to honor the longtime Smart Start leader and early childhood advocate. Thrift has been part of Smart Start since its inception, first serving as Board Chair of the local Smart Start partnership in Forsyth County and then for 14 years as the Board Chair of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., the organization that leads Smart Start. The Thrift award is given annually to honor a current or past Smart Start Local Partnership Board Chair who embodies Thrift’s same dedication.  

Smart Start is North Carolina’s nationally-recognized initiative to ensure that every child reaches his or her potential and is prepared to succeed in a global community. Smart Start measurably increases the health and well-being of young children birth to five, building the foundation for all future learning, by improving children’s early care and education programs so that they are safe, healthy and provide opportunities for children to learn skills they need for success in school; providing parents with tools that support them in raising healthy, happy, successful children; and ensuring that children have access to preventive health care.


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