Volunteer honored for service to Warner Robins community

Sun News correspondentMarch 27, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Long-time community volunteers Clyde and Myrtle Cunningham are being honored by many of the groups they’ve served through the years, including having a building named in their honor at the Community Outreach Service Center.

Clyde Cunningham is a retired Air Force chief master sergeant from Robins Air Force Base. On March 19, he was presented a plaque at Community Outreach Service Center dedicating and naming the center’s women’s building in honor of him and his late wife.

Community Outreach Service Center, located on Duke Avenue, is a Warner Robins homeless shelter providing accommodations for men, women and children.

The plaque recognized the couple’s “passionate and dedicated service” to humanity and their community from the “many friends and the various organizations with which they served.”

The Rev. John Thomas, who operates the shelter along with his wife, Isadora, presented the plaque.

“In light of all he does we thought it was important to recognize Clyde not just for what he does here but what he does for others throughout the community,” Thomas said. “What he’s done has touched so many lives and been so important to so many people. It’s an honor for us to recognize Clyde and Myrtle this way.”

In January, a related ceremony was conducted at the Robins Air Force Base chapel where Cunningham has been involved since he first came to Robins in 1976. It drew workers from the shelter and other organizations Cunningham has been involved with, such as Houston County Habitat for Humanity, Heart of Georgia Hospice, Houston Healthcare, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, military old timers, the chapel and others.

“Clyde has sort of been Mr. Chapel from the beginning, but he wouldn’t let us have a testimonial dinner for him,” said Chaplain Lt. Col. Kenneth Harp. “He’s too humble for that, so we asked him if we could use his name and have a service where we worshiped God, enjoyed some music and raised money for groups he works with. He agreed to that. We had people tell about Clyde but told them they had to limit their remarks, or we’d be there way too long.”

Harp said just more than $25,000 was raised and is being divided among various agencies.

Cunningham said it’s all a matter of seeing the needs of people and wanting to help meet them. Harp said he believes Cunningham’s attitude is part of his military culture. Thomas said Cunningham has simply been a blessing to the more than 3,000 clients the shelter has served from all walks of life.

“Each organization I’ve worked with has been to help people and meet needs,” Cunningham said. “I just like to be of service to others. Jesus said he came not to be served but to serve, and we should, too. He said if you’ve helped the least of these you’re really helping him.”

In addition to work Cunningham does with recognized organizations, Harp said he also does things like taking men and boys each April and October to the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville to provide a chili luncheon.

Harp said it’s just the old master chief still looking after the young airmen and teaching them to be the kind of men they ought to be.

Thomas, who was also in the Air Force, said Cunningham’s work with the homeless shelter includes serving on the board as treasurer as well as dishing up some of his famous cooking. He said he has cooked both for shelter residents and for barbecue fundraisers.

“When we started the center in 1996, Clyde introduced me to the Protestant men’s group at the base chapel, and he and the chapel have been such a help to the needy all these years,” Thomas said. “And Clyde’s barbecue ribs, there’s just nothing like them anywhere.”

Community Outreach Service Center is located at 404 Duke Avenue. Its number is 922-3195.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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