Stacy Usher, project director for the Wolfe County Drug-Free Communities and member of the Wolfe Countians Against Drugs UNITE Coalition, was recognized for her volunteer and service contributions at the 25th Annual Governor’s Service Awards presented virtually Saturday, October 24, 2020.

Usher was presented the National Service Alumni Award by Governor Andy Beshear and Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Secretary Eric Friedlander.

As an AmeriCorps member of the UNITE Service Corps, Usher completed two years of service at Campton Elementary in Wolfe County, during which time she sponsored the school’s UNITE Club for community service, volunteered for the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) club, taught soccer, and helped her students’ test scores soar upwards of 30% in math knowledge.

Usher also helped Wolfe County to successfully receive a 2019 Drug Free Communities Grant.

Also honored from Operation UNITE’s 32-county service region was Boyd County’s Linda Firebaugh, who received the Senior Volunteer Service Award.

Since serving as executive director, Firebaugh has become a volunteer at Ashland’s Hillcrest-Bruce Mission, and has been instrumental in receiving four consecutive years of the Good Samaritan Grant, totaling $450,000, which has allowed the mission to provide dental and vision services, prescription co-pays, hearing aids, and diabetic supplies to community members.

“It is our honor to show appreciation for those who give their time to better the lives of Kentuckians,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “Volunteers such as these award winners embody the spirit of our state. These winners did not allow even the global pandemic to stand in the way of doing services for others. These volunteers have made great impacts.”

“Volunteers truly make our communities better places,” continued Secretary Friedlander. “Their commitment to service, particularly during COVID-19, is perhaps more important than ever. Many of these volunteers had to make changes to their normal way of serving, relying on technology, physical distance and ingenuity in terms of getting things accomplished.”

The Kentucky Governor’s Service Awards program offers a rare glimpse into the lives and achievements of Kentuckians who serve without expectation of compensation, recognition or commendation.

Launched in 1975 by the governor’s office to highlight the importance of volunteer and national service across the Commonwealth, the awards program has been managed by Serve Kentucky since 1995.

“Today’s winners represent the heart of communities across Kentucky,” stated Joe Bringardner, Serve Kentucky Executive Director. “This group represents a small number of the exceptional people from all over the state who do whatever it takes to help our families, friends and neighbors.

In addition to coordinating the Governor’s Service Awards, Serve Kentucky currently administers 22 AmeriCorps program grants with more than $7.6 million in federal grant funds along with supporting other community service programs across the Commonwealth. State Service Commissions oversee the annual grant competition that awards funding to AmeriCorps State programs, determine social needs in their states, set policy and program priorities, provide training and assistance, support national days of service, and promote service and volunteering.

For more information about the Governor’s Service Awards, Kentucky’s AmeriCorps programs or volunteerism, call Serve Kentucky at (502) 564-7420 or visit their website at

Stacy Usher in June 2018 at a UNITE Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball camp.

About Stacy Usher

When Stacy Usher joined Operation UNITE as an AmeriCorps member of the UNITE Service Corps, she needed a plan for her future. This was a way for her to go back to school for a Masters in Elementary Education degree. She  had no idea how it would change her life.

“As someone in recovery since May 10, 2004, I had always hidden that part of who I am,” Usher stated. “When I started serving with AmeriCorps I began to see how that part of my past makes me a stronger person.”

During her tenure with AmeriCorps she was able to write a grant application for the Drug Free Communities Grant through SAMHSA, which Wolfe County was awarded beginning in October 2019. She was then hired by the Wolfe Countians Against Drugs UNITE Coalition as the Project Director of our DFC Grant.

“I have spent the last two years continuing to work towards making change in Wolfe County. I work with the school district to
teach drug prevention to students in Kindergarten through 12th grades,” Usher said. “Our goal is to stop our youth from experimenting with drugs in the first place.”

Usher also works with the local Kentucky Drug Court and promotes Casey’s Law to help those in need of treatment. She serves as the liaison between families, courts and those in need of treatment.

“Daily, I use my past experience with addiction to reach those affected by addiction, whether they are addicted or a loved one of someone battling addiction,” Usher said. “I would never have had the confidence to do so if not for the experiences and relationships I made while serving as a volunteer with AmeriCorps.”