Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Linda Watson thanked the district's school volunteers Thursday at the Volunteers in Public Schools' annual meeting and luncheon at First United Methodist Church.

Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Linda Watson thanked the district’s school volunteers Thursday at the Volunteers in Public Schools’ annual meeting and luncheon at First United Methodist Church.

The group honored its top five volunteers, who donated a combined total of more than 5,000 hours to local schools this year. Members of the group perform volunteer services for the PBSD and perform a variety of functions within the district’s schools.

“You are the glue that holds our district together,” VIPS board member Monica O’Briant told the volunteers in attendance.

This year’s luncheon featured a Western-inspired them, “Rounding Up Our Great Volunteers.” Guests were greeted at the door with a “howdy” and tip of the hat by board members and volunteers clad in cowboy hats, bandanas and boots. The western theme carried over into the decor of the room with checkered tablecloths, boot and hat centerpieces, and wanted posters hung on the walls.

Lunch was catered by Dorey’s Catfish of Leola and was served by board members and other volunteers.

The W.T. Cheney Singers and Orchestra were on hand to provide hoedown-style entertainment in the form of music and a square dance.

Judge Waymond Brown provided a testimonial of some of his experiences as a volunteer. He said he has spent many hours speaking to young people over the years.

“I never liked the term ‘role model,’ ” Brown said. “I don’t want you following me around trying to be like me, but I am a good example of what education can do for you.”

Brown spoke fondly of a young man who told him he would like to be a judge someday just like Brown. He ended with the message “keep volunteering.”

The VIPS program is supported by the United Way of Southeast Arkansas, the Pine Bluff School District, and community individuals and organizations.

For more information, contact the VIPS office at (870) 543-4224.