WINCHESTER — Todd Thompson was known for many things.

Thompson, who passed away in January, was a former owner of the Winchester Royals baseball team and a well-known businessman in the Winchester area. He also was a humanitarian who helped communities across the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

In 2001, he received the local American Red Cross chapter’s first Humanitarian of the Year Award. In 2005, he was the local chamber’s Citizen of the Year. In 2009, he was named Volunteer of the Year by the United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley.

Those factors and more led the local United Way to rename its top volunteer award the Todd Thompson Volunteer of the Year Award. The announcement was made Thursday during the nonprofit organization’s 75th annual meeting, which had to be held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I could not think of a more deserving person than Todd to name our Volunteer of the Year Award after,” said United Way NSV CEO Nadine Pottinga. “He has been a leader and advocate of our United Way for years, exceedingly dedicated and giving, always keeping us and our community a priority. We will miss him dearly and will think of him every year when we say his name, awarding this honor in his memory.”

Before the first Todd Thompson Volunteer of the Year Award was presented, local residents Jim and Kim Stutzman shared heartfelt memories of Thompson and his commitment to the community. A video about Thompson also was shown, with many people sharing memories and expressing their gratitude for him.

The top volunteer award has been presented for more than 25 years to an outstanding local volunteer whose individual commitment to helping others exemplifies the United Way’s tradition and spirit of caring.

On Thursday, Mark Merrill, former president and CEO of Winchester-based Valley Health, was presented the Todd Thompson Volunteer of the Year Award for his “distinguished volunteer service to the community, United Way participation and service, and sustained and prolonged service to helping others.”

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to have received the first ever Todd Thompson Volunteer of the Year Award,” Merrill said. “Todd has been a remarkable volunteer, and I am so happy United Way chose to honor him with this award. I feel quite humbled and pale in comparison to the work Todd has done over the years. Thank you to the United Way board for awarding me with this honor. I again am very humbled and appreciative.”

Amy Vargas-Aguillon, a senior from Handley High School in Winchester, received the United Way NSV’s 2020 Youth Volunteer of the Year Award for her “exceptional leadership ability and commitment to community service.”

Strasburg-based First Bank’s Jessica Neff was awarded Employee Campaign Coordinator of the Year for her fundraising efforts for United Way NSV. Blake Curtis, also of First Bank, received the Campaign Volunteer of the Year Award, while Winchester Radiology’s Blake Watts received the Rookie of the Year Award.

During the meeting, United Way NSV officials shared fundraising and giving efforts over the past year, which included many efforts to assist with COVID-19 relief funds.

This year’s United Way NSV campaign raised just over $950,000, with a few campaigns outstanding, after raising $1,065,202 in 2019. This didn’t include $100,000 raised and matched for a COVID-19 relief fund, $200,000 in grants for the Valley Assistance Network as well as distribution of more than $600,000 in federal CARES Act funding.

Following are some highlights of the 2020 campaign:

• Five of nine campaign divisions exceeded 100% of their goal.

• 125 businesses hosted United Way fundraising campaigns, including 32 schools.

• More than 1,300 individuals made donations.

United Way NSV serves Winchester as well as Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Page counties.

— Contact Matt Welch at