Diver Bill Godsey logs 10,000 volunteer hours at the Tennessee Aquarium
When Bill Godsey fell in love with SCUBA diving in 1956, the sport was still very much in its infancy. And as best friends tend to do, theyâve grown older together.Â
Godsey became hooked on diving after dipping beneath the surface of a quarry in Hixson, Tenn., using equipment brought back by a friend who had served in the Navy. That experience sparked a passion for the sport that has defined Godseyâs life and helped him experience aquatic wonders at sites from Hawaii to the Red Sea.Â
âPeople ask me which is my favorite place to dive, and I say it depends on what youâre looking for,â says Godsey, now 82. âWhenever you dive, thereâs always something different. Itâs different everywhere you go.â
Despite his globetrotting experiences, Godsey has spent the bulk of his time underwater as a volunteer at the Tennessee Aquarium. In 1992, he was among the first group of five divers to volunteer there, where he has used his skills to train others and to educate the public about the aquatic world. This past week, Godsey was honored for exceeding 10,000 hours as a volunteer.Â
In all, the Aquarium has an active pool of more than 495 volunteers, including 184 volunteer divers. Volunteersâ roles range from interacting with the public during dive programs or as docents to preparing food for the animals. In 2016, the Aquariumâs volunteers devoted almost 64,000 hours of their time, the equivalent to more than 30 full-time positions.
âItâs amazing what our volunteers do,â Aquarium President Keith Sanford says. âThese folks contribute the equivalent of more than $1.5 million a year in volunteer labor for us and a whole lot of their heart in coming here every day. For Bill to achieve 10,000 hours, especially diving, is amazing. Iâm just thankful and full of praise that someone can do that.â