Upper Arlington resident James Boyd is one of the recipients of the Jefferson Awards.

Upper Arlington resident James Boyd is one of the recipients of the Jefferson Awards.

The Jefferson Awards are presented by WBNS-10TV and the Nationwide On Your Side Volunteer to recognize individuals who do outstanding work in central Ohio communities.

The late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Sen. Robert Taft Jr. of Ohio created the national Jefferson Awards in 1972 to highlight the works of unsung heroes. A network of newspapers and television stations in local communities across the country tell positive stories about the volunteers who are recognized each year.

The 2009 Jefferson Awards special will air on April 25 at 7 p.m. on WBNS.

Boyd volunteers for numerous charitable organizations. He has worked for Greater Columbus Habitat for Humanity, building houses for those living in substandard housing; the Near Northside Emergency Material Assistance Program, a food bank for the poor; Odyssey Health Care as a hospice visitor; and as a fund-raising volunteer for WOSU Public Media.

An attorney, Boyd works with the YWCA Family Center in Columbus to provide legal advice to homeless families.

"I talk to them about their legal problems and try to direct them to someone who could help them," he said.

Boyd is also a weekly volunteer at the Holy Family Soup Kitchen on the West Side of Columbus.

"I've been going down on Fridays for about 15 years," Boyd said. "There's an awful nice group of people coming to eat there and working there."

A native of Niles, Ohio, Boyd and his wife, Joan, have a son, James Jr., who is an electrical engineer in Charlotte, N.C., and a daughter, Margaret Warner, who lives in Painesville, Ohio.

Boyd retired as a claims attorney from Nationwide Insurance in 1993 after 26 years. Since his retirement, he also serves as an ombudsman to nursing-home patients and helped build furniture for the Material Assistance Providers, which provides free furniture for needy families.

"Before I retired, I knew I didn't want to stay home and watch soap operas," Boyd said. "I used to get people together to do things at Nationwide, and this is just an extension of that."