Community Heroes – The Best of the Best

Bill Russell presenting Arlene Arciero Lake Norman Kiwanian of the Year in 2006

There is a marble paper weight that sits on my desk that says, “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”   Throughout my professional and civic career, I have been on both ends of the awards – receiving them and giving them.  As state president and later national president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), I have literally given away hundreds of awards.  It would not surprise me if the actual number eclipsed more than a thousand.

On many occasions, as the recipients were hugging me with tears of joy streaming down their cheek, they said between happy gasps that they never did it for the award.  Lest you think these were just overjoyed females who let their emotions get the best of them, quite a few were grown men bursting with pride.    I remember the feelings I had when the first Advisors Award was given out to a brother in my fraternity (Pi Kappa Phi at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC).  It was a small award, no bigger than my hand really.  There was no fancy logo, just an inscription Advisors Award presented to Bill Russell from our chapter advisor Russ Palmer.   The award came as a complete shock to me as it probably did to most of the other brothers.  Russ rarely shared any accolades on the brothers.  He preferred to be thought of as a thick skinned, tough guy.  He was.  Perhaps that’s why this award meant so much.

It’s great to be recognized among your peers.  Few people who deserve the recognition ever do what they do for the awards.  They do it, not because of what they get by doing it, but the feeling they receive because they did.   This month, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will recognize several special individuals – our Cashion Business Person of the Year, the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award, the Cherry Community Service Award as well as our Board Member and Ambassadors of the Year.  These awards honor the Best of the Best in our region.  It will be our chance to recognize people who excel at what they do.  A chance to reward someone for giving more than they ever get back.  

My chapter advisor from the fraternity passed on many years ago as have some of my fraternity brothers.  The plain little plaque that hangs in my den looks out of place hanging with others from my active civic career.  Small as it may be, it made a big impression on me.  We don’t do it for the awards but its awfully nice when our friends and associates pat you on the back –  recognizing you as the best of the best in what you do.