One, they have a love of community regardless of whether it is their hometown or their home base.
Two, they believe in the endearing doctrine, “I am my brother’s keeper.”
Three, they recognize the many blessings received in their own lives so in return they seek to reach out to others who they know are in need of equal opportunity.
Four, they understand government aid is not the total answer to citizen needs, and that volunteerism and philanthropy constitute the moral high ground of life.
Five, they are unwilling to take the passive approach of turning away, sitting back and assuming “... somebody else will take care of it.”
Six, they remember a time in their past when they needed the help or the support or the gentle touch of another, and they received it.
Seven, they maintain that good deeds should never be the exception and should always be the norm.
Eight, they see impassioned outreach as a lesson learned by those who follow in their footsteps.
Nine, they don’t ask for recognition and in most cases don’t expect a thank you; theirs is a personal mission whose reward is an unmeasured warmth.
Ten, they do what they do because it is the right thing to do.
Many Cleveland and Bradley County residents have espoused these wonderfully humanitarian views. Many still do.
One whose name is commonplace in conversations about “good” and “community” and “personal sacrifice” is the late Harlan White, a much-beloved member of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club whose warm smile and soft words were as recognizable as his vibrant bow ties; at least, among those who called him friend and confidant.
It is with unparalleled honor when the virtues of an award recipient are compared to those of Harlan. Recently, the Kiwanis Club did just that with the annual announcement of several much-deserved accolades ... all in appreciation for community servantry.
Theirs are familiar faces, not because of their names but because when there is community need they are there.
- Bob Card Jr., a Kiwanis Club member, retired businessman and longtime philanthropist who was named 2014 recipient of the prestigious Harlan White Award;
- Merica Stum, a “trailblazer” who has a genuine love for the people of Cleveland and Bradley County, received the Horizon Award;
- Leigh Ann Boyd, a Kiwanis Club member whose work with area youth has been called “extraordinary” because of her commitment to “mold the next generation,” received the Service to Youth Award;
- Mayor Tom Rowland, a Cleveland advocate whose tireless efforts to bring a veterans home to Bradley County is unparalleled, received the Patriotism Award;
- Allen Mincey, vice president of communications at United Way of Bradley County Inc. whose willingness to help multiple organizations far beyond the perimeter of his employer, received the President’s Community Hero Award; and
- Debbie Melton, a successful businesswoman who believes in “giving back” to the community that has given her so much over the years through philanthropy and civic leadership, received the Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Why are such good people so deserving of public recognition even though their preference is to stand offstage, shy of the spotlight?
Their nominators say it best:
“His word is his bond, and for those of us who have worked with him, his handshake is better than any written contract a lawyer can draft.”
“Through her hard work and dedication, she is making a difference in the lives of people in our hometown ... and will continue to be a trailblazer for many years to come.”
“She helps mold the next generation of youth leaders in our community.”
“Service is a calling to him.”
“He puts every fiber of his being into his labor of love. He truly is a servant leader and we are blessed to have him in our community.”
“She has demonstrated so many random and anonymous acts of kindness throughout this community, having touched countless lives during times of need.”
We congratulate Bob Card Jr., Merica Stum, Leigh Ann Boyd, Mayor Tom Rowland, Allen Mincey and Debbie Melton for their much-deserved awards.
Each personifies the virtues of living in “The City With Spirit.”
They are today’s good news.
Tomorrow’s even better news is our community is home to hundreds more just like them.