What makes a good community? There are a few essentials:
● Good schools
● Fair and open government
● Support for local businesses
● Access to medical care (hospitals)
● Opportunities for self-expression through sports and art
● A spirit of empathy, understanding, and service
In Grand Island we have many of these good things, but not all. One aspect is particularly strong: SERVICE.
The joy of service
I believe that communities would be better places if everyone learned to love serving others. As a child, part of my duties as a member of my church was to visit those in need. Once I week, I had to go check in on a handful of people—sometimes I chopped firewood, picked up groceries or simply talked with them. At the time, I hated it, but I always felt satisfied afterword.
I learned that it brings you even more happiness to help than it brings to the person being helped.
When I got older, I had roommates I was not fond of. The best piece of advice I received was “if you hate someone, do something nice for them.” And it worked. I shined their shoes and bought them a meal, and we got along much better.
Citizen of the Year
I love the Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year awards because these awards honor members of our community who go out of their way to help others. By the time you read this, the awards will be over, but I still want to mention a few of our most service-oriented awardees. We’re lucky to have these citizens in our Town, and I’m honored to know them.
Jim Sharpe: Lifetime Achievement Award
One of the awardees this year is my Deputy Supervisor, Jim Sharpe. Jim’s acts of service for Grand Island are innumerable. I’ve never met someone so devoted to Grand Island. Here’s just one example of his unending attitude of service. I’ll finish a meeting, and think everything is wrapped up. But Jim will spend another hour, or even two, talking with the individual to make sure all their fears are calmed and all their needs are met. Jim spent decades steering the Chamber of Commerce, serving the Town through government, and leading committees and events. He’s been a guiding influence and a great friend to many, myself included.
Denise Dunbar: Educator of the Year
Another deserving awardee is my son’s principle, Denise Dunbar. I was given the opportunity earlier this week to be part of a wonderful surprise celebration for her put together by the teachers at Sidway, many of whom had tears in their eyes as they thanked her for her devotion to educating our kids. She’s a wonderful person who brings spirit and energy to Sidway. Even I walk a little straighter when Principle Dunbar is nearby.
Dick Crawford: Community Service Award
When I heard that Dick Crawford, our Highway Superintendent, was given this award, I knew it was well deserved. We’ve had our differences, but I have full faith that when he is given a task, he carries it out to the best of his ability. He goes above and beyond to serve Grand Island both in the government positions he’s held and though the many organizations he volunteers for.
Working together for a better Grand Island
These people all exemplify the attitude of service, empathy, and understanding so crucial to a successful town. I know I’ve learned from each one of them, and I hope more people follow the example of all the 2018 Citizens of the Year by learning to find joy in serving others.