Unsung Heroes

Each year around this time, a group of local citizens are honored with some overdue recognition for their community service through the "Unsung Heroes" award. The brainchild of select board member Wayne Bell and a group of friends about 25 years ago, the awards recognize a few individuals each year who perform the valuable functions - often behind the scenes, since that's part of what makes them "unsung heroes" - that help make the town and the area go. Every group or organization needs a spark plug-type member to lubricate the pieces to make them work together and provide the kind of enthusiasm that keeps things moving forward during good times and bad. Or, sometimes the "unsung hero" is an individual community member who takes it upon themselves to fill in a gap in the array of services being offered, or not offered, and plug that gap. All communities have such folks, and we're fortunate that here in the Northshire we have our share; maybe more than our share.

This year the committee that sifts through the nominations selected three individuals for recognition. Karen Allen has long taken part in the Community Sharing project which helps those in need have a brighter holiday season. Karen has also been involved in numerous other non-profit and community oriented endeavors over the years, and her recognition for that is long overdue.

Beverly Van Sickle has been involved in the Neighbor to Neighbor Program and has helped the important work of that organization, Neighbor to Neighbor program. That organization provides volunteer, home-based services that assist older, house-bound residents of the Northshire to help keep those folks connected to life going on outside their homes.

Lysa Connor Cross is one of those folks who takes it upon herself to stop by to visit with and check up on retired senior citizens at The Meadows for whom contact with the outside world is important, but a rarer thing than it used to be in the regular course of life. It's easy for people, when they reach a certain age and exit the work force, to be come house-bound, especially when physical frailty starts to take its toll. Lysa started "dropping by" many years ago out of her own volition, and has kept that up.

The three join a long list of fellow citizens who have also made significant contributions to the community over the years. Such contributions are all the more essential than ever, as lives get busier and community service becomes harder to squeeze in around competing demands for time.

Simultaneously, the need for private involvement, in conjunction with or alongside public services, in agencies and organizations designed to help assist the less-fortunate among us, is more important than ever. Public budgets are getting squeezed and needed resources are often inadequate. The efforts of Karen, Lysa and Beverly, and the long line of folks who have come before them are more valuable than ever. Let's hope there is a steady supply of more of them to come in the years ahead.

Hopefully, each of the formerly "unsung" heroes can now enjoy making the transition to being "sung." Their work and achievements highlight the importance of that, and remind us that those who opt for a public role in their personal lives are rewarded with something far more valuable than an award or their name in the newspaper - they obtain an inner satisfaction that their actions make a difference in other people's lives, and in their community as a whole.


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