Friday, March 23, 2007

Jefferson Awards -- what my parents taught me

The Jefferson Awards. From time to time, I used to see TV commercials that would solicit nominations for the Jefferson Awards, but never did I participate. It was only when our local Rotary Club joined with the local Jefferson Award process, that I began to learn.

As described on the website:

In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard founded the American Institute for Public Service, a 501c3 public foundation, to establish a Nobel Prize for public and community service - The Jefferson Awards.

The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. National award recipients represent a "Who's Who" of outstanding Americans. On the local level, Jefferson Awards recipients are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.

And so our Rotary club, an organization dedicated to "service above self" has become one of the major sponsors for the Jefferson awards.

Some things I noticed from this year's finalists -- almost every single one of them mentioned that they learned volunteering at the feet of their parents. Some of them applied themselves to situations that touched close to home (such as Mac Heidrich, who volunteers with the Redwood school, a school and rehab center for children and adults with multiple disabilities; Heidrich's son has Cerebral Palsy and has been blessed by the center. Mac felt like he had received so much that he was trying to give back), while others spent time in religious work (such as Peter Bushelman, the award winner for this year -- he has spent countless hours volunteering with about half a dozen Catholic Charities and doing personal work helping the elderly).

Each person seemed to learn giving from their parents -- it was something instilled in them at an early age.