Special to The SUN
When I looked last year at the list of nominees for the Stith Award as Citizen of the Year — and at the winners — the Rotary mantra of “Service Over Self” came to mind.
I had a chance to review my thoughts about this recently, since the winners of the 2012 Stith Award, presented by the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce, were not in town and were unable to receive the award at the Chamber’s annual banquet last winter.
The award was presented at a Rotary meeting here in Pagosa on Aug. 30.
One of the criteria for candidacy for the Citizen of the Year award is that the contributor or contributors must donate time, talent or tithing, with no expectation of reward or recognition. All of last year’s nominees meet that criteria.
Some of the nominees are more public, by the nature of their involvement with the organizations and events in the community. But, there are candidates who just give — and give, and give — and no one really knows, “Who did that?”
Here are this year’s nominees.
Jim Stone. Jim gives to the veterans, to women’s groups, to youth groups. He gives of his facility, his food services, his time and his contributions. And few people know the extent of his generosity.
Buddy and Siri Schuchardt are social and economic forces in our community. If there is an event for an organization, Siri will promote it on her Facebook page. Siri has also been chair of the Humane Society chocolate auctions, Auction for the Animals and a board member. She is active in the Women’s Club, and she and Buddy served as United Way chairpersons in 2010. You think they’re out there on the dance floor having fun, but chances are they helped organize the event or donated to it.
Mike Hayward and Muriel Eason arrived on the Pagosa scene with Mike running for county commissioner and Muriel working with the Community Development Corporation. However, many people might not know the countless hours of time donated to innumerable non-profit organizations by Mike’s business, DJ Dude. If he isn’t donating his services, he and Muriel are contributing to the event. While Mike works the event, Muriel is the photographer and videographer and they donate the footage to the organization and Mike uses his technology background to give exposure to the organization and our community. Muriel has spent time and personal resources to educate herself on community-related issues; she studies, attends meetings and seminars in other communities and brings this knowledge back to our town. When not doing this, she is supporting or volunteering at events for GECKO, the Chamber, Seeds of Learning, Friends of Reservoir Hill and more. Mike also sits on the board of Veterans Helping Veterans.
Kenny Daniels is one of the quiet heroes of Pagosa. And he wants to stay that way. But, no more, since Kenny’s passion for contributing has finally outweighed his passion for anonymity. His list of contributions is long, but it starts with his passion for kids and community. Many of you enjoy the trails that the Nordic Club now maintains. What you may not know is that Kenny is one of the groomers who make it possible for you and our visitors to enjoy these tracks. When GECKO has an event, it is often Kenny who is marking trails out in the wilderness, parking cars, pouring beer, assisting at aid stations or helping a runner or cyclist. Kenny helps put on the ACVAP Duathlon every year and he helped develop the trail plan for Turkey Springs this year. Kenny is the current morning Rotary president and he epitomizes the Service Over Self concept. He privately supports members who can’t afford dues and he works with Rotary youth to ensure housing and community involvement when they are here. Kenny’s involvement is no longer under wraps.
This year’s winners are one of Pagosa’s treasures and when people see things happen, but don’t know how it happened or who made it happen, our winners are often involved.
The unique aspect of this year’s award is that the winners live in Pagosa part-time and they have done so for over 27 years — yet many people may not know them. They proudly claim Pagosa as their home and religiously stay involved even when they are not here.
I am proud to announce Jack and Katy Threet as the winners of this year’s Citizens of the Year award. Jack not only contributes to the local Rotary Club, but is a Rotary International supporter. Like Kenny Daniels, he exemplifies the Service Over Self concept. He, too, supports those who cannot financially further themselves through the Rotary programs and has mentored and anonymously funded individuals to become Paul Harris fellows. Prior to the new downtown mural being painted, there was another mural in place, as well as some planter boxes. Before that, there was an ugly sidewalk. Jack loves flowers and he loves to garden, so he and Bob Hand, past Chamber director and creator of the Chamber/Visitor Center facility, decided they wanted to spruce up the main street through town. They got some people and built the planter boxes, did the planting and, then, Jack would water the plants, finding water downtown or bringing it in buckets. When the new mural was built, Jack and Katy wanted to again contribute to the landscaping portion of the pocket park and donated to make that happen.
Jack and Katy started United Way here in Archuleta County back in the ’80s, before it became incorporated into United Way of Southwest Colorado. They saw a need, were already big United Way supporters in Houston, and believed this organization could serve a great many people and organizations. Their first yearly budget was $10,000 and they never thought they’d make it. The budget and needs have more than quadrupled since then and Jack and Katy are still huge supporters, acting as chairpersons in 2009.
There are few non-profit entities that do not benefit from the Threets’ philanthropic contributions, including youth groups, cultural groups and senior organizations. We have fireworks on the Fourth of July (when weather permits) because the Threets donate to the program almost every year. And the fountain in Pinon Lake was resurrected and once again became a community landmark because of their financial support.
If a local youngster has been awarded a special designation and is raising money to attend a conference or seeks to further his or her passion, chances are the Threets have heard about them, will find out more and donate to their cause. Jack will find out what the youngster has done, about their efforts to raise money, and what they are doing to work toward their goal. Then, he’ll often help them on their way by making up the difference in what they need. Then, he’ll often find out how the individual did through his sources in the community. He and Katy have made many valuable investments in our youth — in sports, music and educational opportunities.
I spoke with Jack and he wanted to extend his thanks to the community. He and Katy are very honored. He said that they just try and help, whenever they can.
This kind of quiet philanthropy enhances our community. We often recognize the flashy or obvious, but it is the unsung heroes we recognize this, the ones who do the work. Congratulations to the Threets and to all our deserving nominees.