Four Bowling Green residents were recognized this morning for their good works by being named Jefferson Award winners.
The annual community service awards, sponsored by the Daily News and WBKO-TV, are given to residents who go above the call to ensure they leave this earth a better place than they found it.
This year’s recipients include a teenager who raises money for cancer research (Riley Miller); a cancer survivor who is active in spreading her love for volunteerism (Anne Grubbs); a Bowling Green physician turned country doctor (Mike Collins); and a woman who is an advocate or friend to nursing home residents (Elaine Slamans).
Sixteen-year-old Riley Miller said she was inspired to do something about childhood cancer after her two baby brothers, Reid and Randon, died from the disease.
So Miller started Warren County’s branch of Alex’s Lemonade Stands that since 2005 has raised more than $87,000 in Warren County.
Miller said it’s something she intends to continue.
“And maybe someday the money I help raise will be responsible for finding a cure,” she said.
Miller said cancer is not discriminatory.
“I know at least seven kids my age in school who have been diagnosed and people in the neighborhood,” she said.
Miller’s mother, Carol, said she is proud of her daughter.
“Her commitment has encouraged our entire family,” she said.
Miller will travel to Washington in June to be considered for a national Jefferson Award, something that surprised her today.
“Wow, I am?” she asked.
It wouldn’t be the first time Miller received national recognition. In 2008, she was named one of America’s Top Ten Youth Volunteers and she received the National Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
Mike Grubbs smiled and snapped pictures as his wife received her award.
“She has been involved in so many things, it’s hard to measure her impact on one organization,” he said. “She has been trying to cut back, but there is still so much to do.”
Anne Grubbs said many others do the good work: “I just get to talk about,” she said.
By day, she works with Community Education; at night or at any other free time, Grubbs’ interests include Kiwanis Club, Girl Scouts, the former Girls Inc., the ALIVE Center and Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce. Her goal to have a centralized location for volunteers to go and get connected to organizations in need was realized with the establishment of the ALIVE Center, an affiliate of Western Kentucky University.
When asked how she keeps on going while dealing with health issues, Grubbs revealed her secret: “I don’t clean my house and we eat out a lot.”
Collins said his award should be shared with his wife, Susan, a nurse who assists in his home visits and who has been on numerous mission trips with him.
As single-family practice doctors become even more of a rarity, Collins is committed to providing the service. In 2006, he began seeing patients in their homes and for years he has traveled to other countries to provide medical care where it is scarce. He also is mentoring others who chose to become family practice physicians.
Health care reform will increase access to care for many people but does little to help doctors establish family practices, he said.
“I’m concerned about the number of medical care providers going into family practice because of the tremendous cost of medical school,” he said.
Many physicians choose specialty areas that allow them to repay that debt quicker than being a family physician would.
Slamans blushed when asked about her volunteerism and the award that recognizes it.
For 25 years, she has volunteered at Rosewood Health Care Center, engaging the residents in conversation and activities and providing them with gifts and companionship. She also does the same for people in the hospital and at church; she makes shawls and baby blankets for the sick or in need.
“I really don’t do that much,” she said. “Anybody can do what I do.”
But to quote boxing legend Muhammad Ali, “the will must be stronger than the skill,” program speaker Abraham Williams said.
Williams, using a basketball analogy of being the “sixth man,” said the concept could apply to Slamans and the other nominees.
“You Jefferson Award winners are the sixth man,” ready to come in off the bench and do what needs to be done to help out the team.
Williams said the community time and again has demonstrated how caring it can be – coming together after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and helping Hurricane Katrina victims who ended up in Bowling Green with few possessions.
“But we don’t need to wait until another 9/11 or Katrina,” he said. “We have such a giving community … but there is a lot of need.”
Slamans said the world would be a much better place if everyone would just do a little something.
“Even if it was just to give someone a smile,” she said. “We just need to show the love of Jesus to the people.”
Minor, Robyn L. (2010, April). Recognizing service to the public. Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/recognizing-service-to-the-public/article_44ed451e-a71c-5766-b76c-a46ebe99f64e.html