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My Turn, Jim Duncan: Service Above Self awards going strong for 25 years

Writer

Jim Duncan is a member of the Rowan Rotary Club.

Jim Duncan is a member of the Rowan Rotary Club.

The Service Above Self Award has come a long way from the last century to the present. Almost 25 years ago the Rowan County United Way and the Rowan Rotary Club partnered to blaze a trail to identify and recognize our Rowan County youth for their unselfish service to others in our community and beyond to include our neighboring countries.

The first year we recognized 34 individual and group awards. Seeing the expression on the faces of the recipients and especially the teachers, parents and grandparents, brought instant joy to both organizations, and we knew there must be hundreds more deserving youth. We went on a mission to seek them out and recognize them for their service above self.

Each year more nominations were received and the event grew, but we still wanted to reach even more deserving youth. We met with a well-respected family in our community and they immediately became a silent partner to allow us to reach out to more youth in Rowan County. Wow! All of a sudden the program exploded in a good way and we had to find a larger facility for the crowds of recipients and their supporters.

We have had the privilege over the years to recognize volunteer efforts of youth from 5 to 18 years old. It is not uncommon to see tears flow as these precious youth come to the stage for their award and picture. Every single youth nominated receives a signed and framed certificate for their volunteer service. That is just the beginning. Large monetary awards and plaques are presented to the top individuals or groups in each category. The categories are K-5, Middle School and High School for both individual and group awards.

We have gone from 34 awards to thousands of awards each year with hundreds of recipients and guests present for the awards ceremony at Keppel Auditorium at Catawba College. We are so thankful for our partnership with Catawba College. They even have their students involved in the judging.

This year we are thrilled to welcome Cheerwine Bottling Co. as a major sponsor. Cheerwine recognizes the importance of the Service Above Self Youth Awards to provide recognition of our youth and immediately came on board with their support.

So what can you do? Time is running out to nominate a Rowan youth for this prestigious award. Teachers, parents, neighbors, non-profits, Scout programs and friends, please take the five minutes to nominate that deserving individual.

You can go online at www.rowanserviceaboveself.com or call the Rowan County United Way office at 704 633-1802 for information on nominations.

The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m. in Keppel Auditorium at Catawba College. Everyone is invited to attend the ceremony. Bring your hanky to dry your eyes as you see and hear firsthand, what our youth are doing in and around our community.

P.S. There will be a special guest at the ceremony.

Dr. Jim Duncan is a member of Rowan Rotary Club

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