Recently, I had the distinct privilege and honor to deliver keynote remarks at Shaw Media’s 3rd annual Everyday Heroes Award Breakfast.
Over the past three years, the Herald-News and the Morris Herald-News have recognized 47 individuals and one group who have had a profound impact on our community and have made a difference in the lives of countless residents in Will and Grundy counties.
Shaw Media and the event’s sponsors – Exxon Mobil, CenterPoint, Silver Cross Hospital and D’Arcy Automobiles – are to be commended for shining the spotlight on these Everyday Heroes.
In his book, “The Last Lecture,” Randy Pausch challenges us to be “communitarians” because we all have a responsibility to contribute to the common good of our community.
As you review the profiles of these 16 “communitarians,” you will find extraordinary acts of kindness and generosity which contribute to our common good. Our Everyday Heroes are helping the poor, the oppressed, the homeless, the hungry, the aged, the sick, and the addicted. They are serving on countless boards, aiding first responders, befriending and rescuing their neighbors, fulfilling wishes of those less fortunate, introducing children to the “great outdoors”, mentoring and coaching our youth, beautifying and protecting our neighborhoods and promoting all that is good about our community.
Our Everyday Heroes are bonded by their fervent advocacy for social justice and their strong desire to help improve the quality of life for those they touch with their ministries. Because of their efforts, we are a stronger community.
So, what is the “anatomy’’ of our Everyday Heroes? They choose service over self-interest. They’re generous, kind, thoughtful and raise people up by their deeds and words. They realize that, as Maya Angelou admonishes, “You cannot go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You have to throw something back!” They understand that “greatness” is simple, humble and hidden. They are unsung volunteers and they prefer to keep it that way. They dedicate their lives to something bigger than themselves. They know they are alive not for themselves but for one another. And, they perform their local “miracles” on an everyday basis. Improving the welfare and happiness for people in our community is a way of life for our Everyday Heroes, not an isolated volunteer effort.
In addition to this year’s 16 honorees, we know there are hundreds and hundreds of everyday heroes in our midst. To all of you, we offer our profound gratitude and appreciation for all that you do!
Shirley Chisholm once shared that “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” I think it is safe to say that our Everyday Heroes’ rent is paid in full!