They highlight people who have done a lot of good, philanthropic work in the community by being on all these boards and doing a lot of volunteer work.
The people are all well deserving of these awards and you learn so much about all the stuff that they do behind the scenes — stuff that most people don't realize.
Well last year after Redmond announced their honorees, I piggy-backed off that idea and wrote a column highlighting a few people I thought did great work and make our community a better place on a day-to-day basis.
I figured I'd keep up the tradition and do that again this year. Redmond announced their honorees on Sunday and from what I can tell, all the recipients help a ton of local people and organizations. I think my honorees are pretty great too.
I tried to come up with something catchy to call my award but I couldn't think of anything great so I'll just call em “The Sevies” for now.
The following people may not sit on a ton of boards of directors or get a lot of attention for what they do, but they deserve recognition nonetheless:
Santa and Mrs. Claus — Y'all know who I'm talking about? The couple who help out Santa each year by appearing at various events and locations around Rome this time of year dressed as the most famous North Pole residents. They're the Hambys. Mrs. Claus (who sometimes goes by Ellie) also happens to work in the ticket office at the Rome Braves. Whether they're in costume or not, this couple ALWAYS brings a smile to people they meet. I've seen them at a bunch of different events and at restaurants and stores together and they have always been very cheerful and outgoing. Mrs. Claus has a slight grudge against me on account of one time I outbid her in a silent auction for an autographed Rome Braves baseball. But she has not let that stop her from being sweet and kind every time we've met. This couple brings so much joy to people all year round but ESPECIALLY at Christmas time.
Sue Lagermann — Sue is the director of an organization called CASA. A lot of people haven't even heard of it but CASA stands for Floyd County Court Appointed Special Advocates. Sue and her staff make sure that trained and supervised volunteers speak for the best interest of abused and neglected children who are involved in the local juvenile court system for foster care and assists in finding a permanent, safe and loving home for these kids. Sue's been doing this for a long time and I've seen how she becomes invested in these children's lives and works tirelessly for their wellbeing. There are a lot of local children who are kept out of very dark circumstances thanks to Sue and her staff.
John Schroeder — I've always thought Schroeder's Deli was a Rome icon. And John Schroeder is in my opinion a Rome icon himself. I know John and his family do a lot for the DIGS organization and I know that John always opens his outdoor music venue to people who want to put on charity or fundraising concerts. But aside from that, I've been to Schroeder's a million times and I see how he interacts with people and how he treats people. He's very unassuming. But there's a quiet strength there and he never puffs out his chest or toots his own horn. He's got a great sense of humor too. If Broad Street was the solar system, then John Schroeder and his restaurant would be the sun. The constant. Everyone else just sort of revolves around him.
Joe Cook — Since I got to Rome 13 years ago I've known Joe Cook as Coosa River Basin Initiative's "River Keeper." He doesn't have that official title now but he will always be river keeper to me. Joe has dedicated his life to making sure our rivers are kept clean and that people are educated about how to care for our waterways. When Joe's not lobbying for some environmentally friendly legislation or leading people on fun and educational paddles down our rivers, he's physically waist deep in the Coosa picking up other people's trash or making sure that those dang mussels on the riverbed are safe and secure. The man will put his own dignity on the line to get his point across that we need to protect and preserve our waterways for future generations. I salute Joe and all the work he has done over the years to make sure that our beautiful rivers stay that way.
Frank Tant — In 2002 Frank began volunteering with Rome’s AIDS Resource Council three days each week. Today he's the office manager and a board member. He administers free HIV tests and leads a support group for people living with the disease. He also speaks to community groups, clubs and other organizations including the youth detention center, who invite him to talk about the disease and how to prevent it. Frank has also been HIV positive for 29 years. What amazes me about Frank is that he has never shied away from being honest with people about this disease. I believe that over the years he has not only helped prevent it in our community through education, but he has also helped a great deal of people who have AIDS or HIV by helping to provide resources to them. He is voice and a symbol for those who are living with this disease.
I believe that the people I've named have a profound impact on our community. Their contribution to the betterment of Rome and Floyd County should not go overlooked. I am very thankful that they're a part of my community.
Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune