Today I had the honor to present Phil Stover, a faithful member of our church family who serves in numerous ways in our community, with the Gary Whetzel Heart for the Community Award. Below are the remarks I offered in that presentation.
It is my deep joy to announce this year’s recipient of the Gary Whetzel Heart for the Community Award.
As many know, this award is presented each year in memory of Rev. Gary Whetzel.
Gary and his wife Kay – who is here with us today – were the founders of Living Word Outreach and 25 years ago, it was Gary who took the lead in establishing one of the great treasures of our community; Mansfield’s Common Ground Network.
This year we have the privilege to honor and celebrate the service of one of our citizens whose life and work not only reflects the same spirit of care and compassion with which Gary lived, but someone who is continuing the work that was the great passion of Gary’s life.
This year’s recipient is one who has been described as “an inspiration and a great gift to the Mansfield community.”
A special person whose heart for service is reflected in the fact that you cannot go anywhere in this community without running into him.
A kind, caring and generous man… who works tirelessly to ensure that no child in our community is left hungry.
We celebrate him today for his service and leadership in our Feed the Kids program, his work with Habitat for Humanity and his leadership in the Mansfield Kiwanis Club.
He is, “a volunteer extraordinaire.”
One who a member of our city council described as “a role model for me and my family.”
“When I think of a community hero,” another leader said, “he always comes to mind.”
Another remarked that, “when it seems that the needs keep growing, he always finds a way to give a little more.”
“When I grow up,” someone said, “I want to be more like him.” A sentiment shared by many including his pastor who has the joy of recognizing him today.
“He is a great salesman,” wrote one of our local church leaders, “someone who is constantly talking about Common Ground programs and the families and children who are being positively impacted by the programs of the Common Ground Network.
A strong man of faith,
A tireless volunteer,
A servant with a sweet smile and a generous heart,
Someone who, in the words of another community leader who happens to have his name on a portion of the building that we are in today, “does all he does simply because he believes it is the right thing to do.”
And though today’s award is a surprise to him, here are two additional things that I know he would want you to know about him.
He is a proud graduate of Clemson University and will gladly remind you of their victory over Alabama in the National Championship last year.
But more importantly, he is a proud father of five children, 10 grandchildren, and if you are still not fully convinced of what an incredible man he is… just spend some time with the bride he adores named Jackie.
Would you join me in celebrating this year’s recipient of the Heart for the Community Award, Mr. Phil Stover.