Awards are nice, but its really about the service

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Congratulations to Cheryl Millet for being named “Rotarian of the Year” by the LaPlace Rotary Club last week, at its annual awards ceremony and installation banquet.

Cheryl is a good friend of mine since I am also in the Rotary Club, and she has served as president for the past year.

This year the top awards were kept in a secret envelope so the person  announcing them wouldn’t know who had won some of the top honors. And it just so happened Cheryl was the one doing the announcing when it came time to name the “Rotarian of the Year.”

Needless to say she was pretty surprised when she read her own name.

But Cheryl deserves the honor, since it is given annually to a Rotarian who goes above and beyond our international motto of “Service Above Self.”

Since I came to town over four years ago, Cheryl got my attention right away as a person who was not afraid to jump right into the middle of any activity that would serve the public good. Once I joined Rotary, I saw first-hand how many projects she would lend her hand to. As someone who is running a business, just as she does with her Saint Optical eye care store, I know how difficult it is to find the extra time to do volunteer work. Yet she has taken on one task after another, and never without a peep of complaint.

Congratulations Cheryl, you were well-deserving of the honor.

Let me also hand out congrats to my buddy Frank Fontana, manager of the Office Depot in town, who joined me in my own little club of those of us who were named “Rookie of the Year” in past years.

Frank was a hands down winner. The guy was everywhere I went this past year, between serving in the Rotary Club and the River Region Chamber of Commerce. Another guy who just can’t seem to say “no” when asked to do something, Frank also is a perfect example of the term “willing volunteer” when it comes to helping others.

Two other top honors on the night went to incoming President Penny Freeman, and Trudy Torres, who were named Paul Harris Fellows with the Rotary Club. Paul Harris Fellows are given to club members who also go that extra mile in service during the past year.

Bradley Jouty, a 13-year-old, was named for the Stephanie Wilking “Student of the Year” honor, for endless work to help out at his St. Joan of Arc School in many volunteer ways.

The Rotary Club truly is all about serving others and volunteering and trying to find a way to help St. John be a better place. But it is hardly the only group that does that kind of work here.

The LaPlace Lions Club, the KC groups here in the parish, and many others are all about helping others. So while I’ve got some congrats for my buddies at the Rotary Club, who get plenty of publicity since I happen to be at all their events, I want to say thanks to these other groups in the parish that also are all about “Service Above Self.”

Thanks to Kerry Ermon, director of social services and admissions at the Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home for submitting a nice editorial piece about motorcycle club members showing up at the home recently to pay their respects to the vets at the home.

I was out for the previous week with a business conference in Minnesota and didn’t catch the fact that she actually wrote a really nice piece about the visit.

Most of the community news we run is submitted and we don’t put bylines on the stories, so her name was cut off the piece. However when I re-read the story this week I saw why Kerry deserved a little credit at the very least. She wrote a great piece about the guys and gals visiting and how they touched the veterans who live at the home.

So sorry for the omission Kerry. Thanks for a great job.

Anyone interested in homeschooling should make a note on your calendar and don’t miss attending the state convention, which will be held in Greenwell Springs this year on Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19.

Our local homeschool group, Christian Homeschool Educator’s Fellowship (CHEF) will have representatives at the state event, which will be held at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, 19421 Greenwell Springs Road in Greenwell Springs.

Guest speakers Steve and Jane Lambert will be leading much of the convention, while Governor Bobby Jindal is a scheduled speaker on Saturday at 11 a.m.

For more information, contact our local rep, Cynthia Duck at 651-6455.

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at