Rotary looking for First Citizen

Published 10:37 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2009

To be named “Suffolk’s First Citizen” is to join an unmatched list of city leaders, community shapers and volunteers.

Since “Cosmopolitan Club of Suffolk” gave the first award back in 1956, the First Citizen honorees have been a collection of former mayors, local professionals and community activists.

Now given annually by the Suffolk Rotary Club, the First Citizen award goes each year to a person who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to give back to the city of Suffolk.

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Now it is time to add another name to that list.

The Suffolk Rotary Club, which took the award over in 2003, is taking nominations for the 2009 Suffolk First Citizen.

“We are looking for a citizen of Suffolk that best exemplifies the spirit of service and of leadership,” said Jennefer Ambrose, chair of the First Citizen committee. “There’s plenty of people that are very active in the community that qualify. We want to hear about the people who gave of their time, effort and talent.”

Last year’s winner, Betsy Brothers, said being chosen for this special honor by people she had worked with for years made the award that much better.

“It was most definitely an enormous honor to be chosen by people that you’ve known for a long time and from your community — and especially from an organization like Rotary,” she said. “I just felt very proud to be their choice. I spent a lot of years working for non-profits and for the preservation of Suffolk, so it meant a great deal to me to be honored in that way.”

The Rotary Club relies on nominations from all over the community to help choose their winner.

“We’re not just looking for someone with deep pockets,” Ambrose said.

The nomination includes a simple application process in which the nominator shares information about the nominee’s resume, work experience and community leadership, along with a statement explaining why the nominee deserves the honor of First Citizen.

The applications are then reviewed by a committee set up by the Rotary Club.

Nominations are due Feb. 12, and applications are available online at the Rotary Club’s Web site,

Following the announcement of the 2009 First Citizen, there will be a celebration held Apr. 23 to honor this year’s winner and to highlight the need for similar, continued efforts within the community.