• 48°

Young and old honored as heroes

There are no age, economic, job, gender or pedigree requirements to make a measurable difference on one’s community.

For evidence, just look at Kendall Parsons, George Richards and Enoch Copeland.

The three Suffolk residents were honored by the Suffolk Democratic Committee Saturday during the second annual Celebration of Community Heroes luncheon on Saturday.

“Through their work, the citizens being honored today have proven that, regardless of age, socio-economic status, ethnicity or any other distinguishing characteristics, every human being has a measure of value that can touch the lives of others and make a real, measurable difference in our communities,” said Robert Stephens, vice chairman of the awards committee.

The Community Hero award was established to recognize individuals who have demonstrated “visionary leadership, a commitment to community services, compassion, along with many other attributes that help solve pressing community challenges,” Stephens said.

The youngest among the honorees was 11-year-old Kendall Parsons, recognized for her leadership and establishment of Driver Express, a group of students from 8 to 15 years old who are active in the community.

After a tornado wrecked her community in Driver on April 28, 2008, “I saw how the adults came together and thought it would be a good idea for the kids to do something to help,” Kendall said.

Since then, Driver Express has helped organizations, including the Genieve Shelter, the Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Suffolk Humane Society.

“Kendall, in her nearly 12 years, has married two needs in our community,” Suffolk City Councilman Robert C. Barclay said. “She was not only instrumental in cleaning up Driver after the tornado, but continues today to help the community and giving direction to others her age.”

For his work as a member in local and state organizations and boards, decades of dedication to educating Suffolk’s students and his leadership in Holland, Enoch Copeland was honored for his “fair play” and “servant leadership.”

“What I do isn’t for praise,” he said. “It comes from the heart.”

“Enoch is an example of a lifetime of giving back to the community, city and schools,” Barclay said. “He is the go-to guy in Holland and Holy Neck communities.”

Another Suffolk resident who has dedicated his life to helping those around him is George Richards, a retired postal worker of 37 years, a World War II veteran, an active volunteer at his church and a member of many local boards and organizations, including the NAACP.

“He has been a kind and gentle hand helping people get through another day,” Barclay said.

“He is truly a patriot of those in need, whether old, young or in between,” added Priscilla Benn, who nominated Richards.

While the three were recognized by the Democratic committee, their life-long dedications transcend partisan borders, organizers said.

They’ve demonstrated “not Republican or Democratic values, but American values,” Barclay said.

“These three are about as diverse as three individuals could be, and yet remain human,” Stephens said. “They represent different sectors of our society including philanthropic, public service, student, educator, corporate, local government, elected office and civic organizations, which suggests that together, we can successfully devise and implement solutions that effect positive, lasting social change in our community.”