Our heartfelt congratulations

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2011

There are many different kinds of heroes in a community. Firefighters, police officers and paramedics all qualify for the title because of the danger that they put themselves into by doing the jobs they do every day. When tornados strike or fire breaks out, when bullets fly or criminals threaten, when cars crash or hearts stop beating, Suffolk’s emergency services providers are the first on the scene, ready to provide aid and comfort to the afflicted.

But no less heroic are some of the people in the city who provide support for people long after the danger is gone. And the Suffolk Democratic Party got together for the third annual celebration of those heroes on Saturday.

This year’s three choices for the title Community Hero were former Councilman Joseph H. Barlow, Holland resident Curtis M. Holland and business owner LeOtis L. Williams. All three have worked — often quietly and in the background, without apparent desire for recognition — to improve their community by directly helping those in need.


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Barlow, a former First Citizen, has served on every important elected and appointed board or commission in the city and has done much in those jobs to improve the lot of folks in Suffolk.

Holland, the first black person hired into the maintenance department of the former Union Camp as a hydraulic mechanic, has a long history of service in the U.S. Army, the Army Reserves, at his church and with the Masonic Lodge where he belongs. But it was for his many quiet selfless acts for neighbors — like buying one a new washing machine, putting up a basketball goal for the neighborhood and delivering Christmas baskets to the needy — that he was nominated for the honor.

LeOtis Williams, well known for his Thanksgiving turkey giveaways, rounded out the slate of heroes honored by the Democrats on Saturday. More than 5,000 families have benefited from that generous act alone in recent years. But he has also made major financial or time contributions to the Haitian earthquake relief fund, to National Night Out in Suffolk, to the Salvation Army and to other organizations.

These three men embody the spirit of community service that defines the best of Suffolk. Each is completely qualified for the award he received, and each should be heartily congratulated.