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Birdsong’s well-deserved honor

When it came to choosing someone to honor for its Lenora Mathews Lifetime Achievement Award, VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads could hardly have done better than Suffolk’s George Birdsong.

Birdsong is one of 32 Hampton Roads residents and organizations that will be receiving awards for volunteerism during an April 15 event at the Founders Inn and Spa in Virginia Beach. The Lifetime Achievement Award is the organization’s top honor and recognizes a person who has embodied the spirit of volunteerism, much the same as VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads’ first recipient, Lenora Mathews, its first executive director, who was the first to be honored with the award, in 1998.

Birdsong was a perfect choice.

As chief executive officer and general counsel at Birdsong Peanuts, Birdsong supports many Suffolk organizations and causes, including the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, Obici Healthcare Foundation, Suffolk Foundation, United Way, YMCA, Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

He also supports regional and state organizations like the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance, Virginia Wesleyan College, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Business Consortium for the Arts.

It would be hard to find an organization working to improve the lives of people in Suffolk — whether in the arts, health care, business or just about any other endeavor — that Birdsong has not personally supported with his time, talents and finances.

What makes him even more deserving of the honor, however, is Birdsong’s humility. In his characteristically self-effacing style, when asked to comment on the pending honor, he deflected the praise to others. “Fortunately, I have the support of my employer,” he told the Suffolk News-Herald’s Tracy Agnew recently. “Some of (my volunteer efforts) are during working hours. The support of the company has been essential in my involvement.”

Congratulations to George Birdsong for this well-deserved honor and to VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads for recognizing that some of the region’s best citizens come from Surprising Suffolk.