Nominate a worthy Suffolkian

Published 9:02 pm Monday, June 27, 2016


It’s time once again for folks in Suffolk to consider their best and brightest neighbors and friends, toward the goal of honoring one person as Suffolk’s 2016 First Citizen.

The First Citizen Award dates back to 1956, when the now-defunct Cosmopolitan Club started the tradition of honoring one person each year who exemplified the ideals of service to others and betterment of the community. Except for a brief hiatus from 1999 to 2003, the award has been conferred each year since then.

Today, the Rotary Club of Suffolk and the North Suffolk Rotary Club work together to present the First Citizen program each year. A committee of club members gathers to consider nominations and choose the most deserving candidate, and then — at a gala affair held at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts — the winner is celebrated.

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This year’s celebration is set for Sept. 29, and the clubs have put out the call for nominations, with a July 29 deadline. The guidelines are broad and simple. Nominees should exemplify the spirit of citizenship and should have shown significant leadership through the use of their time, talents and efforts to make Suffolk a better place to live.

Last year’s recipient was real estate agent Billy Chorey Sr. Other prior recipients have included the late Robert W. “Bobby” Harrell Jr., Dr. R. Leroy Howell, M. Caroline Martin; Sen. Fred Quayle; Dr. Doug Naismith; Delegate Chris Jones; Betsy Brothers, who was active in renovating Suffolk High School as the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts; community activist W. Ross Boone; attorney Whitney Saunders; longtime City Councilman Curtis Milteer; historian Sue Woodward; former Mayor E. Dana Dickens; businessman George Birdsong, longtime General Assembly member Sam Glasscock; dentist Dr. George Barnett; former Mayor Andy Damiani; and former Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr.

Nomination forms can be found on the Suffolk Rotary Club website at Attach letters of endorsement to the application. When complete, mail to Suffolk Rotary Club, c/o First Citizen, P.O. Box 1972, Suffolk, VA 23439-1972.

Proceeds from the First Citizen event support the clubs’ many charitable causes, ranging from scholarships to food drives to Christmas toy drives to community improvement.

But arguably the best thing about the First Citizen program is the opportunity it affords the people of Suffolk to recognize the hard work of fellow Suffolkians to make their community a better place.

If you know someone who would be deserving of such recognition, don’t wait. Visit today and get your nomination started.