This past Wednesday, my wife and I attended Horizon Goodwill’s 60th Annual Awards Dinner, our first time having just moved to the area from Pittsburgh a little less than a year ago. We were both so moved by the event that I felt compelled to dedicate this week’s blog to our experience, sharing what we learned about this incredible organization, the spirit of community and yes, my disappointment about choosing the wrong week to start my diet.
“What Time Do We Need To Be There?”
If you’ve been reading my entries for the past 11 months you know I’ve learned quite a bit about Horizon Goodwill and the amazing job training services they offer to the community. When I was asked if I could attend the 60th Annual Awards dinner I was thrilled! I’ve grown to really appreciate the hard work, dedication and passion everyone at Horizon Goodwill contributes on a daily basis to Washington County. Immediately, I called Missy and told her we had to find a sitter for our daughter on May 6th. (Thank you, by the way, to my friend, neighbor and colleague, Johanne, for volunteering to watch Kaitlyn!)
By this point in my marriage I should know I need to have a detailed itinerary for any event like this, as the conversation went almost verbatim something like this:
Missy: What time do we need to be there?
Missy: Do I need to get a new outfit? I should get a new outfit…I’m going to get a new outfit.
Me: Uh, ok.
Missy: Are we eating there?
Me: Yes…it’s a dinner…
Missy: You know what I mean! Do we need to RSVP and choose an entrée?
(Quick, John, don’t let her know you don’t have the answer, it will lead to a more involved interrogation)
Me: Nope, I took care of it, it’s all good!
Nice People, Great Conversation and Cheese
We arrived at the Fountain Head Country Club in Hagerstown, were presented with our name tags and made our way into the banquet room. As we took our seats, Missy and I got to meet our table mates as pleasant conversation began amongst the guests. I have to admit, I kept finding myself distracted by the cheese table. I had to excuse myself as I went to check out the incredible variety of cheeses available. This is probably a good time to mention I made a promise on May 1st that I was going to try to lose 20 pounds by the end of August. Things weren’t looking so good….
Speakers, Dinner, Awards Presentation And Of Course…Dessert
Shortly after dinner was served, and I didn’t think it was possible, but I actually felt my willpower literally leaving my body. Fresh crusted salmon, potatoes, prime rib, fresh rolls—I mean come on! What was I supposed to do? I mean, you have to eat, right? Seconds, on the other hand, may have not been the best idea, but I’m only human!
Everyone settled in as Mike Zampelli, Chairman of the Board of Directors and the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, recognized the recently retired Craig MacLean, Executive Director and CEO of Horizon Goodwill for the past 35 years. As Mr. MacLean spoke humbly about his accomplishments and community effort, I noticed Missy becoming intrigued.
The following awards were presented, and as each recipient accepted, I again noticed Missy was becoming very emotionally engaged.
Board Recognition Award: Stuart Mullendore & Spence Perry
Two names I’ve learned quite a bit about in the past year.
Outstanding Sales Award: Woodstock, Charles Town, Grantsville, Greencastle & Romney locations
Missy and I watched as the entire table next to us rose to accept their awards, it was fun watching each of them bursting with pride as they posed for the photographer!
Special Award: Mr. Bill Pennington & Mr. Paul Crampton
Although neither Mr. Pennington or Mr. Crampton were able to attend, the story Ron Bowers, Vice-Chairman of the Board, conveyed about their generous donation of manpower and labor in assisting with repair work with a Horizon Goodwill property really set the standard for other community businesses to get involved in the future.
Employer Of The Year Award: Macy’s Logistics & Operations Facility
Listening to the reasons why Macy’s earned this award, it really hit me that Goodwill is a great resource for businesses who need to hire qualified workers quickly. Missy leaned in to whisper in my ear as Colleen Jordan accepted the award on Macy’s behalf: “That makes one more reason I love to shop at Macy’s!”
Mission Partner Of The Year Award: Lord Fairfax Community College
We watched the video presentation featuring Jeanian Clark reinforcing her admiration for the help provided by the Horizon Goodwill team as each organization worked together to create opportunities for local jobseekers and employers in the region.
Business Partner Of The Year: Washington County Department of Social Services
WCDSS mirrors the exact same mission statement as Horizon Goodwill, which says a lot about both of these amazing organizations.
Chuck Robinette Spirit of Goodwill Award: Tammy Stottlemyer
I was already familiar with Tammy’s story, and it was my turn to lean towards my wife, telling her “Now this is what Goodwill is all about.” Giving Tammy the motivation and opportunity to grow and be as independent as she can be is practically the exact definition of the Goodwill mission!
Achiever Of The Year: Christopher Robbins, David Smith & Keshia Sawyer
More than any other of the evening presentations, I believe these three awards had the most profound effect on both of us. As we watched the video presentation for these amazing individuals, it was apparent just how helpful the efforts of Horizon Goodwill are for those committed to improving their quality of life. I was moved specifically by Ms. Sawyer’s mother, sitting just a few tables away from us, as she cried tears of joy for her daughter’s success. I turned to mention this to Missy only to see she was also getting very misty eyed.
Bennett S. Rubin Graduate Of The Year: Justin Small & Mary Booker
I actually wanted to congratulate Mr. Small & Ms. Booker personally after hearing their stories, but apparently everyone else also had the same idea, as they were surrounded by well wishers. I would like to take this opportunity to tell each of them how inspiring they really are and wish them both continued success in their careers.
Massey H. Roe Memorial Service Award: Christopher B. Shank
Former Horizon Goodwill Board Member and State Senator, Christopher Shank was honored for helping advance the Horizon Goodwill mission of empowering those with barriers of employment find viable employment. As the current Executive Director of the Governor’s Crime Control & Public Safety program, Mr. Shank has played a crucial role in writing the Second Chance Act, legislation that helps those with criminal background find careers.
Oh, did I mention the dessert? Double Chocolate Chocolate Cake…But, I am proud to mention, I respectfully declined by slice! No, seriously, I really did.
As Missy and I drove home she told me she was totally impressed, not realizing Horizon Goodwill did so much for those with barriers for employment. “Honestly, I knew they helped people, you’ve been telling me that for months, but it’s so amazing to actually hear from those that have benefited so much. Horizon Goodwill has really helped people change their lives. I never totally pieced it together until tonight that when Kaitlyn and I donated those clothes the real impact it truly has. It just became very real watching the awards presentation. I don’t feel so bad about donating your pants now.”
I smiled. “You felt bad about donating my pants?”
She looked me dead in the eye, responding “Not really.”