by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“We’re gathered here tonight to celebrate 108 years of civic and service opportunities,” said Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) President Kiki Beavers, welcoming members and guests to the April 20 dinner meeting held at the EQB House. In keeping with a tradition which began in 1983, the SCA presented the 33rd annual Community Service Awards, this year honoring Mickey Suarez and the GSA Allies represented by Allie Faxon.
The names of the awardees are kept secret until the evening of the ceremony. A surprised Suarez stepped up to the microphone, thinking he had been invited to the meeting to give a presentation on Housing Sewanee, one of the many community service projects to which Suarez lends his time and energy.
“Mickey Suarez and his wife, Rachel, have lived in Sewanee just over 10 years, but in that short time Mickey has probably logged more volunteer hours than anyone on the mountain,” said Beavers, reading from Mickey’s nomination.
“Mickey has spent countless hours cooking and washing dishes at the Senior Citizens’ Center, building ramps at homes for the elderly on fixed incomes, repairing everything and anything that needs work on Otey’s campus, and organizing and constructing Housing Sewanee homes for local residents living in substandard situations. The list goes on and on. Mickey Suarez is the definition of a selfless servant.”
The GSA Allies were honored for their support of the Gay Straight Alliance, a new student club at Franklin County High School. “In January of 2016 a courageous group of students formed the GSA Club to offer students a safe space where they could be themselves and express themselves freely,” Beavers explained, giving a history of the GSA. Allie Faxon, a Franklin County High School junior, was an early member of the club. When the club came under attack, community members were joined by GSA supporters throughout the country and the world, who donated time and money and sent much-needed letters of support. “The GSA Allies are saying no to bullying, intimidation and discrimination,” Beavers said. “This award is presented to club member Allie Faxon on behalf of GSA Allies everywhere.”
In the business portion of the meeting the membership elected officers for the coming year, received an update on the Community Chest and approved several by-laws amendments.
Next year’s officers are Lynn Stubblefield, president; David Michaels, vice-president; Diane Fielding, treasurer; Megan Green Roberts, secretary; Aaron Welch, member-at-large; and Kiki Beavers, past president.
Reporting on the Community Chest, Beavers said the fund-raising effort exceeded the $100,000 goal by $1,000, making it possible to fund all 25 organizations who applied for assistance.
Significant among the by-laws changes, the director of Sewanee Classifieds and the director of Parks were included as board members; email voting is now allowed; and the presidential succession process was altered. The vice-president does not automatically advance to the position of president.
Beavers thanked the Sewanee Community Council for the additional $2,000 award to the Elliott Park playground project for mulch. “Through the generous support of the entire community and grants from a number of sources, including the South Cumberland Community Fund, Monteagle Sewanee Rotary and the Walmart Community Fund, we were able to raise $60,000 for the playground project,” said Beavers. Volunteers are needed to make routine maintenance inspections at the park to ensure the playground remains for decades to come. To volunteer, contact Stephen Burnett at <email@example.com>.
Past president Susan Holmes thanked Beavers for her commitment to the organization and wise oversight. “Kiki guided the Civic Association through the negotiation and fund-raising hurdles that culminated in the successful completion of the Elliott Park playground, a much-appreciated gift to the community,” said Holmes.
The next SCA meeting will be in September.