Consider what lies ahead for those planning to attend the 6 p.m. spectacle at Life Care Centers of America’s beautiful Professional Development Center:
n Presentation of the William F. Johnson Sr. Community Service Award which is the highest honor bestowed upon a United Way volunteer by this widely respected nonprofit organization.
n Acknowledgment of a throng of civic-leading companies, businesses, schools and other organizations whose leaders — and employees — accepted the all-important role of serving as Pacesetter and Challenger firms for the recently completed campaign whose 2011 proceeds are funding 2012 operations of more than 20 member agencies, programs and special services.
n Recognition of lead volunteers who stepped up to work in critical positions for United Way during the past year, and who did so at personal sacrifice knowing the time required would mean countless hours spent away from their careers, their families and their personal interests.
n Presentation of the annual “Big Chief” award that goes to the campaign chair whose team of division leaders and volunteer solicitors achieved the greatest percentage of their goal. This year’s contenders will be campaign chairs Tanya Massolini and Brenda Lawson, whose teams at last report were running almost in a dead heat.
n Installation of the 2012 United Way board of directors and Executive Committee.
Of all these splendid events scheduled for the festive evening, one that surely will capture the eye — and warm the heart — of United Way supporters throughout our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown will be an endearing tribute to retired President and CEO Brenda Abel.
As of Dec. 31, 2011, Abel ended 36 years of professional service to this fine organization. Having served in United Way’s top role since 1996, the highly respected civic leader is greatly admired not only within the organization and its legion of volunteers, but also throughout our community’s circle of social services.
Given the choice, United Way’s quiet but compassionate leader would not have sought such public accolades. But frankly, her 3 1/2 decades of commitment to community and cause have earned her this heartwarming moment.
We do not know what lies in store for the United Way retiree during Tuesday’s festivities, but we applaud the decision by lead volunteers and staff to make this a special evening for one who has given so much to an organization whose goals are forever intertwined with the safekeeping and well-being of Cleveland and Bradley County area families.
United Way Board Chairman Terry Henry said it best when he told our newspaper, “We are looking forward to honoring Brenda for her contributions to our community through her service with United Way of Bradley County. Her accomplishments, and the accomplishments of United Way, during her time there are truly amazing.”
That’s because Abel has served our residents in need as a “truly amazing” leader.
We look forward to seeing this modest community servant share Tuesday’s spotlight. Its shine will illuminate the life and work of one whose principal ideal has focused faithfully on serving as her neighbor’s keeper.
She, and so many other United Way faithful, are truly among our hometown’s finest.