MT. VERNON — Richard Stubblefield of Mt. Vernon was “surprised” and “flabbergasted” to learn of his induction into the 2013 Senior Saints Hall of Fame.
The veteran educator was one of 13 new inductees honored at a special banquet Saturday night at the Holiday Inn.
And while Stubblefield said he felt unworthy of the distinction, he recognized the importance of the program and of giving back to the community.
“I believe that it is God’s will that we use our talents, strength, and energy to ‘pay it forward’ by being of service to and doing things for others,” Stubblefield said. “That is part of the rent we owe for the blessings that we have; that’s what being a Senior Saint is all about.”
The Senior Saints program, an annual tradition since 1998, honors area residents for their volunteer work and commitment to community service.
Saturday’s Hall of Fame Honors Banquet proved to be an emotional experience for the Senior Saints and their friends and family in attendance. Some of the new saints had to fight back tears during their acceptance speeches.
Roughly 300 people attended the banquet, including dignitaries like Mt. Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley, Jefferson County Board Chairman Bob White, and State Rep. Mike Bost.
As part of the ceremony, all the saints were presented with certificates and a plaque. Also, a brief video was shown for each saint, depicting their life through still photographs and music.
“I feel honored to be awarded such a recognition from the community because this is a community program,” said Cleo Holt, a 2013 Senior Saint. “This is a way of acknowledging people in the community that work for the community.”
One of the best parts of the program is how it shines a spotlight on humble citizens who aren’t seeking recognition for their good deeds, said Jerry McCracken, one of the founders of Senior Saints.
“The importance of it is that we get to honor folks that never look for credit and never get the accolades that we owe them as a community,” McCracken said. “They’re the foundation of what builds our community.”
Linda Duckworth of Woodlawn, a 2013 Senior Saint, called the program “wonderful,” but said she’d like to see even more saints recognized each year.
“It’s a very great honor and for the betterment of the community,” Duckworth said.
David Keen, chairman of the Senior Saints Hall of Fame Committee, said he hopes the younger generation will pay attention to how these seniors have lived their lives.
“It shows younger kids the tremendous amount of work that these individuals have given and done,” Keen said.
Also at Saturday’s banquet, there was a special tribute to Joyce Poorman, a Senior Saint and former co-chair of the Hall of Fame Committee who passed away in February.
The Senior Saints program is a collaborative effort involving the Hall of Fame Committee, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Mt. Vernon, and the Jefferson County Board.
2013 Senior Saints Hall of Fame Inductees: n Bob Brown n Linda Duckworth n Norma Dyer n George Gifford n Cleo Holt n Bill Hogue n Melba Jenkins n Les Marlow n Maggie Mays n Eloise Morris n Janie Reynolds n Richard Stubblefield n Byron Vance