To the editor:
The Giving Tree Award was presented at the recent Senior Recognition Night at Salem High School, as it has been since the inception of this award in 1997. There are two versions of the award. One is presented to a member of the adult community and one to a graduating senior. The qualifications for receiving this award are simple. The persons honored are recognized as having given of themselves to assist others in their community with no expectation of reward. They are simply, in a word, givers.
This year’s honorees are Salem High School senior Hannah Morin and local businessman Ken Rothwell. The evening was tinged with sadness because Ken Rothwell could not be present due to a serious health situation. A fellow Rotarian, attorney Scott Grover, accepted the award on his behalf.
Why were Hannah and Ken selected? Let the citations used at the ceremony speak for themselves:
“The class of 2013 has many individuals whose character and service would be rightfully recognized with this award.
This year’s recipient of the Giving Tree Award stands out among these individuals as one who gives all they have to the benefit the whole, whether that be their family, the class, the school, the community of Salem, or the global community.
This senior’s four years at Salem High School have been marked by continuously going above and beyond personal responsibilities to:
— ensure the success of class activities and events
— organize and run orientations
— organize and participate in activities involving many hours of volunteer service, including travel to serve the communities in New Orleans, which still very much need support to rebuild 8 years after Katrina.
— assist in successful drama productions
— strive to be, at all times and in all places, someone who friends, classmates and teachers can rely on for a helping hand, no matter what the task may be
— simply be kind to others no matter what type of day or week she is having.
— be a phenomenal role model to her siblings.
This award, it should be noted, is not a scholarship and has no academic requirements whatsoever. That said, it should be pointed out that this student does all this while balancing loaded extracurricular and rigorous academic schedules.
The recipient of this award, like her predecessors, never brags about accomplishments or seeks out accolades, because that is not what motivates her.
The recipient of this year’s award’s motivation is the success and happiness of others.
I present to you the 2013 recipient of the Giving Tree Award, Hannah Morin.”
“The Giving Tree Award to a community member is awarded to a member of the Greater Salem Community who has given of themselves, in time or treasure or both, to in some cases enrich and in other cases ease the lives of members of our community. Many of our past recipients were seen early on as givers and “most likely to succeed.”
Tonight’s recipient is a bit different. When he was a student here. His academic activities did not, at that time, distinguish him one way or another. He had some personal struggles, but the adult community was essentially not aware of them or of their level of seriousness.
He made some horrifically bad decisions as a young man, decisions the consequences of which caused him to run afoul of society and pay a heavy price.
Many people who get themselves into such negative situations never pull out of that downward spiral. Tonight’s recipient did — and then some. With the help of a mother who never quit on her son, he became a successful businessman and entrepreneur and one of the most aggressively positive people it is possible to know. In short he overcame his past, but he never forgot it.
He has come to the aid of numerous charities in Salem. He has pitched in with food and services to organizations struggling to help other strugglers. He has employed young people who other employers may not have given a second look because people he trusts asked him to give a kid a chance, or a second chance.
The 2013 Giving Tree Award to an adult member of our community is awarded to Kenny Rothwell.”
I would ask that, if you know Hannah or Ken, you take the time to congratulate them on their recognition and thank them for being who they are. I’m sure Kenny won’t mind if you pick up a potpie at Ken’s Kickin’ Chicken while you’re at it.