Who are our community heroes?

Published 11:49 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Since 1986 the Miss-Lou community has chosen 217 Unsung Heroes.

At least that many more remain unsung.

Who do you know who has made a difference in our community?

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Who always takes the extra time to pick up trash on public roads, deliver meals to shut-ins or mentor children?

Who takes their paid-job well beyond the limits of a 40-hour workweek simply to make a difference for people in need?

Each year we ask the public to nominate the Unsung Heroes in our area. Nominations can be simple or complex; that’s up to you.

Tell us who you’d like to nominate and write at least a few sentences that explain what this person does to benefit the community.

The more details you can give us, the better, but we can do some research of our own.

Tell us, in your own words, why you think your nominee is a hero. And if you can, tell us how to get in touch with the person.

Our staff here at the newspaper will compile all the nominations and choose this year’s heroes based on the volunteerism, good deeds and impact on the community.

From that point, we’ll contact the 2009 Unsung Heroes, tell them of their new title and try to arrange a photo shoot.

We do not, however, reveal the names of the nominators.

Photos and write-ups on each Unsung Hero will appear in a special section that will be published on Feb. 22, along with our annual Profile edition.

The section will also contain this year’s Citizen of the Year, a title awarded by our newspaper’s staff.

So, put your thinking caps on and make note of those special people in our community.

It is time to give them the pat on the back they’ve always deserved.

Last year, the heroes included the Rev. Clifton Marvel and Bishop Melvin Jackson. The two men — who always greet you with a smile — started up a mentoring program at Robert Lewis Middle School. They gathered area ministers and began weekly meetings at the school. The ministers spent time talking with students, offering a listening ear and offering quiet but stern guidance when they noticed pants sagging below the proper spot.

Last year’s list of heroes also included Thelma White, a former schoolteacher turned community activist.

White has a passion for the Watkins Street Cemetery and she’s been working for years now to take the area from overgrown mess to historical site.

Jack Cupit was recognized for his clever ideas at the St. Catherine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

As a volunteer, Cupit dreamed up and started the Miss-Lou Wildlife Expo for children.

Other heroes from last year included:

4Liz Brooking, of Ferriday, who has worked tirelessly for the betterment of Concordia Parish.

4Erle Drane, of Natchez, who has dedicated nearly all of his time to local veterans’ needs.

4Joan McLemore, of Natchez, who is best known for her storytelling talents and organization of the Ghost Tales event at Jefferson College.

4Barbara Persons, of Natchez, who volunteers at Natchez Regional Medical Center and her church.

But we know there are more from where those eight heroes came.

E-mail your nominations to unsungheroes@natchezdemocrat.com, mail them to P.O. Box 1447, Natchez, 39121 or drop them by 503 North Canal St.

The deadline is Monday, Feb. 9.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com or 601-445-3551.