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Tom Brooks
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Community Volunteers honored by Richardson East Rotary Club for their selfless service. l-r: Rachel Savant, Kaitlyn Mullens, Jeremy Hailey, Brenda Duckett, Jeff Hubbard, Don Tarrant, Valerie Tarrant. Photo by Tom Brooks

   The Richardson East Rotary Club recently awarded seven community volunteers with the Paul Harris Award, one of Rotary’s highest honors, for their efforts to improve lives in Richardson.
   The club created its Community Service Awards program this year to recognize members of the community who are not Rotarians, but display the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.” Paul Harris was a Chicago attorney best known for founding Rotary in 1905. The service organization launched with Harris and five others, but now has more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs around the world.
   The award represents a $1,000 contribution made on behalf of the individuals to the Rotary Foundation, the organizations charitable arm.
   The seven recipients are Brenda Duckett, Jerry Hailey, Jeff Hubbard, Kaitlyn Mullens, Rachel Savant, and the husband-wife pair of Don and Valerie Tarrant.
   Here are descriptions of the nominees and their volunteer efforts compiled from comments of those who know and work with them.
   Brenda Duckett – Brenda retired from RISD in 2004 after over 36 years in the District and has been busy helping the residents of Richardson ever since. She is very involved with her church, First United Methodist. Over a five-year period, she managed campaigns for church construction and furnishings, raising almost $10 million. She never says “no” to a committee assignment!
   She leads a Cancer Caregiver Support Network for the church, which has helped hundreds of people. She also has been involved with Methodist Richardson Medical Center as a volunteer chaplain, as Foundation Board President, and raising funds for the hospital as Gala Co-Chair (more than once). She has held leadership positions with Altrusa International of Richardson, which supports several local charities. In addition, she served as a member of the Richardson Woman’s Club in various capacities, which impacted Richardson students by providing scholarships. In 2011, Brenda was elected to the Farmersville Ex-Students Hall of Fame for her outstanding career in Education and for the many years that she dedicated to the support of civic and volunteer organizations in Richardson. Her sponsors for this award said, “Brenda is a true example of service before self and an example of someone who lives by and practices the Four-Way Test.”
   Jeremy Hailey & Jeff Hubbard - Jeremy Hailey joined the ministry team at Richardson East Church of Christ as Children’s Minister in August of 2010. He graduated in 2002 from Abilene Christian University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Art (Graphic Design). He received his Master’s in Elementary Education from Texas State University in 2005. Before making the transition to full-time ministry, Jeremy taught in public schools for seven years while also working as a youth minister. He is married to Betsy, a longtime member of the church.
   Jeff Hubbard is the other half of the church’s Youth Ministry Team. Jeff graduated from Harding University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree and recently obtained his Master’s in Christian Ministry from Abilene Christian University. Jeff works beside his wife, Kera, as they minister to teens together. He enjoys playing and watching all kinds of sports, going to movies, and reading. Despite being outnumbered at home, Jeff is blessed to share a home with his wife and three beautiful daughters, Hannah, Harper, and Henley. They keep him laughing continually and he frequently explains the rules of baseball, which they find boring.
Jeremy & Jeff are being honored for their teamwork as volunteers supporting the staff, students, and community of Forestridge Elementary. Jeremy & Jeff and their team of volunteers have coordinated multiple projects that impacted the school climate, student learning, and staff morale. They repainted the large map of the United States on the school play pad, refinished the furniture in the teachers’ lounge, and cleaned the front landscape and planted seasonal flowers on multiple occasions. They refurbished the kiosk for the school banking program. They also organize and provide lunches for the Forestridge staff twice a year. At Christmas, they provide $5 gift cards to all 70 staff members to either Starbuck’s or Sonic. The team always volunteers at the annual Back to School Picnic, Spring Fling, Buddy Fun Day, Book Fairs, and Science Fair. In addition, each teacher and staff member have been blessed with a prayer partner from the church. Jeremy & Jeff work tirelessly to help people see the good in one another. They exemplify the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” in the countless things they do for members of their church, their community, and Forestridge.
   Kaitlyn Mullens – Kaitlyn is a Dallas native who graduated from J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson and completed her Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Texas A&M. Kaitlyn taught kindergarten at Forestridge Elementary in the RISD from 2006 -2009. During those years, she had many refugee students in her classes. Recognizing the multitude of needs, she spent time volunteering with the refugee families of these students. In 2009, she decided to begin working with refugees full-time so that she could help educate entire refugee families. Kaitlyn enjoys working alongside her husband, Cameron, and being a mother to Lydia, Matthew, and Vera, all under the age of five. Kaitlyn is the Director of Operations and Founder, as well as teacher for the organization “For the Nations, Refugee Outreach.” Its mission is to provide educational and acculturation services that help meet the practical needs of refugees and to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ.
   Kaitlyn recognized the needs among her students and their families, and became their advocate. The refugee families adored her. Kaitlyn and her husband rented a home in the Forestridge community so that she could be close to the families and offer her programs in her home. The ministry outgrew her home.
After school and in the summer, she teaches swimming lessons, conducts classes for the refugee students, and takes them on field trips. She and her staff have developed high quality, effective educational programs and have shared the good news of Christ with many DFW refugees. Her vision is to bring their programs to more of the area’s large refugee population. Kaitlyn compares to Paul Harris in so many ways. She saw a need and she acted on it. No job is too small or too large. Like Paul Harris and his ideal of service, Kaitlyn is 100% committed to the refugees she serves. She realizes they don’t have the advantages we have, so she wants to give them whatever they need to succeed. Like Paul Harris, Kaitlyn is making a positive difference in the world!
   Rachel Savant - D Schieferstein, who nominated Rachel for the award, first met Rachel volunteering in Richardson at “Dadfest” about five years ago. “Dadfest” is an annual event sponsored by the Urology Research and Education Foundation. The purpose is to raise awareness about men’s health and to honor dads. While there is no connection or involvement with her own dad, D has seen Rachel volunteering at these events several times. She also volunteers with the many functions of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s Cancer Support Group (of which D is an active participant, so he sees her at many of these events as well) and many Leadership Richardson Alumni events.
   Rachel’s passion is found helping under- privileged children. Rachel was a Board of Directors member of JOVEN in San Antonio. (JOVEN provides outreach services, counseling, and structured activities for high-risk youth and their families of Bexar County). Rachel traveled to Llano Verde, Zacapa, Guatemala and volunteered most of the two and one-half years she lived there. She managed group work projects and created micro businesses for older children. She also assisted in rescues of malnourished children.
   In Oklahoma, she volunteered for Cornerstone Youth Mentoring Program and Cleveland County Juvenile Services, both of Norman, OK. Rachel was the 2003 Volunteer of The Year in Cleveland County, OK. Rachel is a Leadership Richardson Alumnus from Class 29. She is a University of Oklahoma 2005 graduate and was a member of Alpha Chi Omega. She currently lives in Richardson in Heights Park and is employed by Keller Williams.
D cannot say enough about this outstanding young lady except to say she helped to convince her mother, Gwen Savant, to join Richardson East Rotary after visiting us herself. Both of them recently traveled back to Guatemala for more volunteer work. Rachel embodies the Four-Way Test in all that she does. Like Paul Harris, her focus is on local and international service projects. To quote Paul Harris: “But he who has once given himself to dreaming is not easily satisfied.” THAT is Rachel G. Savant.
   Don and Valerie Tarrant – Don and Valerie were employed at RISD - he for 36 years and she for 30 years. Don taught history and geography at West Junior High and finished at Berkner High School. Valerie taught grades 1-6 at Aikin Elementary and worked with special needs students at Greenwood Hills Elementary.
Both retired in 2004. Don and Valerie work as a team of volunteers to help local kids and adults. In Richardson, they work at Network of Community Ministries. Much of their effort is in the Network food pantry, where they distribute food to those in need. They also work with the Santa Program to organize toys, choose toys and distribute them to parents in financial need.
   Outside of Network, they have volunteered with Ark House, serving on the board of directors. They served as Facilities Managers for the 21 apartments owned by Ark House to make sure that they were ready for families coming here for extended medical treatments.
They also are members of the Senior Council Board of Senior Gathering, a program offered by First United Methodist Church. The program provides lunch, education and entertainment for seniors at the church. They find organizations, vendors, a Sunday School Class or a senior living community to sponsor their events
Don and Valerie exemplify Paul Harris in the giving of their time, energy and organizational skills to our community. Paul Harris used those same skills in the founding and expansion of Rotary.

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