Anticipation was keen June 19 at the annual Lions Club scholarship banquet. In addition to the awarding of two $500 scholarships that will be paid directly to the colleges each recipient will be attending, the local club installed its officers and committee leaders for 2007 – 2008.
It was also a night wrought with emotion, as the mother of one of the scholarship recipients told a tearful account of trials and tribulations.
After dispensing with the usual opening formalities, Charles Stevens, Lions Club scholarship chairman explained the members and guests alike the scholarship program. He touched upon what all applicants had to demonstrate, through an essay as well as academically and on a volunteer to the community basis.
â€œThere were 12 applicants,â€ said Stevens. â€œIf I could, I would have given 10 more scholarships. All were very deserving.â€
As an added twist to this yearâ€™s banquet, this yearâ€™s two recipients, Jessica Christine McBee and Kaitlyn Aleah Devine, read aloud their essays.
McBee, the daughter of Fred and Gwen McBee of Gastonia, who graduated this year from North Gaston High School, plans on attending Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte. In addition to stellar roster of involvement in school activities, McBee has been active in a number of volunteer activities with both her church and the Lions Club.
Her essay expounded upon how often a volunteer derives benefits never intended or even expected.
â€œI have been truly changed by my time volunteering and blessed for everything I have learned through it all,â€ said McBee as she read aloud.
Kaitlyn Aleah Devine, daughter of Todd and Suzanne Devine, who graduated this year from North Lincoln High School, has a number of achievements to her credit, including organizing a coat drive and volunteering for Relay for Life, in addition to school and church involvement.
Devineâ€™s essay focused on how her being afflicted with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age eight, along with related conditons, was instrumental in how she came to commit herself to the well-being of others.
Devine stated she considered herself fortunate to be selected for a special project: She was the only student from NLHS to attend the Legislatorâ€™s School for Leadership at Western Carolina University. She came away with the realization that some children are never selected for special projects.
â€œThere is not a day that goes by that I think about how fortunate I am,â€ she said, reading from her essay. From another part of her essay, she said, â€œYou donâ€™t have to be rich or famous to make a difference.â€
Suzanne Devine then asked to address the gathering, and spoke how Kaitlyn was afflicted with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and how for the next year her daughter struggled with the disease, and the impact it had. At times overcome with tears, Suzanne Devine spoke of the miracle that occurred, in which a stranger approached them in a restaurant, touched Kaitlyn on the head and prayed for her to be healed in the name of Jesus. Kaitlyn claimed the man was her guardian angel, and the next time they went to the attending physician, Kaitlyn was indeed pronounced cured.
There were a number of people sniffling and few dry eyes following Suzanne Devineâ€™s impromptu presentation.
Morris McCarter (left), who has just concluded his term as Lions Club president, congratulates his successor, Robert Spencer. Contraibuted Photo
by Steve Steiner