(Above photo) George Brookins (third from left) was award the 2007 Samuel B. Burrus Award for Community Service. With Brookins are (from left) Burrus family members Stephen Burrus and Blanche Burrus Clark and Brookinsâ€™ daughter, Lauren and wife Sally. (Bottom photo) Also recognized at the same April ceremony for community pharmacy service was Patrick Fletcher (at right, with Stefanie Ferreri, the professor who nominated him), who received the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Outstanding Student Member Award. Fletcher will be graduating May 2008 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill school of pharmacy.
Two Lincolnton residents were honored April 29 at a ceremony presented by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy for their work in community pharmacy.
One, Patrick Fletcher is still a student there, planning on graduating May 2008. The other is George Brookins, who has owned The Drug Store since 1995.
Fletcher received the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Outstanding Student Member Award at the ceremony.
A 2002 graduate of Lincolnton High School and son of Louis and Libby Fletcher, he has worked at Keever Pharmacy since he was 16.
â€œWorking here is what pushed me to pursue that route,â€ said Fletcher.
His involvement with the NCPA involved being chairperson of the community pharmacy special interests group. Fletcherâ€™s responsibilities included arranging speakers and activities designed to introduce students to community pharmacy and overall promotion of community pharmacy.
â€œI think pharmacists are the patientâ€™s closest contact with a health care provider,â€ Fletcher said.
Fletcher thinks some people may not be aware of everything that goes into a pharmacistâ€™s job.
â€œThey think we just count by fives and fill bottles,â€ he said.
For his part, Fletcher has used his knowledge of pharmacy for much more. He helped coordinate diabetic and blood pressure screenings at churches in Hillsborough and Durham. He also recruited pharmacy students to speak to people about health issues at clinics a couple times each semester.
â€œI think every person deserves someone they can talk to about their health,â€ Fletcher said.
Helping indigent populations is important to Fletcher, and he hopes to continue that sort of work as a professional.
Although Fletcher says he was surprised to get the award, he was nonetheless honored.
â€œIt was gratifying to know someone thought what I was doing was worthwhile and meaningful,â€ said Fletcher.
In the future, Fletcher wants to have his own independent pharmacy like Keever, where he still works when heâ€™s home from school.
If that pans out, Fletcher will be following in the footsteps of fellow local honoree Brookins, who was honored with the Samuel Burrus Award for Community Service back in April.
â€œItâ€™s for alumni who provide community service outside the realm of pharmacy practice,â€ said Brookins.
The Burrus family has been pharmacists for five generations. Brookins says that Samuel Burrus, the awardâ€™s namesake, was known as a philanthropist who was very involved with his community.
Although someone at the School of Pharmacy obviously thought Brookins was worthy of the award, he remains humble about the honor, even to the point of being humorously self-deprecatory.
â€œI think it was just a slow year,â€ he said.
Brookinsâ€™ community involvement activities include Rotary, a 10-year stint on the board of Hospice, a place on the executive committee of the Piedmont Council of Boy Scouts and involvement with First Methodist Church, the YMCA board and the University of North Carolina at Charlotteâ€™s School of Health and Human Services.
He is also a founding director of Carolina Trust Bank; member of the NCPA; and 2001 Rotary Man of the Year.
â€œI try to give back to the community,â€ said Brookins.
It seems Brookins has even found a way to give back to his community through receiving this award.
He received both a monetary award as well as money that was to go to a charity of his choice. Brookins opted to give both the donation and the portion that was supposed to be his to Helping Hands Health Clinic.
â€œItâ€™s a good group that I know and I try to help some,â€ Brookins said. â€œI wouldnâ€™t feel right if I didnâ€™t give it. Itâ€™s not my money. That money needs to go to help folks.â€
Roberta Wilson of Helping Hands was thrilled with the donation.
â€œIt was incredibly generous,â€ she said.
Brookinsâ€™ generous spirit didnâ€™t come about by accident.
He says his mother, who was a nurse in the rural community where he grew up, inspired him to become a pharmacist.
â€œShe was a caregiver,â€ said Brookins. â€œI was brought up that you give what you can where you can and when you can.â€
Itâ€™s a philosophy that Brookins is obviously living.
He gives a lot of credit to the people who helped him over the years. He points out that, no matter where people go in life, others helped them to get there.
This community has taken care of Brookins just as he tries to take care of it. He remembers vividly the support he and his family received when his son Jonathan was killed in a car accident in 1998.
â€œIâ€™d like to thank the people of Lincolnton and Lincoln County,â€ Brookins said. â€œTheyâ€™ve been good to me and my family.â€
Although they both call Lincolnton home, neither Fletcher nor Brookins knew the other one was receiving an award from the School of Pharmacy.
So it was a surprise when they realized they were both representing Lincolnton.
â€œTo have someone receive that award and to know they were from Lincolnton was very special,â€ said Fletcher.
Brookins sees it as a coincidence that actually says a lot about the community-minded nature of the people of Lincoln County.
It reminds him of the community in which he grew up, Harlowe, a town Brookins said is smaller than Crouse.
â€œPeople took care of each other,â€ Brookins said. â€œI think that still happens here in Lincolnton. I hope we donâ€™t lose that.â€
About community pharmacy
Community pharmacy is about being there for the community as an easily-accessible source of information. It involves pharmacists using their knowledge to help the community. This includes things like blood pressure or cholesterol screenings for people in the community, as well as diabetes clinics to educate the public on the disease.
by Allyson Levine