Standing in the Chula Vista Elks Lodge parking lot Wednesday night, I tried to figure out what I did to deserve being there.
In my hands was a plaque inscribed with the words “Star-News” “fairness” “diligence” and “objectivity.”
The words were heavy and the recognition perplexing.
Most journalists strive to meet those ideals. A lot of journalists do. To be singled out among the many is humbling.
However, to be in front of a group of selfless people accepting recognition for doing my job and providing a community service was slightly embarrassing.
We get paid to do what we do. The men and women of The Elks and other community service organizations don’t. It felt as though it should have been me giving words of praise and recognition to them.
And so I am.
Thank you for giving of yourselves. For reaching out to lend a helping hand to your neighbors and to strangers. For providing assistance in the way of book drives and scholarships.
Your commitment to making your immediate corner of the world a better place is admirable. Inspiring.
All too often you work behind the scenes and without any desire to be recognized. You raise money when no money seems to exist. You offer your time and in return you ask for more opportunities to give it away.
What you do, the acts of kindness and generosity you perform aren’t what journalists — myself included — consider traditional news. Unfortunately, in the shifting and shrinking landscape that is news media, we don’t have the luxury of publicizing all that is noteworthy. And, at the very least, what you do is noteworthy.
Months ago I clumsily wrote that children should stop being told there is a Santa. Giving credit to an imaginary altruist is a disservice to the men and women of the service clubs who perform good deeds throughout the year.
Of course, those same men and women probably wouldn’t hear of it. They are happier working away from the spotlight and without kudos. It’s all about the kids. And the community.
But it’s also important to recognize that in this world, in our country and in our culture, where so much emphasis is placed on the “I,” there are groups like The Elks and Kiwanis and the various women’s clubs whose members work for the benefit of we and us. Whose selfless goal is to give and seek nothing in return.
Thank you for your diligence and your service.