Ivan H. Scheier, one of the true American pioneers of the field of volunteerism said: The broadest, and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering: Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good.
Part of the success of any community is its volunteers. The Community Spirit is proud to announce that the recipient of the 2014 Person of the Year is Brandon “Butch” Sommers. Many people feel that Butch deserves this honor and as one nominee, Joan Johnson stated, he gives selflessly of his time and talents. Lonnie and Jo Krogwold wrote: We feel Butch makes a difference in our entire community. Any week, any month of the year, he’s there willing to help.
Butch says he has been a volunteer for over 25 years, starting as a child with the Tomorrow River Conservation Club where he still spends the majority of his volunteer hours. When asked if he can recall how many organizations he has volunteered for, he chuckled at the thought of that extensive history. He lists first, the Conservation Club. His Mother, Kathy Sommers proudly keeps track of his many accomplishments and shared this list of his Conservation Club contributions including, attending every meeting; being involved with the Hunter Safety Program for 20 years, the past 10 as a Certified Hunter Safety Instructor; purchasing fishing poles and teaching at Youth Fishing Day; heading up multiple shifts at the Amherst Fair; organizing and selling for the 50/50 and gun raffles; purchasing and collecting donations; pheasant releases; tree distribution, and fisheree projects.
Another testament to Butch’s dedication and compassion is the story of how several weeks ago, he took a vacation day from his job, loaded up his truck with 1500 pounds of potatoes, and drove to Mooseheart, Il. to provide the orphans there with food during the winter. All of of this on his own time and expense.
Also a member of the Royal Order of the Moose since 1996, Sommers is a past Prelate, Trustee and is currently the Treasurer. He helps organize and work on several projects with them throughout the year including delivering meals on Thanksgiving Day. He also volunteers for the Amherst Lions and Lioness Clubs throughout the year for Amherst Softball Tournaments, cooking for the winter snowmobile Ice Wars and working the entire weekend for the Chandler Baseball Tournament in order to help raise scholarship funds.
When asked what motivated him to organize his more recent fundraiser, Sommers said “I was 39 and realized that my 40th birthday was going to fall on a Saturday so instead of regular party, I thought I should have a party for a worthwhile cause, a fundraiser for a local group or event. I had a few ideas and narrowed it down to a couple of different organizations but when I went to the Amherst Memorial Day ceremony and parade, I heard that they were building a Veterans Memorial and I knew right then and there, let’s do it for the Amherst VFW.” Up to 250 people attended his special birthday party. They held 50/50 raffles and also raffled off a couple of Packer and Brewer game tickets. All together, they raised $1,050 for the Amherst VFW project. Another Sommers’ supporter, Kelly Trzebiatowski wrote, Who else would plan a birthday party but have the main focus be raising money for our community?
Does he have a special memory or story from his many years of volunteering? He said “Not one in particular that stands out, they’re all great! The nice thing about volunteering is you get to see and meet a lot of new people and make a lot of new friends.”
The Spirit will formally present the award to Butch at the Spring Scholarship Awards Ceremony next May.
He is now the eleventh “Person of the Year” honored by the Community Spirit, which began the program in 2004 to recognize are area residents who go above and beyond to make the Tomorrow River area a special place to live.
Previous winners were: Mark Olson in 2004; Don Aylesworth in 2005, Hans and Jane Suomi in 2006, Rich Stuczynski in 2007, Shelly Platten in 2008, Janet Glodowski in 2009, Ken and Barb Konkol in 2010, Connie Pitt in 2011, Aralda Bell in 2012, and Terry Anderson in 2013.
We received many noteworthy nominations this year and the decision was challenging. Everyone should feel free to re-submit nominees in 2015.
Congratulations and thank you to the 2014 runner ups:
Dave Allen; Jim & Sara Ambrose Family, Ida Mae Frizzell, Betty Helbach, and LaVerne Slais.