Helping people, especially youngsters in need of a kind heart and listening ear, is what Jesse Lockhart and Tony Anderson are all about.
Now, someone has done a good turn for them.
Flint Energies’ Lockhart and Cherryland Electric Cooperative’s Anderson will be among 60 super volunteers setting sail on an all-expense paid cruise to Alaska this summer after being nominated by colleagues at their respective co-ops.
“Shocked and humbled” is how both honorees described their initial reaction when learning that colleagues chose them for passage on “Community Celebrities,” sponsored by Vermont-based Cabot Creamery Cooperative for the sixth straight year.
Cherryland Electric Co-op’s Kerry Kalbfleisch nominated Anderson, general manager of the co-op in Grawn, Michigan, and NRECA Michigan Director, for his involvement with a local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter.
“Given all of Tony’s responsibilities, he could easily say that he has no time for any other community involvement,” Kalbfleisch wrote.
And as a volunteer coach for middle and high schoolers and a children’s rights advocate, Lockhart is “like the big brother, favorite uncle or dad these kids never had,” wrote Marian McLemore, vice president of cooperative communications, in her written nomination to Cabot Creamery.
“Quite simply, the world is a better place with Jesse around,” wrote McLemore. “Anything Jesse can do to improve a child’s life, he will.”
RUNNING THE RACE
A marathon runner, Anderson has raised about $210,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan by running the 26.2-mile race in 35 states. As a result, hundreds of youngsters have been matched with an adult, said Anderson.
On his fundraising website, Marathon4Kids, Anderson collects donations and blogs about his goal of running marathons in all 50 states.
“My father died in October 1963, when I was 18 months old, so I lived the story of a lot of these kids and have grown up in their shoes,” said Anderson.
“I can talk about the importance of having a mentor. I didn’t have Big Brothers in my life, but I had others,” said Anderson. “I grew up in South Dakota, in a small town where everyone knew my story … a grandfather, banker, grocer. In bigger towns, where the community doesn’t know every kid’s story, Big Brothers gets those stories out and finds people who can help those kids.”
Flint Energies’ Lockhart isn’t involved in a Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter in Georgia, but he’s done lots of volunteering, playing pickup games at military base rec centers in Orlando, Florida, and now at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins.
“There are a lot of single moms with two or three kids who don’t have anyone else to give them additional guidance. That’s what got me doing this wholeheartedly,” said Lockhart, an advanced metering infrastructure supervisor at the Reynolds, Georgia, co-op.
“When kids spend quality time with an adult, especially when you have them compete in sports, they learn lot more than ball-handling skills,” said Lockhart. “They can learn a lot of life lessons. I’ve also stayed in touch with some parents over the years.”
Lockhart said when his CEO told him about the cruise: “I thought they were kidding. I was blown away.”
That’s a common reaction among honorees, said Nate Formalarie, communications manager at Cabot Creamery. In addition to being modest, “across the board, these are busy folks,” said Formalarie. “It’s a great opportunity for them to network and forget about what’s going on in the world.”
While on the cruise, Anderson is looking forward to learning his shipmates’ fundraising ideas. Lockhart wants outreach ideas. And while he’s at it, he wants to share a little wisdom with others.
“I’ll tell them to pass it on. When kids are adults, they will always remember you.”
Editor’s note: Cabot Creamery is an associate member of NRECA. NRECA did not sponsor or endorse the contest.
Victoria A. Rocha is a staff writer at NRECA.