GREENVILLE — Upon receiving his award as the 2013 Fred and Lina Meijer Spirit of Caring Award, the Rev. Jerry Jones was at a loss for words.
Jones discovered he was the recipient by surprise Thursday evening when family members from Ohio, who had been hidden from view as not to spoil the surprise, entered the dining room at the Winter Inn in Greenville to greet and congratulate him.
In a pleasant state of shock, the reverend at First Congregational Church in Greenville hadn’t prepared to deliver any words about himself, so in a matter most fitting, he appropriately turned to God.
“By vocation I’m a wordsmith and I just don’t have any words,” said Jones to a collective group of 45 individuals gathered at the Winter Inn. “I’ve been thinking today about the kind of language we would need to thank a community for people of selflessness. As much as I’d be blowing my own whistle … please join me in the spirit of prayer.”
Jones then said what seconds before he believed he could not, by giving thanks through prayer.
“Lord God, we give thanks,” said Jones as everyone collectively bowed their heads. “We give thanks for community, that you set us squarely in a place where caring really matters, where difference making matters, where selflessness is that which builds an even bigger community. We give thanks Lord God, that we are all together in this, building stronger, building better and truly caring. In Christ’s name … Amen.”
Jones is the eighth recipient of the Spirit of Caring Award. According to foundation chairman Dr. Rocky Hansen, the Spirit of Caring Award is “presented to an individual who has demonstrated a remarkable and dedicated commitment to improving the quality of life for the people in our community now and for future generations.”
In the spirit of tradition, Jones was introduced by the 2012 recipient, William Ham.
“This is an individual who doesn’t know the word ‘no,’” Ham said of Jones. “(He) has made his home in the Greenville area for more than 17 years and everyone feels they know this person as a friend or someone they would seek for guidance.”
Ham listed several organizations of which Jones is a member, including the Spectrum Health United Quality and Safety Committee, Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Coalition of Montcalm County, Biomedical Ethics Committee, United Lifestyles, North Kent Guidance Service Advisory Committee, and Greenville Public Schools Health Advisory.
“ I am pleased to report that (Jones) was determined through unanimous decision and received many nominations,” Ham continued. “In the past six years (Jones) has helped raise more than $5 million to build and improve our local hospital. He has a strong belief that high quality schools, health care and faith centers are what makes a community whole as well.”
The 2013 Many Hearts One Mission Charity Ball will be held on Feb. 9 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. The formal affair will include the presentation of the Fred and Lena Meijer Spirit of Caring Award, dinner and dancing.
Past recipients include Bill Braman, 2006; Blanche Ash, 2007; Linda Stafford, 2008; Dr. Donald C. Burns, 2009; William F. and Harriette C. Cook and Byron J. and Dolores M. Cook, 2010; Dr. Roger L. Coles, 2011; and William T. Ham, 2012.