Every community needs heroes

If you look up the word “hero” in a dictionary, you will find it is defined as a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character; a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model.

The word hero can mean many things these days. Even though the term “hero” has been around for hundreds of years, the basic characteristics of what makes a hero have remained the same. In everyday terms, a hero has demonstrated strong personal character and characteristics like social responsibility, willingness to get involved, accountability to their community, and a spirit that embraces helpfulness and kindness.

Communities that are thriving often have a quality called “social capital” which is frequently measured in terms of social cohesion and personal investment in the community. There are nine indicators that determine the amount of social capital within a community; trust, cooperation, mutual support, caring, respect, cohesiveness, commitment, investment and civic responsibility. Social capital is also referenced as the value people receive in their daily lives from other people such as, goodwill, fellowship, friendship, mutual support and social interaction. In short, it is people caring about other people. Communities with high levels of social capital are blessed with citizens, i.e. heroes that are engaged and willing to get involved to make a difference.

Today, we can find individuals in our community who embody these same principles. They’re altruistic; they put others before themselves; they stand up to injustices; they want to make a difference and they do what is morally right. In some situations, the concept of bravery may come into play, but it often takes a back seat to a good heart and a strong moral character.

The Serve our Servants organization in partnership with the United Way and Community Foundation of Greater Fort Dodge is hosting this year’s Heroes Luncheon on Wednesday at Willow Ridge. We do this because we believe it is important to recognize citizens and servants that are making a difference in our community. We believe that many “heroes” are regular people, living normal lives — when suddenly they find themselves in circumstances which needed them to taken action. Other heroes are people who were willing to step up and commit to something, not for personal gain, but to make a difference in peoples’ lives, usually people less fortunate than themselves, or to help make their community a better place to live.

This year’s Heroes Luncheon will recognize citizens who are heroes in our community. They are the selfless first responders or other citizens who go above and beyond to make a difference to benefit others or to benefit their community. The public is invited to this luncheon to help us recognize and celebrate these heroes.

The Rev. Al Henderson founded SOS. Randy Kuhlman is chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way.

2018 Heroes Award Recipients

Dr. Dan Cole — Servant of the Year

Caitlyn Keeland — Servant of the Year

Dan Riley — For assisting a police officer in distress

Ryan Buman — For stopping an arsonist

Michelle Brown — For helping accident victims

Rebecca Kiesecker — For helping accident victims

Susan Ahlers Leman — Community Hero

John Copper — Community Hero

Volunteers of Operation Christmas — Community Heroes

Heroes Luncheon

The Heroes Luncheon is Wednesday at noon at the Willow Ridge Golf Course. The public is invited to share in this celebration. Lunch is provided at no charge. Seating is limited so please RSVP by calling the United Way and Community Foundation at 955-8880.


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