Community Service Awards 2018
Sewanee Civic Association Secretary Megan Roberts welcomed members and guests to the April 18, 2018 Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) awards ceremony dubbing the event “a celebration of 110 years of service and social opportunity.”
The SCA accepts nominations for the Community Service Award, with the name of the recipient kept secret until the ceremony. “There were more nominations for Sarah Marhevsky than I’ve ever seen before,” Roberts said. The announcement brought tears to Marhevsky’s eyes. Roberts read from nominations praising Marhevsky “for building connections between families and individuals” and for her service on the boards of the Children’s Center and Community Center, as chair of the Community Council Project Funding Committee, and as PTO president. Marhevsky has set up meal trains for families in need, and, perhaps most notably, created the Plateau Playgroup, which began as a way for parents to coordinate play dates for their kids and expanded into a weekly newsletter with event and opportunity announcements reaching more than 100 people.
“I came here in 2010 with a three-month-old baby and thought I’d be a stay at home mom,” Marhevsky confessed in receiving the award, “but then I began finding people.”
The community was clearly grateful she did. Said one nominator in summing up her gratitude, “For a new parent, in a new place, with very little social support structure, Sarah has been a godsend. My quality of life in Sewanee is much better because of the connections and support I found through Sarah. She inspires me to give more and to participate more in community service activities. She makes life better on this mountain.”
The SCA has only presented the Summa Cum Laude Award three previous times in the organization’s history. The award recognizes the lifetime achievements of individuals for their contributions to the community. The many initiatives embraced by 2018 award recipient Cindy Potter include chairing the Community Action Committee and serving on the Lease Committee, Community Council, and Duck River Electric board of directors. Most endearing, though, is Potter’s gift to the community as an educator in a career spanning nearly 40 years. Potter taught at the Sewanee Children’s Center, served as the Sewanee Elementary School librarian, taught at SES for 25 years, and then moved to St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School to help set up the new sixth grade program. A beloved teacher, Potter inspires young people to generosity of spirit and reflection, guiding students to embrace fund raising activities and tell the stories of the causes they champion. Her “My Spot in the Woods” program urged students to spend quiet time with nature and log their observations.
In receiving the award, Potter thanked the Civic Association, noting the Community Chest paid for her “to serve as the SES librarian all those long years ago.” She also thanked “the people who live here who give Sewanee the unique spirit that makes this place home.” “Most of all, though,” Potter said, “I want to thank the children and families that have been in my life. What a gift to have a life that focuses on children pursuing endless wonder. They’ve challenged me and taught me to pursue the same goals within myself that I wanted for them.”