The Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish recently held their “People of the Year” ceremony where they honored distinguished St. Charles Parish residents who have given back to the local community.
Each year the Rotary Club honors a St. Charles Parish Citizen of the Year who best personifies their Rotary International motto “Service above Self.” Those awarded are chosen for committing their lives and giving their time and talents to bettering the community.
This year’s Citizens of the Year were Gary and Cathy Dolese of Luling.
The Doleses have made their mark on numerous St. Charles Parish children who have participated in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts over the past three decades.
“We are just honored to have people recognize us for all of the work we do from the heart. We do it for the kids and we didn’t expect to be honored,” Gary said.
The Doleses first moved to St. Charles Parish in 1978 when Gary began his 30-year career in the chemistry department at Waterford III. The couple raised four sons in St. Charles Parish and first started their foray into scouting activities after their eldest son was old enough to join the Cub Scouts in 1982.
Gary said the couple rose in the ranks of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts along with their children.
“My wife started out in the Cub Scouts as a den mother when my children were in Cub Scouts. Once our sons moved up to Boy Scouts, I moved up as an assistant scoutmaster with Scout Troop 323,” he said.
Cathy has since served as Cubmaster for Pack 370, sponsored by St. Anthony Church, and Pack 371, sponsored by Holy Family Church.
As the years have progressed, the Doleses have gotten more and more involved in the scouting programs. Gary and Cathy are both recipients of the “Silver Beaver,” one of scouting’s highest awards, and have also taken the “Woodbadge” Adult Leader Course.
Cathy, a retired registered nurse, is now assisting in national programs for the Cub Scouts.
“She has run Cub Scout day programs for the council. The last 10 years she has been conducting a national camping school for the director,” Gary said.
Since retiring from Entergy, Gary has also become more involved with the Boy Scouts organization. He currently runs a regional shooting program that includes scouts from the Houma/Thibodaux area through the Greater New Orleans Region and the Northshore. In the summer he also volunteers at the Southeast regional camp in Mississippi.
“It is all volunteer work. In fact, for about the middle of May to the middle of July I spend most of my time at the Boy Scout camp in Mississippi coming back and forth on the weekends,” he said.
Gary said he and Cathy’s time in scouting has been very rewarding.
“Most parents only get to watch their own sons grow up and I’ve seen tons of kids come throughout the years when they are 11 years old and stay until they are 18, and some become assistant scout masters,” Gary said. “It is rewarding to see that, how they develop over the years, and they don’t forget. I’ve seen what the program has done for my sons. If I can help some other boys get the same benefit out of it, that is what we hope to do.”
The Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish also named its annual Young People of the Year at the ceremony.
This year, the awards went to Hahnville High School senior Bailey Wilson and Destrehan High School senior Caleb Hempel. Wilson has been active in cheerleading in her four years at HHS and was a captain this year. During her time in high school, she has been involved in numerous volunteer opportunities.
“Through cheerleading, I was able to implement and oversee numerous service projects for the community with the help of my teammates and sponsors. This year, our projects benefited organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Second Harvest Food Bank, a local National Guard group serving in Afghanistan, children in need and Miracles to Milestones,” she said.
This fall Wilson will be enrolling at Louisiana State University majoring in biochemistry with the intention of going on to dental school afterward.
“I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life, and plan on continuing giving back to the community through service,” she said.
Hempel received the award after being involved in numerous volunteer and service programs, including those in concert with the St. Charles Parish Rotary Club, throughout his high school career.
While at Destrehan High School, Hempel has distinguished himself as ROTC Wing Commander, the highest student-held position within the ROTC program, and was recommended for the award by ROTC instructors at DHS.