Each year the Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish recognizes St. Charles Parish citizens who exemplify the club’s motto of “Service Above Self”.
This year Donnie White of Paradis was voted as the Citizen of the Year, and Brooke Jones and Kevell Byrd were each selected as a Rotary Young Person of the Year.
They were honored in a luncheon this month.
Upon retiring from Occidental Chemical Corporation over 15 years ago, White became even more involved with his community. He is a volunteer, altar server and Eucharistic Minister at St. John the Baptist Church, and has assisted in organizing and distributing food monthly for Second Harvest Food Bank for over a decade.
White has also served District 4 as its constable for the last 12 years, and volunteers with St. Charles Social Concerns. He is active in the Knights of Columbus, as well as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
“It blew me away,” White said of the Rotary’s recognition. “It blew me off my feet. I came from a low income and poor family. I didn’t have a whole lot, but I always wanted to give back. I want to give back … it’s my apprecitation for how far I’ve come.”
Rotary Club spokesperson Kelsey Pollock said the Citizen of the Year award is voted on by Rotary members after all nominations are received, and that the Interact Clubs at Destrehan and Hahnville High Schools – clubs that the Rotary Club sponsors – ask its members to nominate students from their schools for their community service.
“Nominees for both awards cannot be members of Rotary or Interact and cannot be immediately related to a member,” Pollock said. “The Rotary Citizen of the Year Award is a long-standing tradition for Rotary Clubs around the world. As a part of an international service organization, the Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish believes it is important to recognize and commend citizens that are making are making a difference in our local community outside of our organization.”
Jones, Destrehan High School’s Rotary Young Person of the Year, is a senior who lives in St. Rose. She is involved in all three choirs at Destrehan, as well as serves as the president of the National Honor Society and the National English Society.
She is also a member of the school’s Beta Club and film crew.
“I got a letter in the mail inviting me to the presentation,” Jones said of learning about her Rotary recognition. “My grandmaw, who I live with, was really proud of me.”
Jones plans to attend Northwestern State University and major in psychology.
Byrd, Hahnville High School’s Rotary Young Person of the Year, is a senior who resides in Luling. She is a member of the art club, thespian club, choir, Beta Club, National Honor Society and the culture club.
Byrd has been involved in both track and cross country in high school, and plans to attend Dillard University on both track and academic scholarships.
“I’m excited to keep pushing forward,” Byrd, who has her own videography and photography business, said. “I’m anxious to meet new people and I’m excited to spread my talents.”