The Jake Salley Alumni Service Award is presented annually to a Byrnes Scholar whose life and contributions characteristically reflect those of Jake Salley, a loyal Byrnes Scholar, a devoted family man and an inspiring educator who gave untiringly of himself to The Byrnes Scholars and to others until his untimely death on December 4, 1979.
Following is the text of the introduction of the 2014 Jake Salley Award recipient by Natalie Owens, 1986 Scholar and 2013 Jake Salley Award recipient.
Good morning. This is the portion of our program where we memorialize our dear friend Jake Salley, recognize his contributions to our foundation and present the Jake Salley Alumni Service Award to a deserving Byrnes Scholar alumnus who has demonstrated the same commitment to service for which Jake was known.
For our incoming freshmen and your families, a bit of history. Jake Salley was a member of the original 1949 Byrnes Scholar class. He was known as a loving and devoted family man, an inspiring educator and for his untiring service to this foundation until his untimely death in 1979. Jake Salley was known for having performed unselfish and often unglamorous acts of service, most notably that of taking out the garbage. But I have always thought there has to have been more to Jake Salley than a legacy of taking out the trash. After all, a lot of people perform that chore but they don’t necessarily have service awards given in their honor. So, what was it about Jake Salley?
In trying to answer this question, I came across a quote by another of our dear friends, Mr. Andy Courtney, who in reflecting on his first Super Weekend experience during a 1998 address at this very luncheon, said the following about Jake Salley:
I remember helping Jake Salley wash pots and pans, carry out garbage and generally be a handy man around the camp. I will always be thankful for having known Jake and sharing kitchen duties with him. Jake was the kind of man who showed you the way by example. He didn’t say, ‘Now I want you to carry out the garbage.’ He just took hold of one side of the garbage can and you knew right away that he expected you to grab the other side. An untimely death from a heart attack took Jake from us long before we were ready to give him up. I hold Jake in my memory as one who exemplified the spirit of the Byrnes Scholars.
A fine tribute to an exceptional man from an equally exceptional man.
So, what is the picture we have of Jake Sally? Loving, inspiring, untiring and hard-working. Devoted, unselfish and willing to perform the most mundane of tasks, not for glory or recognition but because the task simply needs to be done. A person who leads by example, demonstrates dedication to this foundation and exemplifies the spirit of the Byrnes Scholars. These are the qualities and characteristics we look for when determining who will receive a Jake Salley Alumni Service Award. This year’s award recipient fits this description to a tee, even down to her choice of profession.
In addition to these qualities, this year’s recipient brings to my remembrance something that Rev. Hal Norton once said to us at Super Weekend. He was talking about how the small things we do in life affect those around us and he made the following statement, “Often, you do so much and know not that you have done at all.” I venture to say that this year’s Jake Salley Alumni Service Award recipient has no idea the impact she has had on those around her.
This year’s award recipient is a quiet servant. She can be counted on to arrive at Byrnes events first, eager to help set up, and she is often one of the last to leave after having helped to clean up. She can be counted on to answer with two responses when called upon. The first being, “What do you need?”, which is quickly followed by the second, “How can I help?” At official Byrnes events, this person has demonstrated Jake Salley-esq service by performing bathroom clean up duties at Super Weekend, lifting and decorating tables at Fall dinners and manning the Byrnes Store at June luncheons. This year’s recipient has served on the Scholars Board several times and has been ever willing to be pressed into service when not serving as a board member in order to assist with all manner of tasks. Whether it is stuffing envelopes or tying 250 tiny little bows on handmade programs for the 60th Anniversary Brynes Luncheon, this Scholar has demonstrated, time and again, a willingness to do whatever is required.
Beyond the obvious service at official events, this year’s Jake Salley Alumni Service Award recipient shines in the “in between times.” That is to say, she serves in between official events, performing the tasks that make this foundation what it is. She serves by doing the little things that strengthen our bonds and build the invaluable relationships with other scholars that make us a family. This person frequently invites students to dinner and picks up the tab. She is constantly providing encouragement and spiritual support to other scholars, both students and alumni. This year’s recipient has even opened her home to students when campus housing was in short supply. Most recently, this year’s Jake Salley service award winner has gladly accepted the title of unofficial Byrnes Scholar tech support. As such, she has agreed to serve on the James F. Byrnes Cookbook committee where she has been given the daunting task of helping yours truly navigate the world of technology. Those of you who know me know that this act alone would qualify anyone to receive a service award! Seriously, this year’s Alumni Service Award recipient embodies so many of the qualities for which Jake Salley was known. She has dedicated herself not only to the service of this foundation but to her family, friends, coworkers and community.
Like Jake Salley, this year’s award recipient is an inspiring educator who received a Bachelors degree in Special Education in 2003 from Winthrop University. She went on to receive a Master of Education degree in Educational Technology from the University of South Carolina in 2009. She serves as Vice President of the Alpha Delta Kappa education sorority. This year’s Jake Salley award recipient is currently employed at Irmo Middle School, here in Columbia, where she serves her students as a special education teacher and her colleagues as teacher technology leader. Due to her outstanding merit in the field of education, she was awarded honors as the Irmo Middle School Teacher of the Year for the 2013-14 school year. In addition to her noteworthy professional credentials, this year’s Jake Salley Alumni Service Award recipient is a loving daughter, devoted sister, doting auntie and a faithful friend.
Ladies and gentlemen, without further delay, I present to you the 2014 Jake Salley Alumni Service Award recipient, a 1999 Byrnes Scholar and the sister of my heart…Miss April Garrett.
First awarded in 1980, the following Byrnes Scholars have received the Jake Salley Alumni Service Award:
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