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 eath on December 4, 1979.
Natalie Owens, 1986 Scholar, presented the 2018 Jake Salley Alumni Service Award for 2018.
Good afternoon. This year I have the privilege of presenting the 2018 Jake Salley Service Award on behalf of my mother, Lucy Owens, who received the award last year. She wanted me to tell you once more how appreciative she was to have received the award. The award is displayed in a prominent place in our home. Every now and then I catch her looking at it, smiling and shaking her head in disbelief. She is so proud of it, and she loves you all very much. So, I want to personally thank you all for loving her enough to have presented her with an award that has meant so much.
There is one thing that I hear from my mom all the time. She says, “But I don’t do anything.” Anyone who knows Miss Lucy knows that this is simply not true. However, I imagine that if we ask any one of our past Jake Salley Service Award winners, we would hear similar comments. “But, I don’t do anything.” “But, I don’t do anything special or extraordinary.” I think my own words when I received the award in 2013 were along the lines of, “But I don’t do anything that someone else couldn’t do. I simply show up and do what I am told.” It reminds me of something that Rev. Norton once said, “Often we do so much and know not that we have done at all.” THAT IS THE SPIRIT OF JAKE SALLEY
Every year we ask someone to try to explain who Jake Salley was, what he did, and why what he did was so important that we honor him to this day with a service award. I can deliver factoids about Jake Salley: 1949 Byrnes Scholar. Loving and devoted family man. Inspiring educator. Serving selflessly for this Foundation until his untimely death in 1979. You have heard all this before, and, honestly, I don’t have any new factoids. I think my Byrnes brother, Jamie Rhodes, said it best when he said, “I didn’t know Jake Salley, but I have known a lot of Jake Salleys.”
You see, each of us has a Jake Salley within us. For those of you who serve, each act of service, great or small is appreciated and important. It doesn’t matter whether you stuff envelopes, help plan this luncheon, present scholarships, or send notes of encouragement to our students. Maybe you have provided a meal or a place to sleep for a night to a student. Whatever you do, continue to do it because THAT IS THE SPIRIT OF JAKE SALLEY.
For those of you who haven’t yet found a place to serve, I encourage you to find your inner Jake Salley. Do that one thing you do better than anyone else- share that talent you’ve been hiding, be the listening voice on the other end of the phone. Do something to return a small portion to the Foundation that has given so much to you and to others because THAT IS THE SPIRIT OF JAKE SALLEY.
The spirit of Jake Salley is found in showing up and doing what you are asked to do. More importantly, it is found in seeing something that needs to be done and doing it before anyone knows it needs doing and before being asked to do it. You see, this Foundation is what it is today because of the countless, selfless acts of service performed by not ONE Jake Salley, but by MANY Jake Salleys, each one serving tirelessly and without the expectation of accolades or awards. This year’s Jake Salley Service Award winner has done this time and again. This year’s award recipient is a quiet servant, one who is always willing to lend a helping hand, and, honestly, is always available.
This year’s recipient has served on the Byrnes Scholars Board several times including a six-year term as president elect, president, and past president. The recipient is known for paying great attention to detail and for helping the Scholars Board focus on how the small things can make a world of difference. This year’s recipient is a 2001 Byrnes Scholar, a proud Clemson graduate, and current employee of the Greenville Health System where she works as a nurse anesthetist. This year’s Jake Salley Award winner genuinely loves and cares about this Foundation and the people in it as evidenced by her many acts of service. Finally, this year’s award winner does all of these things while raising three beautiful children and being a wife to her wonderful husband. We thank them for allowing her to do all that she does for us.
Ladies and gentlemen, without further delay, I present to you the 2018 Jake Salley Service Award recipient, Mrs. Racquel Wohlers.
First awarded in 1980, the following Byrnes Scholars have received the Jake Salley Alumni Service Award:
In return for their generosity and support, Mom and Pop Byrnes asked only two things from us: become the very best people we could become in life, and make sure their legacy of family continues for those who come after us.
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