Mission accomplished

LEWISTOWN – Area residents gathered Tuesday night to honor Phyllis Palm, the recipient of the 2013 Brotherhood Citation Award.

Palm, a member of Highland Park Presbyterian Church and local volunteer, was recognized for the award, presented annually by the Mifflin County Roundtable of Christians and Jews, during a special dinner held at the Moose Family Center in Lewistown.

“I’m just simply still overwhelmed,” she said, as she addressed a full room of friends, acquaintances and supporters.

She said it was heartwarming and “totally amazing” to be recognized.

Palm said her desire to volunteer within the community came from a desire to give back in some way that would make a difference.

“Home is where your story begins,” she said.

Growing up, Palm said her mother instilled in her the desire to care, the initiative to accomplish and wings to fly. Volunteering has opened her eyes to a whole different world, she said.

Palm thanked the organizations she serves for the opportunity to learn with them. She also thanked her family and others who have supported her work over the years.

She closed with a passage from 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Jim Tunall, president of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau, served as master of ceremonies for the evening. He introduced a number of community representatives who came forward to honor Palm for her contributions.

Marie Mulvihill, executive director of the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata, said she started working at Lewistown Hospital in 1982, where Palm served in many capacities during her career, including vice president of operations.

“On behalf of the women in this community, you rock things, Phyllis!” she said.

Mulvihill said Palm helped build her as a leader in the community, and she read Palm a poem entitled, “The more you give, the more you get.”

“I really think that’s who you are,” she told Palm.

Ron Cowan, representative of Lewistown Hospital, said it was truly an honor to address the crowd in honor of Palm. He said Palm grew from a student to a teacher to a leader within the hospital.

Cowan read quotes from staff and administration commending Palm for her many years of service. One individual said Palm was “my boss for many years, but more importantly a role model.” Others said she “devoted total professional energies” to her efforts and provided “leadership, knowledge and integrity.”

“Recipients like Phyllis spend a lifetime doing good in the community,” Cowan said.

Bill Hayes, president and CEO of Kish Bank, said in his work with Palm, it became very clear to him that she was a woman who was caring, nurturing and worked in the best interest of the community.

“…especially in the valley, they say the cream rises to the top,” and with Palm, that has always been the case, he said.

Joe Cannon, representative of The Sentinel and The County Observer, said he has known and admired Palm for many years. The newspapers’ job is to go out and gather news, he said, and Palm’s name keeps coming up for her work in the community.

“Phyllis has always been willing to step in and get the job done,” he said.

Steve Palm, of the Kiwanis Club of Lewistown, said he was excited when he knew he could be at the awards dinner to honor Palm as a nurse, educator and volunteer.

“She enjoys a challenge,” he said, adding that she has solutions to situations that might seem hopeless.

“When we ask her to do something, she’s there,” he said.

As Steve looked out over the room, he turned and said, “Phyllis, they’re here for you.”

Dan Bennett, president of the Rotary Club of Lewistown, said he did not have the privilege of knowing Palm personally, but “I have heard her name mentioned with everything that’s good in this community.”

Tom Walker, of the Penn State University Advisory Board, said Palm has served in an advisory capacity for PSU and helped expand programming on the local and state levels.

He said someone once told him that Palm can’t say no to an opportunity to lend a helping hand.

“I think that’s true,” he said.

Other community presenters were: Bob Lepley, of FAME EMS; Rob Postal, of Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation and Mifflin County Development Authority; John Brenneman, assistant to Sen. Jake Corman; Sue Burkholder, assistant to Rep. Adam Harris; and Dorothy Rudy, of Highland Park Presbyterian Church and the Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association.

Various citations, awards and charitable donations were presented to Palm on behalf of the community agencies and organizations represented.

Robert Ingram, co-chairperson of the Mifflin County Roundtable of Christians and Jews and the recipient of the 2012 Brotherhood Award, presented Palm with this year’s Brotherhood Award.

“What more can I say?” he asked about following the sentiments of so many other community partners. “The committee picked a very, very worthy recipient.”

The Mifflin County Roundtable of Christians and Jews honors a man, woman or group annually through the Brotherhood Award, which recognizes the goodness of humankind. Award recipients demonstrate, through religious, community or other humane works, the qualities that embrace brotherhood. The award has been presented since 1952.