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One of two people honored by the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce last Thursday for their service to the community said he didn’t think much about the time he has volunteered to serve children in the community.
The other recipient of an Abe Award said he’s only one of many giving time to improve the quality of life in Vandalia.
Both Rod Deem and Tom McCarty were recognized for serving the community in numerous ways.
In presenting an Abe Award to Deem, incoming chamber Vice President Shaun Murray told how Deem came to Vandalia to teach fifth grade at Washington Elementary School.
He later became principal of that school, and retired in 1999 after serving the school district for more than 30 years.
Upon his retirement, Deem played an instrumental role in the development of Vandalia Christian Academy in 2000, and has served as its principal on a voluntary basis since the school’s inception.
“I’ve been told that this individual always thinks about the kids – it’s always about the kids and making a difference in their lives,” Murray said.
“He retired so he could fulfill a vision, a vision that he had to bring Christian education to Vandalia.
“He cares so deeply for the children that he has dedicated his entire life to them,” Murray said.
“Mr. Deem has worked hard to show the citizens of Vandalia that one individual can make a difference, a difference in many people’s lives,” he said.
Murray also noted Deem’s service with the Vandalia Jaycees, Family YMCA of Fayette County, Evans Public Library Board of Trustees, First Baptist Church and various church committees, and the Fayette County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors. He has also helped student teachers at Greenville College.
“These are all great and fulfilling accomplishments in this person’s life, but this individual has had a dream, a vision to create something greater, something for the good of the cause, something for the kids,” Murray said.
“Many people have a vision on how to improve their community," he said, “But only a select few have the ability to take that vision, apply dedication, apply commitment and make that vision a reality.
“It’s a unique gift that only a select few have, and I can honestly say that (Deem) has that gift,” Murray said.
Accepting the award, Deem said, “I’m speechless.”
Vandalia Christian Academy, he said, “has done well, thanks to so many people. Of course, a project like this doesn’t work unless you have good people with you.
“I never thought about the fact that I was volunteering my time,” Deem said. “It was just such a wonderful atmosphere, and I enjoy what I’m doing.”
In presenting the second Abe Award, incoming chamber Secretary Dana Whiteman said that McCarty “has devoted a large part of his live to serving Vandalia and the surrounding area.”
For the past 25 years, Whiteman said, McCarty has served with “everything from a book to a hammer.”
She noted that his 25-year membership in the Vandalia Rotary Club has included serving as the organization’s president and vice president, and that he has been recognized as a Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow for his contributions of time, talents and financial support.
He has served as treasurer of the Evans Public Library Board since 1995, is the current president of the Friends of the Library and is a director for the library’s foundation.
McCarty is in his third year as a volunteer with Fayette County Habitat for Humanity, and his service to that organization has included recruiting other volunteers, Whiteman said. In the past year, McCarty has agreed to serve on the HFH Board of Directors.
He also has served on the Parkview Free Methodist Church Board, and as an officer for the Vandalia Chamber.
“He has made a positive mark on the lives of so many people,” Whiteman said.
“He is a shining example that positive people doing positive things can create a culture of positive thinking,” she said.
McCarty downplayed his service to the community, saying that there are many others doing the same kinds of things.
“There are a lot of good people in the community, a lot of people who deserve this award,” he said. “It’s an honor to live and serve in the community.”