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Each year, the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce presents a pair of Abe Awards. And most years, the announcement of the recipients elicits the same reaction: “It’s about time they were recognized for all the things they have done.”
This year’s honorees – Tony Flowers and Bob Lindberg – fit that pattern. They’ve both toiled for years, sometimes in obscurity and sometimes in the spotlight, but always working for the good of others.
Flowers, a quiet but sincere man, wasn’t widely known until the past couple years when he launched a series of businesses in the downtown area. The Liberty shops are sprinkled all along Gallatin Street, and they offer a wide variety of services – a coin and gun shop, a cheese and sandwich shop, a coffee shop and a sewing shop. They’ve provided much-needed jobs for the Flowers family and others during a time when jobs were hard to come by. And they’ve set a positive tone in the downtown business district.
“It’s all about family,” he told the audience at last week’s chamber banquet. “I didn’t (start the businesses) for me; I did it for my family, and for the people of Vandalia.”
But even in his time in the spotlight, Flowers deflected the credit. “I really don’t want the recognition,” he said. “I just want to be here to help people.”
Similarly, Lindberg sought to share the accolades with the staff and volunteers who have helped advance FAYCO Enterprises during the quarter of a century that he’s headed the organization.
“You don’t do something like this alone,” he said after the program. “It was everybody in the community; little by little, they helped us take the next step.”
During those 25 years, Lindberg said, his approach has shifted. He talked about how in the beginning he was all about running the sheltered workshop “by the book.” But as he got to know the developmentally disabled clients better, his focus shifted to meeting the needs of those clients – “teaching skills, developing jobs and providing residential settings” to help them live full and rewarding lives.
The growth of the organization’s projects in Fayette and surrounding counties clearly demonstrates that his heartfelt approach has yielded much fruit.
Reading through a list of the past Abe winners is like reading a “who’s who” of Vandalia’s history. This year’s recipients may not be ones that clamored for the spotlight, but their behind-the-scenes accomplishments ensure that they fit right in with those who have come before.
Congratulations! Keep up the good work.