JACKSON, Tenn. – May 10, 2013– The Jackson Area Chapter of the American Red Cross awarded Union University President David S. Dockery the chapter’s inaugural Humanitarian of the Year award at its Heroes Luncheon May 9 in Jackson.
The local Red Cross board of directors plans to honor someone in the community each year for displaying the spirit of humanity through volunteer work, advocacy, leadership and philanthropy in the community.
Dockery has served on a variety of local boards and has been a strong advocate for community service and racial reconciliation. He said the award was an affirmation of the commitment to service and community represented among Union faculty, staff and students.
Each year, Union observes a Day of Remembrance, during which classes are canceled so students, faculty and staff can take on community service projects. But students also serve the Jackson area on a daily basis.
“I want to thank everyone involved in making the selection for the 2013 Humanitarian of the Year,” Dockery said. “It is certainly a most significant honor and I want to dedicate this award to the faculty, staff, and students of Union University.”
The Jackson area Red Cross chapter worked closely with Dockery to provide relief services on Union’s campus in February 2008, when an EF-4 tornado caused more than $40 million in damage to the campus and seriously injured several students.
After receiving the award, Dockery gave an address to a room filled with community leaders.
“My goal is to encourage us to be out there and serve and give back to the community that has given so much to us,” Dockery said.
The Red Cross sets a counter-cultural example of service that other leaders should follow, he said. Since the days of the its founder, nurse Clara Barton, the Red Cross has been dedicated to making communities better and responding in times of disaster, Dockery said.
Referring to Boston University professor Peter L. Berger’s writings, he said privatization is a growing trend in current American culture.
“Privatization is, in many ways, the hallmark (of today’s society),” Dockery said. “It focuses on the individual, on personal rights.”
In opposition to a self-focused culture, community leaders should promote the common good, that which is beneficial to many, he said.
“The Red Cross calls for us not to be alone; but to give of ourselves to others,” Dockery said.
The luncheon, hosted by St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Jackson, also featured two other award presentations. Madison County Deputy Jessica Thornton received the Hero of the Year award and David Brumley received the Red Cross Volunteer of the Year award.
By Samantha Adams (’13)