WASHINGTON – After being married for only a few weeks,Carolyn Pence realized what a generous man she was with.
The young couple had been living in an apartment in Texas when the plumbing for the entire complex became clogged,and Stan Pence came to the rescue,trying to fix the plumbing problem himself.
That’s the kind of generosity and community spirit that earned Pence recognition as one of 75 recipients of Jefferson Award,given by the American Institute for Public Service. Pence,70,was among those honored Tuesday at the 33rd annual Jefferson Awards National Ceremony.
The awards honor individuals who have contributed to their communities through public and community service.
When Pence found out in July that he had been nominated,he said he was “amazed” and had “no inkling that it was coming.”
Pence,a retired electrical engineer,was accompanied to Washington by his wife,daughter and son.
“It's wonderful having everyone here together. This is very special,” Carolyn Pence said.
In Corpus Christi,Pence has volunteered at Montclair Elementary School,tutoring fifth-graders in reading. He also works as a Boy Scout leader,guiding many boys to the rank of Eagle Scout and traveling with scouts to Australia,New Zealand and Chile. Pence said he has had the pleasure of watching many of them graduate from college and keeps in touch with many of them.
Pence became motivated to work with Boy Scouts at a young age. When he was a boy, his family didn't have enough money for him to continue and he had to drop out. When his son was a boy,Pence wanted to help the Boy Scouts again,and he continued to work with them even after his son was grown,he said.
After listening to stories of other award recipients,Pence said he was inspired by their work and was happy that there was such a high level of involvement.
“It makes you wonder why you don't do more,” Pence said.
Five of the 75 finalists received the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis awards and were recognized at a formal dinner Tuesday evening: Police Officers Billy Bolin and Paul Kirby,Evansville,Ind.,who collected money and volunteers to build a playground; Coke Hallowell,Fresno,Calif.,who contributed a ranch for a nature preserve; Corwin Marbly,Chicago,who worked to improve neighborhood conditions; Rosie Leeta Abrams,Dallas,who founded a youth program; and Marcelle Citron,Lafayette,La.,who provides food and prescription drugs to needy people.
The national Jefferson Award winners are Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton for their work leading the national Sept. 11 commission; Vartan Gregorian,president of the Carnegie Corp.,for his work in education; Dave Pelzer,for his work in child abuse prevention; and Ben Shuldiner,for creating a charter school in New York that requires students to perform public service.