Tom and Joan's Community Service Award
Joan and Tom have won the hearts of many in this area for the years of unselfish service they have provided to the community.
According to someone who has known them for years, the Gramercy couple has coached the Gramercy Summer Swim Team since 1994. They have taught many of the children in this parish how to swim, how to compete, and how to have fun.
They have taught them swimming safety and have arranged for clinics on proper swim strokes and Red Cross safety. They encouraged all children to swim, no matter how good their swimming skills were.
That same person says that Joan and Tom also donated their time all year since 1995, when they also began coaching the Lutcher High Swim Team. This included swim practice 4 to 5 days a week, with competitions on Sundays.
In the fall, when it became too cold to practice in an outdoor pool, they accompanied the team on bus rides each night to L.S.U. in Baton Rouge to swim in an indoor heated pool. Even though both had demanding jobs, she with the hospital and he with the U. S. Customs Service, they traveled after work, four nights a week, leaving at 6:00 p.m. and not returning until after 9:00 p.m. each night.
During those long bus trips, they made themselves available to talk to or to give advice to the kids, if they asked for it. They spent a lot of time talking to the students about their educational goals, which college would they attend and what would they major in.
Under their leadership, the LHS Swim Team, with no pool of its own, won many honors, including the Boy's State Championship in Division III for six years in a row.
Many people in this area say Joan and Tom have been role models for our children. They say the community was lucky to have two people so willing to give so much of themselves.
Another person who knows the Murrays, said before Tom died last year from a tragic accident on his job as a Customs agent, protecting our shores, he had gained a reputation as a person who spoke out against social injustice.
Tom spoke out against racial bigotry and about issues such as having alcohol at graduation parties. He wrote letters to newspapers, defending the otherwise defenseless victims of injustice.
"His refrigerator was covered with pictures of children from other lands who were his financial beneficiaries. He cared deeply about the unfortunate and the marginalized and he demonstrated this depth in visits to shut-ins," said this supporter of Tom's.
That same person points out that Robert C. Bonner, Commissioner of U.S. Customs had this to say about Tom: "For as much as Tom contributed to the Customs Service, and the protection of our nation, I know that he will be remembered even more for what he gave his family and his community."
And a person who knows Joan said, "In everything she does, all of her years as a nurse and her dedication as a hospital administrator, her love for people comes shining through. That lady will surely go to heaven."
The David Reynaud Community Service Award is presented each year by The News Examiner to an outstanding community leader who has unselfishly given his/her time, talent and knowledge to the community. This is the first time it has been presented to a couple.
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