A Hero For All Ages

Surrounded by family and friends, Bethany Durow of Randolph was awarded the 2014 Axel W. Carlson “Unsung Hero” Award Thursday night at Heritage Village Retirement Community.

A senior at Randolph High School, Durow has been volunteering at Heritage since she was 10 years old. “I got involved with Heritage by shadowing my mom and doing volunteer work together,” Durow said.

During her time at Heritage, Durow has cleaned for residents, taken care of their pets, organized events on campus, taken non-mobile residents for walks to visit friends and read to the sight impaired. She also started a music enrichment program on campus, playing music from various decades and encouraging residents to participate.

According to Shirley Reynolds, one of the residents Durow reads to on a regular basis and the one who nominated her for this award, Durow has enriched the lives of many seniors living in the Heritage community.

“I have always loved reading, and when I lost my sight, I was saddened by the fact that I would be unable to enjoy the plot of a good book or see nature’s changing seasons anymore,” Reynolds wrote in her nomination form. “Bethany has not only given me back my love of reading, but she explains all that is going (on) around me so that it feels that I am able to experience life, with sight, through her again.”

In addition to her work at Heritage, Durow volunteers in her school and community by participating in food drives, American Red Cross blood drives, local children’s camps, and tutoring and mentoring services.

Durow credits growing up in a smaller town with a tight-knit community as helping her further understand and appreciate the importance of service, compassion and friendship.

“Volunteering is important because not only are you helping someone else, but you are helping yourself,” Durow said. “It helps to build character and lets you get to know many different people, all of whom have very different stories and lessons to share.”

As Durow prepares to graduate, with honors, from Randolph High School in June, she plans to continue volunteering as she studies Biology/Pre-Med at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Ga., this fall.

“When you volunteer you are taking a little bit of time in your schedule and setting it aside to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Since 1986, the Community Foundation has awarded an individual, or group, the title “Unsung Hero” in honor of Axel W. Carlson, a Swedish immigrant who believed in helping others without reward or recognition. Upon his death, Carlson allocated a portion of his estate to the Community Foundation to establish The Axel W. Carlson Memorial Fund, which supports this award.