A Motto To Live By

John D. Hamilton lived by a motto after listening to William Jennings Bryan speak.

“What a person is worth is what he gives back to the society into which he is born.”

That motto as read by Randy Sweeney, executive director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, seemed to fit the occasion in presenting Jeanette J. Carlson the 2014 John D. Hamilton Community Service Award at Moon Brook Country Club Thursday evening. The award is given annually to an individual who has shown support and dedication in the community – enriching life in Chautauqua County.

A resident of Jamestown for her whole life, Carlson had her first experience helping people as a sixth-grader in 1949. Soldiers who served in World War II were in veterans hospitals at the time. Her teacher decided to have the students pack shoeboxes with toothbrushes, toothpaste and other personal items – along with candy – and sent to the hospital in Buffalo. Over a matter of weeks, her teacher began to send seven students at a time up to the third floor where the veterans were located. Her teacher put Carlson in charge and she worked hard filling boxes and preparing them for shipment.

“I never forgot how good it felt to do something for others,” Carlson said. “It carried over to later years when I felt that community service is so important not only for the community, but for me. I would walk down the streets of downtown Jamestown and see the ice arena, the train station, the Robert. H Jackson Center and see announcements of grants being awarded to several non profits. I’m thrilled and appreciative of the many people who have been working hard to see all these things through.”

Carlson went on to graduate from Jamestown High School and Jamestown Community College. She served on the board of directors at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Robert H. Jackson Center, CODE Inc., Jamestown Kiwanis Wives Club and the Eastside YMCA.

She also spent 22 years with the First Presbyterian Church and was recognized as the United Way’s Volunteer of the Year in 2002 for her work with children at the Eastside YMCA.

Carlson, who is the youngest of eight children, took a look around at all of her family and friends in attendance Thursday along with the others who she met along her journey. From her husband, Gordon and oldest son, Gordon Jr., to the people who served on various Boards of Directors with her, Carlson remarked the award presentation to be “some evening.”

“So many of you represent aspects of my life that I treasure,” Carlson said. “I have a lot of good role models. It really makes for a memorable evening.”

Carlson currently is involved on the Edgewood Communities campus as she serves on the Social Committee, planning ongoing events at the campus.

Carlson likes to see the younger generations getting involved with the community, and she hopes that trend continues throughout the county and city. She also said she is pleased to see where the Community Foundation is at today and where it’s heading in the future.

“We have such trust in what they’re doing,” Carlson said. “If it wasn’t for the foundation, where would we be? We are blessed in this community to have the Community Foundation.”

Before Carlson received her award from Pamela Noll, president of the Community Foundation Board of Directors, several officials took to the microphone to commend and congratulate her. Attendees included Jacqueline Chiarot representing Congressman Tom Reed; Lori Cornell, regional representative for Gov. Andrew Cuomo; state Sen. Cathy Young, R-C-I-Olean; Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-I-Jamestown; County Executive Vince Horrigan; and Mayor Sam Teresi. Carlson received several recognitions from the speakers for her dedicated work in the community for numerous years.

“This award is presented in admiration in honor of the many facets of life and accomplishments of Carlson,” Sweeney said.