Debra Chester was recently recognized by the Archibald Bulloch Chapter of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution for her extensive volunteer work with the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market.
She was given the Community Service Award during the annual Georgia Day luncheon, held Feb. 19 in the Perry Fellowship Hall of First Baptist Church Statesboro.
Perhaps the most notable fact about this award is that Chester is the first recipient of it in 12 years.
The previous winners were:
- Emma Kelly in 2000,
- Kemp Mabry in 2001,
- Smith Banks in 2002; and
- Delma Presley in 2003.
"The purpose of the Community Service Awards is to recognize worthy individuals for unpaid voluntary achievements in cultural, educational, humanitarian, patriotic, historical, citizenship, or environmental conservation endeavors," according to a statement provided by the local DAR. "The recipient must have contributed to the community in an outstanding manner through voluntary heroic, civic or benevolent service, or by organizing or participating in community activities. The achievement must have taken place within the past five years. Members of NSDAR are eligible for this award if the service is unrelated to their DAR activities. A chapter may present only two Community Service Awards per NSDAR year (Jan. 1 through Dec. 31)."
While this award is not a contest, it must be proposed by a chapter, approved at the state level, and issued by the National Society. The proposal packet must include the recommendation form, two letters of recommendation, a letter from the chapter with a detailed description of the service, newspaper articles showing dateline and title of publication, and Internet documentation showing web address and date retrieved.
The Archibald Bulloch chapter had not proposed anyone for the award since 2003. But with National Society DAR President General Lynn Forney Young's emphasis on service, the local chapter thought it would be a good time to resume recognizing local community volunteers.
So why Chester?
"It was easy to select Debra Chester for this year's award," the local DAR's statement says. "She is a well-known community volunteer at every level - civic, church and university. That she has spearheaded and continues to lead the Farmers Market as an unpaid director is outstanding and a testament to her servant's heart."
One of the requirements of the application process is to secure recommendations from the community and support it with published information about the person. That was no problem, as recommendations came "freely and beautifully," the DAR said. The printed documentation, however, was a problem because Chester does not promote herself.
The Archibald Bulloch chapter was able to use a Statesboro Herald article that appeared in the Nov. 25 Business Tuesday section about the Farmers Market, and Chester was an important source for the information. More importantly for the DAR award's purpose, the article contained "the statement that she functions as a volunteer," the DAR said.
"That completed our package," the DAR statement says. "Our state chairman called the day she received our application stating that she had approved it and forwarded it to National. That was an extremely fast approval process.
"The problem then became how to get Debra to our meeting without telling her that she would be honored," the statement continues. "We asked her to secure donations from the Farmer's Market vendors for our baskets that would be raffled at the meeting and to say a few words about the market. She was totally surprised."