Gonzales Chamber of Commerce honored Ken Hedrick as the David B. Walshak Community Service Award recipient at the 89th Annual Gonzales Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture banquet held Friday at the Hermann Sons Hall.
Chamber of Commerce President John Raeke presented Community Service Awards to three recipients including Bob Burchard, Suzanne Benes and Sandra Wolff to begin the award ceremony.
Burchard was awarded for his work in historic preservation in many areas of Gonzales County, including volunteering as chairman of the Gonzales Co. Historical Commission and his work toward renovation and restoration of the Old Jail Museum. Also for the countless people he and his cast of ‘Gonzales: The Beginning’ have educated about the history of the Green DeWitt Colony and the beginning of the war for Texas independence.
Benes was recognized for her volunteer work within the community, including her many years of chairing the arts and crafts division of the Come & Take It Association, which includes marking off of booths and policing the area during the festival, settling arguments, solving problems, collecting money and answering questions. It’s a huge job and one that she does very well.
Wolff was awarded for keeping Gonzales History alive for the children of Texas during her years as Pioneer Village Living History Museum Director. She had a dream and worked for many years in developing it and showing school children of Texas how their ancestors lived in the 1800s and early 1900s.
The special honor of the evening was presented by past president Carlos Camarillo. That special presentation of the David B. Walshak Lifetime Achievement Award went to Hedrick for his contributions to the community. He dedicated most of his adult life to serving various causes he’s vitally interested in, including his time he devotes to the youth of Gonzales County and most of people in the area have never realized the personal dedication involved.
Hedrick has been an Apache Booster, Rescue and Recovery team member, Regional Emergency Communications Committee for Golden Crescent, on the Vocational Advisory Council, Gonzales Livestock Board, Noon Lions Club, Pilot Club, PTA member, Chamber Director, Young Farmers member and County Mental Retardation Association director. His service in the county includes about 20 positions with various boards and organizations.
His work with youth includes fundraising, shearing sheep and holding showmanship clinics, organizing and conducting wildlife events for area youth, all-night security for Project Graduation; barbecuing for Apache Boosters, Bluebonnet Youth Ranch and Young Farmers.
Several of the organizations he has served during past years wrote letters of appreciation and support for the award recipient and the nomination was a work of art in itself.
More volunteer work Hedrick has done includes:
• A member of the Young Farmers for 31 years, serving several terms as treasurer
• Volunteered with the Young Farmers and has prepared 200 to 400 plates, 1,200 hamburgers for wounded soldiers and their families, along with 3,000 plates for the Fisher House anniversary. Has a room at the house named for the chapter. This is done three or four times each year.
• GISD Vocational Advisory Council member 16 years
• Livestock Show Association board member
• Gonzales Youth Center – 15 years, cooking 600 to 700 bbq plates twice yearly since 1997
• Apache Booster Club
• Pilot Club Project Graduation – This will be the 10th year, providing priceless comfort for members, volunteers and parents who count on safety at the all-night graduation party.
• South Texas Regional Blood and Tissue Center – 200+ gallon blood donor
• Pilot Club Member
• Robert A. Kubena Regional Citizenship Award for Outstanding Community Service above and beyond the call of duty in the seven-county regional area.
To quote from a letter received from a private citizen, “For the past 30 years, this volunteer has done what he does best – serve others.”
He has donated innumerable hours to raise thousands of dollars; many local charities (and area ones) have benefited from his generosity, but few Gonzaleans realize the extent of his personal dedication. He quietly gathers friends and information, never bragging or boasting; a genuinely nice person, making his corner of the world a better place for all.
A special honor just received is he and Jo Ann being named the Young Farmer Family of the Year.
The highlight of the evening was guest speaker Lizzie Velasquez with an inspiring take on her life and her perseverance as a 21-year old college student with a rare disorder that does not allow her to gain weight.
Her upbeat and inspiring speech had everyone’s attention and her words filled the hearts of all in attendance.
Retiring Directors honored were Liz Blackwell, Jeff Braune, Carlos Camarillo, Sherry Hill and Roy Maldonado.