During its annual awards ceremony at the Clinton Inn, The Pilot Club of Laurinburg took time out to recognize the hard work and leadership of its members.
The Pilots also recognized the life’s work of dedicated community servant, the late Dr. O. Eugene Smith, with the “Community Service Award.”
Receiving the Pilot Club’s “Pilot of the Year” honor was club president Leslie McLaughlin.
Presenting that award was president-elect Pam Ashley, who lauded McLaughlin for being “very active in all club projects and fundraisers every year.”
“She has a wonderful sense of humor, is a great leader, and is an all out team player,” said Ashley.
McLaughlin received the award with a smile, thanking the nearly-100 in attendance for their ongoing dedication to the club’s service efforts.
Also presented at the meeting was the “Pilot Club Leadership Award,” given to Linda Troutman.
“She is pure dynamite,” said fellow Pilot Club member Sylvia Stewart prior to presenting Troutman the plaque.
Stewart praised Troutman for her work in the club’s projects over the past decade, including the “Brain Minders” program, and for her work with costumes and props.
“She is truly a gift to our club with her leadership skills,” added Stewart.
Prior to the awards ceremony representatives of the North Laurinburg School’s special education department gave a multimedia presentation updating the club on how their “Adopt a Classroom” funds had been put to good use.
“We love to see how our money is used, and seeing that makes us always want to give more next year,” said Pilot’s Rebecca Brooks.
The Pilot Club has chosen brain disorders as its area of focus, and gives annually to help the autistic students of North Laurinburg School.
In honoring the late Smith, the Pilot Club’s Jenny Tippett recounted a number of the good deeds to Smith’s credit, including the writing of the grant proposal for the Scotland County Partnership for Children (Smart Start) in 1998.
Smith, said Tippett, remained active on the Smart Start board until his death.
“He also volunteered with Hospice of Scotland County, Richmond Community College and Operation Christmas Child,” noted Tippett.
Tippett, who first met Smith as a student at St. Andrews University, said that as a student she “knew Dr. Smith and always thought he was an extremely energetic and nice man.”
“Little did I know how energetic and nice he was,” said Tippett.
“It wasn’t until I was asked to be on the Board of Directors of the Scotland County Partnership for Children that I really began to know him … (and) began to see what a great man he truly was.”
“He loved children and wanted to make sure that every child had an opportunity to learn and grow,” Tippett added.
Tippett continued by highlighting the ways that Smith’s service and lifestyle correlated with the Pilot Club’s code of ethics.
“Parts of the code … that I feel particularly refer to (Smith) are: ‘Never omitting an opportunity of doing a kindness or making a friend … to work each day at that which is before us seriously, vigorously, calmly, cheerily, to improve ourselves in every possible way; to increase our efficiency; to enlarge our visions,” said Tippett, who mentioned several other virtues taken to heart by Smith.
“Gene Smith was truly one of the most caring and giving humans I ever had the privilege of knowing. I wish I had known him better,” Tippett said.
The entire evening was preceded by a dinner, and concluded with a recitation of the club’s code of ethics.