Jerry Riggins is the kind of person who like to stay behind the scenes.
But this week, he was front and center at the Laurinburg Optimist Club annual banquet.
Riggins was named 2011-2012 Optimist of the Year for his work at Optimist’s baseball games and fund raisers.
“He does a lot for this club that you probably don’t see: scoreboards, electrical work, housing food for us when we need to house it in a cooler,” said Jamie Sutherland, 2009-2010 Optimist of the Year. “You see all of us at the park, but it’s people like Jerry that make this club run and run efficiently and run better than most clubs around.”
The club also recognized several other members for their outstanding service. Wayne Hobbs, a 38-year club member, was this year’s recipient of the Eagle Award, presented by Bill Riggins and N.W. Quick. The Eagle Award, established in 2005, is given annually to a longtime club member with a history of distinguished service. Hobbs is also a past lieutenant governor of the N.C. East District of the Optimist Club.
“Scotland County has been very good to me, the Optimist Club has been very good to me; I’ve always tried to give a little bit back,” Hobbs said.
Sunbeam Sutherland was also recognized with a life membership.
The Laurinburg Optimist Club also used Monday’s dinner to install its 2012-2013 officers.
Outgoing President Richard Massey passed the gavel to 2012-2013 President Scott Sellers with a few words of gratitude for those who supported him and the club during the past year.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d actually be president of the Optimist Club,” said Massey. “Even two years ago I didn’t think I’d be president of the Optimist Club, but it has been an honor and a privilege to represent this group of people and what they do in Scotland County. It has been a humbling experience; I hope I represented you well this year… It’s amazing the number of people who step up and do stuff for this club: baseball committee, fish fry, Christmas tree, it all gets done.”
Sellers, a club member since 2008, played Optimist baseball in his own school years, when the field was located behind Scotland Inn. In a time of apparently dwindling opportunity, he looked forward to passing on a bit of his own youth to future generations.
“There are a lot of things that this club has done. It’s touched lives and the beautiful thing is that now I’m able to give that back to my children,” said Sellers. “Sadly, it took me 36 years to realize how important public service is and to give back to our community, but at no time more than the present our community needs it. It’s important, I think everybody knows how our community is struggling at the moment, but do know that the time and the effort that we put in will make memories for the youth who are out there at the ball park these days.”
Donald Barringer, current N.C. East District lieutenant governor and member of the Laurinburg Optimist Club, encouraged the assembled Optimists to press on in their mission.
“Never in history has the active participation of informed citizens been so necessary to a form of government, a way of life, progress, or even our very existence,” said Barringer. “There is a growing need of vigorous action by people through the teamwork of Optimist Clubs. We may not always agree to what is planned and what occurs, but we must face forward.”
Other officers installed included President-Elect Scott Cole, Internal Vice President Randy Johnson, External Vice President Ron Riggins, Secretary Bear Hughes, Treasurer John Ridge, 1 Year Directors Brooks Baines, Jeff Maidment, and Bill Carmichael, and 2 Year Directors Wayne Sparkman, Gene Hall, and Randy McCall.
The club was founded in 1961 and currently numbers some 75 members.