Volume 15, Number 50
Monday night Michael Johnson was named the 2017 winner of the Peggy Allen Award, Mandy Duguid was named Citizen of the Year and the Wake Forest Optimist Club was named the Organization of the Year.
The awards were made by Mayor Vivian Jones during the 70th annual Community Christmas Dinner at The Forks Cafeteria with 285 people attending.
Earlier Jill Bright, the emcee and dinner committee co-chair, recognized the two women who have attended all but one of the dinners since it began in 1947 to show the area’s gratitude for the returning World War II veterans. Longtime friends and neighbors Nora Dickens and Shirley Wooten were both ill last year and could not attend, breaking their record. There was standing applause for the two.
The Peggy Allen Lifetime Achievement Award, established by the Allen family after Peggy’s death in 2004, honors those people who have a record of service to the community. Johnson was the founder of Hoops for Wake Forest which raised $180,000 for local charities over 14 years, the founder of the Wake Forest Purple Heart Foundation and helped found the Purple Heart Foundation of North Carolina and is currently its chairman, and most recently helped establish the Classic Car Show which donates its proceeds to local charities. In 2009 he was named Wake Forest Citizen of the Year.
“I really do appreciate this,” Johnson said. He remembered getting a call from Peggy, saying she was coming to his office. When she arrived, “She told me I was going to organize the Special Olympics” for Wake Forest. He then asked all the volunteers who helped with the Purple Heart dinner and foundation, the car show and the newest project, the monthly flag-raising at town hall honoring deceased veterans, to stand. “Thank you,” Johnson said. “You made it all possible. You deserve this.
Duguid, the mayor said, started by providing food as a ministry at her church and then went on to become a member of the board for the Purple Heart Foundation and has taken over the responsibility of planning the annual dinner. She sends the invitations, arranges the seating and keeping up with the recipients. She prepares and serves breakfast each year for the recipients who ride in the Wake Forest Christmas Parade. Duguid is also on the committee which arranges the community dinner.
“Wow!” Duguid said. “I am truly honored. I am truly humbled. Thank you.”
The Wake Forest Optimist Club, Jones said in her introduction before naming the winner of the Organization of the Year, is a small group with a big heart. “Their most significant contributions to our community are for the children of Wake Forest.” They help each year with the police department’s Shop with a Cop, serving food to the officers and children and go shopping with them to help. The club received a $2,000 grant from Sam’s Club and members use the money to create comfort kits for children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. Club members also work with teens through the Optimist International Club at Wake Forest High School. The club has received this recognition twice before, in 1984 and 1986.
Ed Morris, the past president of the Wake Forest Community Council, explained how people and groups are nominated and chosen for the three awards. Any town or area resident can nominate a person or a group for the awards, and the nomination process and forms are advertised beginning in September. The council president collects the nominations early in November and sends the scanned forms to all eligible members of the council. Area groups send representatives to the council’s meetings; members have to pay their $10 dues in the spring to be eligible to vote on the nominations. The results of the secret ballots are tabulated by the president and his committee and announced only at the dinner.