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A 649-word letter of thanks to each of you

You may not believe this, but last Thursday night at the Chamber of Commerce banquet when my name was announced as this year’s Citizen of the Year, I was speechless. I think the first words out of my mouth were – “Thank you very much, but someone else is going to have to write this story.”
I am not from here, but for the past four and a half years I have felt more at home here than any  other place in my life – and that is because of each one of you.
I love this community and the people in it that make it so special. I love my job because each and every week I get to put your faces and tell your stories on the pages of your community newspaper.
This is such a special honor and I feel very privileged to have been chosen.
I have found over the years the rewards of getting involved are many and go far beyond the good feeling you get from helping others.
The benefits can be kind of a mutual assistance, like making new friends, being part of a team, learning about your community and even developing new skills. So I hope by receiving this honor it has helped others see their own potential in the many things they can participate in and enjoy the benefits of volunteering and being a part of the team.
Because of the friendships made and generosities extended here in Seminole County, I am a very happy guy.
There is not enough space in this paper for me to list the names of the people who have befriended me, accepted me into the community and included me in their lives. Because of your gift of friendship, I am humbled. I am thankful, and most of all, I am truly blessed. God has a plan and I am so very happy to be an active participant in the plan He has for me. This community is filled with some of the friendliest people that I have ever had the opportunity to meet, and each and every day, I meet another person and find another reason to express that statement even louder.
The other night after the chamber banquet I took my dog Maggie for a walk downtown.  All the shops were closed and there were no cars on the street. At that particular moment Maggie and I were completely alone in the middle of downtown Donalsonville.  
Under a starlit sky I had an It’s a wonderful life feeling. The streets, illuminated with light from the street lamps, looked like one of those inviting images on a picturesque postcard. I walked by each shop, gazed in the store windows and thought about all of the people who work in these shops and walk down these streets. At that particular moment Maggie and I were completely alone; however, I did not feel alone at all.
I thought about all the smiling faces I had just seen at the chamber dinner and the happy faces enjoying last month’s Mardi Gras celebration on the street in which I was now standing. I thought about the people that I see and talk to every day in my adventures in and around Donalsonville and Seminole County.
 I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace because, even though, except for Maggie, I was absolutely alone, I was standing in the middle of a street in the center of a community filled with people whom I am so proud to call friends. I felt very much at home.
Thank you for your friendship, and rest assured, I will work very hard each and every day to keep it.
The sky is the limit to what we in this community can accomplish when we are working together to achieve it. Our best is yet to come. Thank you once again for this tremendous honor.

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