Community service comes with a lot of connotations. Some people consider it a chore or punishment for bad behavior. Other people consider it an act of giving back to a community that allowed them to prosper.
Cindy Myles Heller falls into the second category. For Heller, being nominated for Elma Citizen of the Year was an accomplishment on its own; let alone winning the award on Friday, April 29.
As Heller sat surrounded by her friends and family, she began to get teary eyed as the woman who nominated her, Lisa Sutherby, began to speak of Heller’s achievements within the community of Elma.
“She (Heller) would do all these fundraisers making sure the kids stayed busy. She went to all these sporting events, even if she didn’t have a child playing, taking pictures and making memories for all of us parents who couldn’t do that or be there,” Sutherby passionately said to the crowd. “She spends so much time helping all of our kids in this town and all of us appreciate so much for what she has done.”
Heller was also recognized for her assistance with Future Farmers of America, as well as helping secure grant money for community buildings for the city
As someone who is described as “selfless and devoted,” it only fit the bill that Heller accepted her award humbly and walked graciously back to her seat, as she eagerly waited for the next nominee to be awarded. When asked how she felt after winning the award, Heller paused for a couple seconds, and then expressed her gratitude and amazement.
“I’m not sure. I’m overwhelmed,” Heller said stunned. “I’m in shock because I just feel like I do what normal people do. I don’t feel like I go above and beyond, but I’m highly appreciative.”
Heller did mention she had a special spot for her award when she brought it home.
“It’s going right on my bookshelf.” Heller said cracking a smile.
Although Heller won the most prestigious award of the award of the night, others were being recognized for their achievements as well. The 2022 Elma Citizen of the Year ceremony was the first time the award program had occurred post-pandemic and as people filled up the decorated banquet room at Elma Eagles, the sense of community and comradery filled the air.
The attending Elma residents sat side by side conversing with members of the Chamber of Commerce, who hosted the event, as well as City Council members and Elma Mayor Jim Sorensen.
Guests were treated to a prime rib and prawn dinner that was cooked by members of the Eagles club, as well as a dessert auction alongside the award ceremony program. The dessert auction, which featured delectable treats, such as cinnamon rolls, brownies, and Eclairs among other things, raised $940 that is designed to be used for community events, as well as four new street signs in Elma.
The event featured five other award winners, who were “Long Term Distinguished Citizen” Rhonda Borden, “Youth Citizen of the Year” Taylor Sample, “Business of the Year” Cindy’s Plant Stand, “Elma School District Employee of the Year” Kathy Delano, and “Mayors Choice Posthumous Award” Jim Taylor, which was accepted by his widow Angie Taylor.