PALMETTO — As she has done many times as a Manatee County commissioner, the normally quiet Gwendolyn Brown drew immediate and rapt attention when she spoke.
This time it wasn’t a commission chamber that was lit up by her warning voice about a community issue.
This time Brown had stepped to the pulpit in The House of God Church in Palmetto on a recent Sunday, where she delivered a warning about selfishness and isolationism.
“If our intent is heaven-bound, we must care about other folks,” Brown said before a packed church attending the annual Community Honors Program on Oct. 18.
She wasn’t through.
“If our intent is heaven-bound, we must give of ourselves freely to others and care about their children,” Brown said.
“And if our intent is heaven-bound, we must pray for others.”
There were at least eight people in church that Sunday who apparently are already living that advice.
The eight were House of God’s 2009 Community Honors Program award winners, selected for their unsung service to the community.
All were unaware they would be singled out for their good deeds in the community, including such things as driving people to doctor’s appointments and to the grocery store, looking in on home-bound people and helping people whenever they can.
Simple things, to be sure. But how many of us take the time to give to others even a few minutes out of our days, said Brown and the speakers who followed her.
Giving freely of themselves is what 2009 award winners Kim and Cory Brinson, Shirley A. Franklin, Grant Daniels, Rosa B. Smith, Annie Ola Gore, Jo Ann Spencer and Isaiah Dawsey do on a regular basis, Brown said.
Others who spoke that day echoed the importance of doing things, however simple, for others.
“I long for the old days when people were real,” said Bishop Raymond D. Trice, Sr., senior pastor and Bishop of True Deliverance Fellowship Center in Bradenton.
“The hands that help others are anointed hands,” said assistant school superintendent Lynette Edwards in a powerful voice that had a preacher’s confidence.
Edwards told the audience that having faith that small works will please God will yield big rewards for those who perform these deeds.
“By faith, Noah built an ark and people passed through the Red Sea,” Edwards said. “If we all keep the faith, our world will change for the better.”
Award winner Cory Brinson is the founder and co-pastor of the S.H.O.P. Ministries in Palmetto.
Brinson is the husband of Prophetess and award winner Kim Brinson, who is also co-pastor of S.H.O.P. Ministries.
Franklin, a retired teacher assistant from the Manatee County School District and a member of Mount Raymond Full Gospel Baptist Church, spends much of her day taking people to the doctor, shopping or other places they need to go, said Mary Tillis, House of God Deaconess and Community Honors Program chairperson.
Daniels, a member of Pastor Joe Green’s ministry in Sarasota, is known as a peace-maker and is often called upon, like King Solomon, to solve other people’s problems, Tillis said.
Smith, a member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, gives service and financial assistance to others without a second thought, Tillis said.
Of Gore, Tillis said, “This honoree from New Birth Ministry in Bradenton provides spiritual counseling to fellow Christians and to people walking in darkness.”
Spencer, a member of Saint Stephens AME Church, gives service to any other church in the area that needs her, Tillis said.
Dawsey, who worked for Tropicana for 38 years, was the final honoree.
“This honoree loves people and enjoys helping them,” said Tillis, whose statement on Dawsey seemed to sum up the day.