Today our Club presented Mr. Larry Hicks of HopeTree Family Services its “Service Above Self” Award for 2016. The award is given to a non-Rotarian in a non-management position in recognition of their exceptional service reflecting the core values of Rotary.
The Vocational Award/Awareness – Service Above Self Committee Carl B. Hart opened our program and introduced the first of family and co-workers who told of their love and professional respect for Larry Hicks. Our own Dee King and President Tommy shared their experiences and admiration along with Dr. Stephen W. Richerson President & Executive Director of HopeTree Family Services.
Growing up in Salem’s Virginia Baptist Children’s Home and graduating from its legendary Andrew Lewis High School served as a great preparation for Larry Hicks. On June 2, 2016, Larry will celebrate his 41st year as Recreation Director of “The Home” (now called HopeTree Family Services). After receiving his college degree from Radford University in Recreation Administration, Larry embarked on his mission of compassionate fun by providing comprehensive recreation activities for the at-risk male and female youth in residence at HopeTree Family Services.
Throughout the years, Larry has been a model child care provider. He has always extended his loving, Christian values to every resident. He has the gift of experience in understanding and reacting to these troubled youth in ways that communicate care and respect; all the while expecting them to cope and do their best while living away from their natural families. Larry is an exception to the rule. Most child care providers burn out in less than 5 years from giving themselves professionally and personally to the complex and often challenging youth served by agencies like HopeTree. It is obvious Larry loves providing recreation and community activities for HopeTree residents, and they greatly benefit from these activities thanks to Larry’s influence and care.
Larry has also been a very influential ambassador from HopeTree Family Services to the Salem community. Not only does he maintain and periodically upgrade HopeTree’s many recreation facilities, he is the cooperative link which enables the Salem Recreation Department to hold hundreds of youth basketball and baseball games in HopeTree’s gymnasium and on its two baseball fields. Furthermore, Larry is always working with the area’s scouting program, churches, schools, and civic groups to conduct scout camps, camps for autistic children, fishing rodeos, and fellowship swim parties at HopeTree’s many recreation facilities.
It must be said that the ultimate love of Larry’s life is his wonderful wife, Kay, to whom he has been married for 41 years. Kay and Larry have two grown children, Derek and Jennifer. Now, Larry’s world revolves around his two grandchildren, Jackson (six years old) and Emily (four years old). Larry and Kay have been lifelong members of Melrose Baptist Church. Larry is the Sunday School Teacher of the Developmentally-Delayed Sunday School class of which several HopeTree Developmental Disabilities Ministry residents are members. Larry Hicks is the essence of “service above self”.