CHAMPLAIN - The commitment of three men to their communities has been recognized.
Woodmen of the World Lodge 462 presented awards recently to three local men for "the outstanding contributions that they give to the community" that go "above and beyond," said lodge president Todd Castine.
John Paul Tetrault of Champlain was named Citizen of the Year, the highest recognition during an April 1 ceremony at the Champlain Knights of Columbus Hall.
According to Castine, Tetrault was nominated for the award by the selection committee for his relentless efforts helping those in the community during their time of need.
"John Paul prepares, coordinates and even sometimes assists in cooking meals for people who have lost a loved one, and he does this above and beyond what he does as a member of the Knights of Columbus," Castine said. "He's spent a lot of time doing that, getting up in the morning or any time of the day a meal is needed for folks."
"He's been doing it for years and sometimes the money comes out of his own pocket," added Castine. "He's just a very, very nice man. And he does all this day in, day out."
Tetrault said he has enjoyed cooking meals for people since he officially retired from farming nearly 15 years ago, when he turned over his business, Hidden View Farm, to his sons.
"I thought I'd do something else, so one day a friend asked me if I could prepare a meal in memory of his wife and I said sure," recalled Tetrault, who remembers enlisting the help of his wife to do so.
Since then, he's continued preparing meals for similar circumstances and helping with various functions at St. Mary's Church, the American Legion and, of course, the Knights of Columbus.
"He even prepared the meal that was partly in his honor," said Castine.
"It's something I enjoy," said Tetrault. "If anybody needs something I do what I can. Helping somebody makes me feel good."
Bob Cheeseman of Chazy was recognized with the Community Helper Award, which also recognizes service to the community in a variety of ways, explained Castine.
Cheeseman was recognized for volunteering with literacy programs at Chazy Central Rural School, raising money for pediatric brain cancer research, and helping various other organizations like the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Clinton County, North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross, Journey Into Reading and Mended Hearts, a group that offers support to people with heart disease, their families and caregivers.
"Overall, he's a guy who's just there in a variety of ways," Castine said of Cheeseman.
However, Cheeseman, who also volunteers as historian for the town of Chazy, shrugged off his list of contributions.
"It doesn't seem like I should have it," Cheeseman said of the award. "I don't think I do enough, but apparently they did. I just enjoy working with people and I enjoy helping kids. I think I get more out of it than they do."
"I was very pleased and honored," he added of receiving the award. "I just can't sit down, because if I did, I'd never get back up."
Eric LaValley, assistant chief of the Ellenburg Depot Volunteer Fire Department, was recognized with the lodge's Life Saver Award for his actions during a flood last August which tore through the towns of Ellenburg and Altona. During the event, LaValley was one of several firefighters who worked to rescue a group of people trapped on the south side of the Chazy River bank. When one of the women trapped reached for a rescue rope and was unable to hold on, LaValley jumped into the river and rescued her.
The nine-year fire department veteran's actions that day were the furthest thing from his mind when he learned he was getting the Life Save Award.
"I was surprised, very surprised," LaValley said humbly of the recognition. "I appreciated it, but there were a lot of other people that, without their help, my efforts wouldn't have been successful."
Despite the modesty of each award recipient, Castine said those who nominated the three did so with good reason.
"The thing we try to strive for when giving these awards is finding people who give back to the community," explained Castine, "and these three demonstrated through their efforts, some time and time again, you do what's right."