By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – V.M. Cleveland is recognized mostly as the chairman and CEO of the Tupelo Furniture Market.
But his public service and volunteer work are being recognized nationwide this week.
Cleveland is among 106 recipients of the Jefferson Award, which will be given this week at a special ceremony this week in Washington, D.C.
The Jefferson Awards are regarded as one of the nation’s highest honors for community service and volunteerism.
Cleveland was nominated by television stations WTVA, WLOV and WKDH.
“To be honest, I had no idea I was even nominated for this prestigious honor,” Cleveland said.
Among Cleveland’s most-heralded deeds is his commitment to The Salvation Army and Sanctuary Hospice House in allowing them to use the furniture market and its resources for their annual fundraisers free of charge.
“There are hundreds of organizations that are worthy, and we do what we can, but we don’t go out and publicize it,” he said. “Everybody knows I prefer staying behind the scenes and don’t really want the recognition.”
Cleveland said the furniture market, which is used year-round for other trade shows and community events, is a tool he’s happy to provide for charitable organizations whenever possible.
“Tupelo has been good to me, and I want to do what I can to give back,” he said.
Cleveland will represent the state during a star-studded gathering for this week’s 40th annual Jefferson Awards ceremony.
This year’s national honorees include CIA Director David H. Petreaus, for his long and distinguished career; Harry Connick Jr., and Branford Marsalis for their work to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; Richard Proudfit, founder of Kids Against Hunger; and Amber Lynn Coffman, who founded Happy Helpers for the Homeless to help Baltimore’s disadvantaged population when she was just 10 years old.