By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – For many people, 15 trips to deliver medical services, supplies, schoolbooks and Bibles to people in Ghana and Swaziland would constitute a superb lifetime’s service.
Not for Hollis Crowder. He is organizing the first mission trip of his church, St. Peter’s Episcopal, to Africa this August to do more of that same work.
Crowder was named the Lafayette-Oxford-University 2010 Citizen of the Year at Thursday night’s annual banquet of the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation at the Oxford Conference Center. Unlike many past honorees, he has made his mark on the city and county in an exceedingly short time.
“When this year’s honoree retired and moved to Oxford in 2007 from California, he hit the ground running,” said Randy Leister, the new Chamber board chairman.
Overseas service is only a small part of this man’s contribution, however. He’s also the St. Peter’s representative to Interfaith Compassion Ministry and serves in multiple capacities at the Food Pantry – at both of which he is able to use the counseling skills he honed with a master’s degree and a career with the Veterans Administration.
Crowder is active in the Skipwith Historical and Genealogical Society, drives veterans to medical appointments, was the first black president of Kiwanis in Oxford and regularly presents bicycles to Oxford School’s “Most Improved Reader.”
“Is there a better role model for good citizenship and volunteerism?” Leister asked.
The evening ended with a presentation by Sam Haskell, former executive vice president and worldwide head of television for the William Morris Agency, featuring his recent book, “Promises I Made My Mother.”
The Amory native, who now lives in Oxford with his wife, Mary Donnelly Haskell, started with the familiar story of “Stone Soup.” In it, a creative man persuades hoarding villagers to share their meager food with each other, providing all a feast in the process.
Haskell noted the response of Mississippians after Hurricane Katrina as an example of that spirit.
“The levees broke in New Orleans, and that’s a shame, but the hurricane hit Mississippi,” he said. “Who took care of her own? Mississippi.
“My challenge to you is to serve up a stone soup every day,” Haskell said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.