It was cold, and Betty Eidemiller was exhausted. The coordinator for the annual Herndon faith group-based Thanksgiving food drive in 2005 had been working for at least 12 hours that Saturday alongside her fellow volunteers to make sure that enough food was delivered to the hundreds of families who had come for assistance.
As the group started to clean up, Eidemiller realized that there still were the several shopping carts, donated for the event from local supermarkets that needed to be returned. It was then that Anthony "Ed" Foy, driving his pick-up truck, showed back up at Trinity Presbyterian Church, where the food drive was held.
"He had already been running things back and forth all day," Eidemiller, now president of Link, said. "And there he was, at the literal end of the day, working on all the last details and making sure those carts were returned."
Such instances of selfless volunteering led Eidemiller to nominate Foy for the Herndon volunteer distinguished service award, which he was awarded last weekend at the 23rd annual Mayor’s Volunteer Appreciation Night at the Herndon Community Center. The event, which saluted 341 local volunteers from 24 organizations, was the kick off to National Volunteer Week, taking place from April 15 to April 21.
"It’s one of those events that demonstrates Herndon’s hometown tradition," said Cindy Roeder, acting director of Herndon’s Parks and Recreation Department. "We have so many people who dedicate their time and their energy to their community and this is our chance to recognize those people."
Foy was honored alongside Herndon Police Citizen Support Team long-time volunteer Fred Kibler and non-profit renaissance man and council member Harlon Reece. The three were selected based on criteria including the number of hours worked and evaluated by a panel of community leaders. Foy was not present at the awards ceremony because of an injury, he said.
BEING FORMALLY singled out and recognized for volunteer service is a foreign experience to Foy and his fellow award recipients.
"I couldn’t believe that it happened to me, considering there are so many people that put an awful lot of time into doing this too," said Foy, a Sterling resident, in a phone interview. "These people who work with me and all the people there [at the awards ceremony], they deserve the recognition as much or more than I do."
Foy, an employee with the U.S. Geological Survey, has volunteered with Link, a non-profit built around a coalition of more than a dozen area churches to deliver food and emergency support for local families, for more than 25 years, he said. Eidemiller described him as one of the most integral components in keeping Link functioning and delivering food and care to families year-round.
"There are hundreds of people who just would not be able to eat if it were not for Ed Foy," she said.
It is a sense of duty based in his religious faith and desire to share his good fortune with others that has led him to continue to dedicate his time and effort over the years, Foy said.
"We just have so incredibly much around here, myself included, so I want to do things for other people," he said. "Every one of us has to live together in our community and doing things for that community it helps out everyone, not just the people who have needs but everyone living and working together we’re all part of this community together."
VOLUNTEER WORK, particularly in serving the community as a part of the Herndon Police Citizens Support Team has always been due to his personal passion for the work and getting the opportunity to see the community up close, Kibler said. He has been a member of the support team since 1982.
"It’s great when you’re out there and you’re on your bike and the little kid waves at you," he said. "The level of interaction with the community makes it so rewarding, knowing you’re there, making the community feel safer."
Kibler got a chance to show that dedication to his community a few years ago, when he helped to protect and administer medical attention to a man who had been stabbed at the Herndon Festival until police arrived, he said.
"I just look at something like that and just say, ‘well, I was just doing something that I’m passionate about,’" Kibler said. "You feel good when you’re out there, helping your community … you realize that we’re all in this thing together."
RECOGNIZED FOR his varied involvement in a number of groups, including nature presentations of the Friends of Runnymede Park, the administration of the Jeanne Schmidt Free Clinic and the Council for the Arts of Herndon, Reece has a number of different memories of volunteering, he said.
"With Runnymede Park, it’s seeing the kids’ delight at seeing the creatures of nature, it’s very rewarding," Reece said. "As a [former college] music major, when I’m able to help support the arts and help to give people greater opportunities, it’s rewarding."
In line with his fellow award recipients, Reece said that he felt that his personal dedication to community service did not outweigh that of many others in the community.
"To tell you the truth, I was a little embarrassed by all the attention," he said. "It was special, really very special and something I’ll never forget … but it’s in the experience that you really see the greatest awards."
"Volunteers say it all the time, but it’s true, you really do get more than you give."