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Rotary Club Names Citizen of the Year

Long-time Herndon volunteer, resident Dave Sinclair receives honors.

Laura Price calls Dave Sinclair "her pool boy."

A few years ago, when the Vine Street resident decided on the poolside bar she wanted, she realized there was one major obstacle: she had no way of getting it to her home.

Enter Sinclair, who, without much more than a simple request, got in his pickup truck to drive over to the supplier, pick up the bar and deliver it to Price’s home that day.

And he didn’t stop there. Sinclair stayed that long hot summer day and assembled it in one sitting.

"After that, the joke we’ve always had is that he’s my pool boy," Price said. "He has always helped me with anything I needed with the pool, just like he helps with everything."

Price, who has been close friends with Sinclair for several years and works with him as a volunteer for the town’s annual free summer concert series, Friday Night Live, and through joint volunteer work with the Herndon Optimist Club, said that she has never known anyone else like him.

"He’s just a great fun, fun-loving guy, a true friend," Price said, "one that you treasure having your friendship with."

FOR THESE REASONS, reflected in his tireless volunteer work and constant willingness to help everyone around him, Dave Sinclair was named the Herndon Rotary Club’s 42nd Citizen of the Year, an award that will be bestowed upon him during the club’s annual awards ceremony on May 16. Sinclair was chosen by Tom Haselhorst and his committee after being nominated for the award by several of the community organizations that he volunteers with.

"The backbone of any community is the volunteers and the support that they lend," said Haselhorst, a Herndon Rotary Club member and past president, who was in charge of the Citizen of the Year committee this year. "It’s good to look around and recognize a great example of the ideal."

Sinclair has a laundry list resume of volunteer devotion to the town of Herndon, which includes his work as volunteer coordinator for Friday Night Live, vice president and general house manager for local acting troupe the Elden Street Players and a technical management volunteer for Herndon Community Television. Sinclair was also recognized in 2004 as one of the town’s Distinguished Service Award recipients, presented annually to a few area residents who devote long hours in service to the Herndon community.

"Dave is one of the most giving people I’ve ever known in the town and I’ve lived here a long time," said Richard Downer, a friend and member of the Herndon Rotary Club. "There’s so many things that make life more enjoyable in Herndon because of Dave Sinclair."

BUT PUTTING IN the volunteer time and helping around the community hasn’t been much of a chore but a leisure activity, said Sinclair, 59, while sitting down on the porch of his wood-paneled historic district home on Monroe Street, directly adjacent to downtown.

"It’s fun to meet all the different people and within that the different groups of people," Sinclair said. "I like to see myself as the one who gets all the different groups talking together. I’m kind of spread across the board and I’m talking with all different kinds of people, so I like that."

A native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, Sinclair settled in Herndon in 1992 after moving from Falls Church and retiring from a career in the U.S. Navy. The father of four and grandfather of five spends his time away from work and volunteering riding Harley Davidson motorcycles, smoking cigars and collecting "gadgets," he said.

It has been a natural part of his lifestyle as far back as he can remember to volunteer and help out wherever needed, a quality that ultimately attracted him to become a member of the Herndon community, Sinclair said.

"Maybe that’s my old Iowa upbringing, there it was a hometown community and that’s what you do, you help other people who need it," he said. "Herndon’s the same way, this is a real hometown community and when someone needs something, you help out. That’s what we do around here."

WHETHER HE’S SPENDING long hours editing local programming for Herndon television viewers or providing necessary upgrades to HCTV broadcasting equipment, Sinclair has been integral in its operation and improving its service since he joined the station as a volunteer in 2003, said Jan Tirrell, executive director of the local access network.

"He’s my gem, I don’t know how else to describe it," Tirrell said. "He is always there. He is the volunteer that I can count on right away, no matter what is needed."

Since Sinclair, who works full-time as the owner of a video conference and software programming company, joined her crew, the station’s technical aspects have increased to levels that had once been unimaginable, Tirrell said. His work was so valuable to the station that Sinclair was made a board member less than a year after volunteering, she added.

"HCTV would not be where we are today had it not been for Dave," Tirrell said. "I think [the people of Herndon] are very fortunate to have someone around like Dave."

And it is not just his technical savvy that makes him a lifesaver for community events and organizations, but his overall cheerful attitude towards life, said Tirrell and Price.

"Sometimes you can use the word meltdown, when you’re under a lot of stress," said Price. "Dave can never have meltdowns, and if you’ve seen him and you’re having a meltdown, he has that ability to help you and get you in a better mood."

HERNDON IS a special place for anyone looking to help out and be a part of the community, given its seemingly endless numbers of clubs and community activities, making his personal experiences as a volunteer that much more enjoyable, Sinclair said, even for those who work long hours.

"There’s a lot of hours in a day," he said. "You can spend a lot of time sleeping, you waste time doing that. When you think of all the stuff you can do, it’s amazing."

And there’s never a shortage of opportunities in Herndon to spend those hours, he added.

"When you look at all our festivals and our Friday Night Lives and all our clubs and groups, it’s just such an active community," Sinclair said. "There’s no reason somebody can’t find something to do or somewhere to help out in Herndon."