Cornerstone Award Presented to Hanford
The United Way of Moore County presented Ernest "Ernie" Hanford its highest honor - the Cornerstone Award - Thursday.
A longtime resident and tireless community servant, the 89-year-old Hanford is the seventh recipient of the honor, which is given to "an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment, creativity, leadership, volunteerism, inspiration and sustained service with broad scope of impact on the quality of life in a community."
The past winners are Dr. John Dempsey, president of Sandhills Community College; women's golfing legend Peggy Kirk Bell; Felton Capel, well-known business and civic leader; FirstHealth CEO Charles Frock; David Woronoff, publisher of The Pilot; and the Rev. Dr. Hal Hyde, a retired minister and civic leader.
Hanford was honored at a banquet held at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Aberdeen. While past banquets have included a good-natured roast of the recipients, this year's presenters had a hard time finding anything to rib Hanford about.
"What you'll hear tonight besides a few jokes at Ernie's expense," said Woronoff, who emceed the event, "you'll also hear a tale of a guy who's extraordinary in the way that he gives back to the community. I would argue that our community is built on the backs of guys like Ernie, and he's personified the ethos that this community enjoys and makes us unique."
Hanford and his wife, Ruth, moved to the area from Springfield, Mass.. to retire, but both quickly became involved in their new community. Over the next decades, Hanford earned the reputation of a "silent hero," one who worked hard behind the scenes, usually without recognition, for the betterment of Moore County.
Some of the countless organizations Hanford has volunteered for include the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the Southern Pines Appearance Committee, the Southern Pines Police Department, the Southern Pines Library and Welcome Center, the Sandhills Food Bank, the Golden "K" Club, the Knollwood Village Home Owner's Board and his church, Community Congregational Church in Southern Pines.
He is a past recipient of the Governor's Volunteer Award, the Southern Pines Outstanding Volunteer Award and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Certificate for Aging Heros.
Among the first people Hanford met here was Caroline Eddy, now the executive director of the Sandhills Coalition for Human Care. At the time, Eddy was executive director of the Arts Council of Moore County She needed volunteers to spruce up a little strip of land beside the Sunrise Theater. She recalled that a "handsome gentleman" walked into the Arts Council office and volunteered.
She said that in typical Hanford fashion, he went above and beyond the call of duty. He not only landscaped that spot, but also spent many hours maintaining all of the "beautiful spaces" he created.
"Someone once said that success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well," Eddy said. "That describes Ernie to me. He calls himself an ordinary man, but he does many, many ordinary things extraordinarily well."
Former Southern Pines Police Chief Gerald Galloway, Laurel Stanell of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau and Suzanne La Follette Black of AARP also spoke.
Stanell presented Hanford with a scroll of news clippings about his work and life. Black gave him a portfolio to track his volunteer work and a gift certificate to Golden Corral. He is a well-known Golden Corral aficionado.
Hanford said he still couldn't believe that he won the award. He received a lengthy standing ovation from the audience.
"We're all in the same community and we're all trying to help things out in Moore County," Hanford said. "I think, basically, we're doing a darn good job."
Contact John Krahnert III at (910) 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story