Springfield, MO

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Opinion: Recognition for a giving heart

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Serving as a Greene County commissioner, I am privileged to see and hear about the many individuals of this community at work giving of themselves in pursuit of making this place a better place for all. The following words attributed to Ralph Waldo Emmerson [and others], seem to capture much in the character of these men of the year the Springfield Business Journal is recognizing; “to laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children … to leave the world a bit better … to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

We witness that success in the giving of these men individually, as well as through the many clubs, volunteer and fraternal organizations and the many churches of our community. Yet, as individuals they do little in attracting personal attention to themselves and their giving hearts.

To receive SBJ’s Men of the Year award is a most humbling experience. I make that statement from personal experience as one of last year’s recipients. Every day there are so many men and women of this community who give of themselves, and we as residents benefit so greatly from their unselfishness.

What often goes unseen in the lives of these men is the fact that much of their community service does not occur from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. So often it happens before and after business hours, squeezed in between a zillion things competing for their time.

From personal experience, I don’t want to leave out the importance of the men, women and yes, children, who provide encouragement and support to the caring person seen in each of these honorees.

These 20 men being recognized by SBJ stand as great examples for others to follow. Read closely the individual profiles of each honoree and you quickly see what is behind their priorities and focus of community service.

Perhaps unknowingly, they are following a wise philosophy that says: “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.” Here you have 20 men who know how to keep their ax of community service sharpened.

Harold Bengsch is a Greene County associate commissioner for District 1 and a 2018 Men of the Year honoree. He can be reached at


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