NEIGHBORS>> Model Citizens
By Sara Greene
Leader staff writer
Normally an outstanding individual gets the Beebe Citizen of the Year award, but this year, the award went to an outstanding volunteer team of two. Charles and Mary Garner were presented with the 2005 Beebe Citizens of the Year Award at the annual Beebe Chamber of Commerce banquet.
“We don’t see why anybody needs an award for doing what they’re supposed to,” said Charles Garner, 84.
“We felt honored. We feel good about what we do,” he said modestly.
The Garners have been married 63 years. They met during high school in Jonesboro. Charles joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and retired after more than 31 years of service.
They moved to Beebe from Jacksonville more than 20 years ago and got involved helping to run a food bank ministry at their church.
Now the couple volunteers with the non-denominational Beebe Community Outreach program helping deliver food to 38 families in the area.
They stop and visit with the families they serve, and the deliveries usually take up an entire day.
“We stay busy seven days a week,” Charles Garner said.
The Garners have been involved with The Shepherd’s Center of Beebe since its inception five years ago. Both are now board members. They are still actively involved in the classes and activities at the center.
Charles teaches a class on organic gardening, and Mary helps with organizational duties. She pitches in with other volunteers at the center with creating a theme each week and decorating.
Charles laughs when remembering the lesson he got when he taught his first class.
“My first organic gardening class had 11 people, nine ladies, and those ladies were all master gardeners, and there I was, not knowing nothing,” he said.
Charles Garner is chairman of the Wheels That Care program at the center which has about 15 volunteers who drive the elderly to their doctor appointments.
Since January, the program has helped 120 people get to their medical appointments in Searcy and Little Rock.
“The Garners are very handy,” said Paul Ramsey, executive director of The Shepherd’s Center of Beebe. “Anytime they see a need, they just do it. They are most deserving.”
When they aren’t busy volunteering, the Garners enjoy collecting antique bottles and Civil War relics, fishing and gardening.