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I was pleased to see Roy Lanham honored Saturday at the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner.

Dubbing him "Outstanding Citizen of the Year" is appropriate, indeed. And I don't even know three-quarters of the good work that Roy does.

But I remember him as one of the first cool people I met when I was a freshman at Eastern Illinois University -- that tells you how long Roy has been doing important things for the Charleston community.

And the guy hasn't aged a bit. Wow.

My mom suggested to me that, when I got to college, I check out the Newman Center to help make friends, and they'd happen to be Catholic as well. I soon found out about an afternoon of activities they were having, so I made the just-a-few-blocks walk from campus to the Newman Center, which was along Lincoln Avenue at that time.

Roy was one of the first people I encountered. He had that huge grin and such a fun and welcoming attitude. I remember him cutting up and joking around while playing volleyball in the yard. This was a guy who was just fun hang out with.

I immediately felt welcome and included. Hanging out with Roy and other Newman Center staffers and students was comfortable to me, away from home for the first time.

I remember silly things about Roy. I was at the center one time and they ordered pizza, and he liked green peppers alone on his pizza. I'd never heard of such a thing! I tried a piece, though ...

... and you know, it wasn't half bad.

Roy was a model of Catholicism and Christianity, too. He talked the talk and walked the walk. I remember him assisting at many a Mass, giving his all and clearly, by my observation, a faith-filled man.

He was so busy at the center that I wondered if he'd ever have time for a personal life. Then he and his wife-to-be Sher -- just as wonderful a person inside and out as Roy -- got together, and I've always been so happy for them both. They make a practically perfect couple, and they have a beautiful family.

There are many people like Roy in our communities, and they're the ones who really make life great here in Mattoon and Charleston. I just happen to know Roy personally from ... well, "way back."

Kudos to both the Charleston and the Mattoon Chambers for recognizing these often unsung heroes, who typically do not seek the spotlight but really do deserve their place in the sun for all they do for their fellow human beings. From making a skinny college freshman feel welcome in a whole new "world" to leading the entire Springfield diocese campus ministry, Roy and people like him make a true difference in all of our lives.

We may not know it, but we need these folks, and we all benefit as a community from their good works and selfless acts.

Really, perhaps it's Charleston that deserves congratulations, too. After all, isn't this city lucky to have such fine citizens? They are examples for all of us.

***

Is it cold enough for ya yet?

It's funny how people are different. One person in our newsroom who I won't name is always cold and appears to have a couple of layers on even inside today (Wednesday). The outside temperature currently has warmed up to 0 from -11 when I got in my vehicle to come to work today, but it's a soothing 72 degrees inside.

Another person in the JG-TC office who is notoriously hot no matter the weather didn't even wear gloves to work today. He did wear a coat, but he's got short sleeves on as usual -- albeit with a T-shirt under his button-up shirt.

What kind of thermostat wars do you have at home?

I keep the thermostat at 68 degrees, and the teenager temporarily occupying one of the house's bedrooms always complains that "it's freezing." You know what my reply is: "Put on a sweater."

All the smart folks I know, who are able to, are staying home in this cold weather. Of course, nothing stops some people from going out and about.

I just can't believe the U.S. Postal Service actually canceled delivery for a day Wednesday. That never happens. My dad was a mail carrier, and I remember some horrible snowy and cold days that he still worked, lugging a heavy mailbag, walking in the deep snow from house to house for miles to deliver the mail.

Could it be that the USPS did something smart? That's crazy talk.

I'd like to share a list of productive things I prefer to do when it's horribly cold outside and not fit to be out:

  • Sort through boxes of keepsakes and clean out.
  • Get rid of some clothes and gather up other items to give to the needy. Do I really need three Superman shirts? I'll just keep the one that glows in the dark. That's a must-have.
  • Do a bit of extra cleaning around the house. Who knows what dust balls are collected in that tiny space between the back of the toilet tank and the wall?
  • Write in a journal about my life, so that generations to come have an idea of what it was like in 2019.
  • Call and catch up with friends I haven't talked to for a while.
  • Work on a project, such as making crafts or writing old-fashioned letters.
  • Finally learn how to play Solitaire.
  • Organize old papers such as bills or tax returns or receipts.

Now I'd like to share a list of what I'd actually probably get done on days like this if I wasn't working:

  • Sleep in.
  • Eat Multi-Grain Cheerios for breakfast. Yum.
  • Nap.
  • Watch TV.
  • Nap again.
  • Watch more TV.
  • Eat ice cream. Double yum.
  • Go to bed early.

You see? Reality always gets in the way of my aspirations for bettering myself. To be fair, though, it's been really, really, really cold! Who can get too motivated when your nose hairs freeze as soon as you step outside?

Just pure survival is a plus in the below-zero temps. And just think ... before we know it, we'll be complaining about how hot it is outside. Maybe.

I've seen great things from people like Roy Lanham, so I'm going to ask my good friend Roy to make his next project warming up the temps around here. If he can help a backwards country girl get a good start on transitioning to be a formidable college student, I suspect he can do anything.

But no worries. He's the Citizen of the Year. You couldn't blame him if he sits back and rests on his laurels a bit. The thing is, community members like Roy never do. That's how the rest of us keep benefiting from their talents.

Congrats, Roy. Keep up the good work, even if you can't control the weather. We'll overlook that little detail just this once.

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Penny Weaver is the general manager and editor of the JG-TC. Her columns include her own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinion or editorial position of the JG-TC. Contact her at pweaver@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6863, and follow her on Twitter @PennyWeaver.

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