There was something different about the community breakfast Sen. Doug Overbey attended Friday morning at First United Methodist Church, and the senator said it took a few moments for that difference to set in.
After all, as the representative from Blount and Sevier counties, there are a lot of breakfast gatherings on the Senator’s agenda.
This one, however, was in his honor.
Sen. Overbey said he was honored when he got the phone call last month telling him he had been chosen as the 2011 recipient of the Community Leadership Award from Leadership Blount. But the reality didn’t hit until he walked into the breakfast Friday morning, April 8.
“It has really been an overwhelming morning,” Sen. Overbey said. “It started when I walked through the door and saw everybody here. That generated a lot of emotion to see people here you respect and admire,” he said.
The senator said he was reminded of the Bible verse in Matthew where Jesus talks of “the least of these, my brethren,” and that was how he felt his position was in the presence of the community leaders and VIPs gathered for the Leadership Blount breakfast.
Katherine Best Caputo, executive director of Leadership Blount, praised Overbey for his service to the community and his willingness to help others. “Doug exemplifies what the Community Leadership Award is all about. Not only is he a leader in his profession, but he’s a public servant, and he’s a role model,” she said.
Caputo said society doesn’t give enough recognition to those who do good in society. “This is an opportunity to celebrate those who, day-in and day-out, make sacrifices and do the right thing for others,” she said.
Adriel McCord, chair of the board of directors for Leadership Blount, said Overbey has had longevity in the community, serving not only as a state senator and state representative, but also as a county commissioner. “In addition to his community service, he is a successful attorney and has done a lot of work with the Boys Scouts and with the high schools,” McCord said.
Friends from throughout the community turned out for the breakfast. Attorney Will Carver said there are many leaders in Blount County, but Overbey stands out. “I look up to Doug, not for what he has done but how he goes about doing the things he does,” Carver said. “He truly has a servant’s spirit.”
Sharon Hannum, chair of the Chamber Foundation, praised Overbey for being a statesman. “He cares not only about this county, but about the entire state of Tennessee,” she said.
Teri Brahms, executive director of Business and Community Services with Pellissippi State Community College, thanked Overbey for how he has served where they both attend services at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. “He has served as an usher, served on the vestry or wherever he’s needed as his schedule allows he will serve,” she said.
District 8 State Rep. Bob Ramsey and Rep. Art Swann presented Overbey with a proclamation honoring his work. Ramsey said Overbey’s commitment to the community is an inspiration to everyone. “It is such a pleasure to work with Doug. He’s such a humble person. Until I saw the proclamation we were drafting for him, I had no idea the extent of his volunteer work and service to non-profit organizations and agencies,” he said.
Edward Harper, senior services coordinator with Blount Memorial Hospital and lead singer with the band Pistol Creek Catch of the Day, said Overbey is a leader with energy. “Everywhere I go, he’s there before I get there, and he always has the welfare of the community at heart,” Harper said.
Bob Hirche, owner of ICMAS, an international contract firm based in Maryville, said, “Doug is and continues to be a positive influence in Blount and Sevier counties because of his deep personal commitment and involvement in the community.”
Brenda Sellers, president with Chroma Graphics, Inc., in Maryville, said Overbey was in the Leadership Blount Class of 2004 with her. “On behalf of the ‘Say No More’ Class of 2004, we’re proud of our graduate,” she said.
David Rader said he met Overbey when he was running for state representative, and they got to be good friends. “He’s the hardest working legislator I’ve ever known, and he’s a great friend,” Rader said.
One of the speakers at the breakfast was Shannon McCloud, executive director of Secret Safeplace for Newborns of Tennessee. Secret Safeplace is a non-profit organization that educates people about newborn surrender laws in Tennessee, and McCloud said Overbey was instrumental in getting that law passed in Tennessee. She praised his dedication to the community, then said that she has also gotten to know the “prankster” side of Overbey.
“I sometimes get phone calls from a guy who would like to surrender an adult child...a stray animal…a wife,” she said. “Doug doesn’t disguise his voice very well, but I always play along,” she said.
Rick Shepard, the 2010 Community Leadership Award recipient, drew laughter when he presented Overbey, a golfing buddy, with a homemade “Shepard Golf Outing Risk Kit” that consisted of a helmet with a flag on so that Shepard can see Overbey when he is ahead of him on a golf course, a flashing light, a weather radio, gripper wax, two golf balls with other people’s names on them in case he hits the ball through someone’s window and a Doug Overbey magnet campaign decal.
Shepard thanked Overbey for his work in the community. “Doug, this is a better place because of you. We’re glad you chose Blount County to raise your family and share your life with us,” he said. “I’m blessed to call you a friend and, unbeknownst to you, you are a lifelong mentor.”