The award was presented by Deborah Taunton, widow of Dale Taunton, who was killed in the May 4, 2003, tornado. The award has been given annually since 2004 in Taunton's name. Nominations are received by the Dacy Foundation, and selection of a winner is determined by an out-of-state committee.
Carver graduated from St. Mary's Catholic School in Pierce City and returned to town three years ago following a 40-year absence. In addition to serving as treasurer for the Pierce City Senior Center, Carver has dedicated herself to working with the Lawrence County Council on Aging (LCCOA), where she currently serves as president.
According to Carver's nomination, submitted jointly by six people, "Pat has traveled to Jefferson City to meet with state representatives on behalf of the Pierce City Senior Center and LCCOA. The staff at LCCOA love working with Pat. and they do not know what they would do without her. She makes herself available when they need her."
Carver was also recognized as a Good Neighbor Driver for the Pierce City community, taking senior citizens for doctors' appointments, treatments and pharmacy visits. It was noted Carver often takes clients to the doctor three days a week and spends the other two days in the work week at the Senior Center.
"Pat has and is always willing to lend a hand to those needing help, is willing to use her own resources and is willing to risk her own well being to help others. This is the true spirit of the Dale Taunton award," the nominators concluded.
Other finalists were Jay and Geneva Brown and Maura Sparks. The Browns recently donated a marble bench (in memory of their three sons) at the elementary school and financial support for construction of a sidewalk and fence along Gibbs Avenue and the school playground. Geneva Brown had worked for years as a bus driver, and Jay Brown had volunteered for years as a crossing guard. Maura Sparks has headed the Pierce City Senior Center Board since the time of the rebuilding effort after the tornado.
All three finalists received plaques in recognition of their efforts and a standing ovation from the audience.
Mayor Carol Hirsch introduced the nominees. She said the Dacy Foundation board has been surprised each year by the letters of nomination that come each year, recognizing outstanding community effort that might not be widely known.
Guest speaker for the evening was State Senator Jack Goodman, whom Hirsch said had been "at our side since May 4, 2003."
Goodman referred to the tornado recovery effort as "baptism by fire" in his first year as a state representative.
"It was an opportunity to learn quickly, and for the community to come together," Goodman said. "I'm proud of the community for its success and the cohesion we've seen."
Goodman, a Pierce City High School graduate, commented how he stays grounded in his work in Jefferson City by remembering the people in his hometown. When sitting with colleagues trying to figure out what legislative action to pursue next, he said he often thinks of the faces of people back home. If he sees that action in a specific direction would produce disappointment on their faces, that message rings home and tells him perhaps another course of action would be better.
The Dale Taunton Helping Hands Award and the Dacy Foundation are both reflections of how Pierce City residents had made something positive out of tragedies, Goodman said.
"Thank you for carrying on the strong tradition of Jim Dacy and Dale Taunton. Thank you for the opportunity to share in this celebration," he added.
The annual dinner was held at the Pierce City Senior Center. Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by John Archer and his piano students.