Currituck Chamber honors Saunders with Citizen award

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Reginald Saunders (left) accepts the Currituck Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year Award on behalf of his father, Leon Saunders, from Paul O'Neal, chairman of the Currituck Chamber Board of Directors at the Kilmarlic Golf Club in Powells Point on Thursday.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, November 11, 2018

POWELLS POINT — The Currituck Chamber of Commerce honored two small businesses with its top awards Thursday night, but its Citizen of the Year Award went to a Currituck resident who helped save a county landmark from disappearing.

Lyn Small Inc. was awarded the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Award for businesses with fewer than 10 employees, while both Bluewater Restoration and D.V. Cleaning and Home Services received the Small Business of the Year Award for businesses with more than 10 employees.

Leon Saunders was awarded the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year Award for his work helping save the Historic Jarvisburg Colored School on Caratoke Highway.

The awards were presented during the Currituck Chamber’s annual meeting and banquet at the Kilmarlic Golf Club in Powells Point.

Accepting the Citizen of the Year Award for his father was Reginald Saunders, who said his dad couldn’t attend because of the recent death of Reginald’s mother. Inez Saunders died on Nov. 2; her funeral was held on Wednesday.

“This award is going to mean the world to my dad,” Reginald Saunders said. “He wanted to come tonight, but tonight when I get to the house and present it to him, I know that he’s going to have tears in his eyes.”

Leon Saunders worked for the N.C. Department of Transportation for 32 years before retiring. A longtime community volunteer, he takes meals to elderly widows, mows their grass and helps them prepare for inclement weather. He also drives people to medical appointments, visits people in the hospital and prepares food for fundraising events that help those in financial or medical trouble.

“He is very dedicated to the community, to anyone he can help. He goes above and beyond,” Reginald Saunders said of his father.

It was Leon Saunders’ work on the committee that helped save and restore the Historic Jarvisburg Colored School that garnered him the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year Award. Reginald Saunders said his father put so much time into saving the former school because his parents — Reginald’s grandparents — attended the school.

“Mr. Saunders is one of those people you call the ‘salt of the earth,’” Currituck Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Paul O’Neal said after Thursday’s event. “He would do anything to help anyone and he has just been a fixture in the local community for a number of years. I was really glad to see him honored.”

The other recipients of the Chamber’s top awards also expressed appreciation for the recognition.

“I should have worn better clothes,” owner Lyn Small quipped, referring to attending the event in his work clothes. Lyn Small Inc. is a marine construction business.

Lyn Small received its award for its support of the Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department and Special Olympics.

“Oh, this is really tremendous. It’s embarrassing in a way,” Small said. “It’s usually something somebody else gets, not me.”

He credited his company’s general manager, Gena Martin, and other employees for the award.

Bluewater Restoration, which repairs properties damaged by fire, mold and water, received its award for supporting the local food pantry, and for allowing its employees time off to volunteer in Currituck.

“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it,” Bluewater’s Stacy Justice said after the award presentation. “I’ve been in business for 32 years. I’ve never sought out any kind of award at all. ... I’m thrilled and I’m proud of everyone. I stand on a lot of shoulders.”

Jason Duncan-Velke and Anthony Duncan-Velke, owners of D.V. Cleaning and Home Services, were honored for their firm’s work with the Currituck High School boosters, Dare County sports programs and cancer charities.

“We have an amazing group of people who work hard and give great customer service. We owe our success to our clients and staff,” Jason Duncan-Velke said in an email Friday.