Nearly everyone at the 51st annual Polo Chamber of Commerce dinner Monday evening appeared to anticipate who Polo’s 2017 Citizen of the Year would be except for the recipient herself.
“I’m so stunned; I thought they only gave this to business people,” Joan Raley said after the presentation. “I can’t say enough, I couldn’t have done so much without all the friends I’ve made and help I’ve received.”
Tom Suits presented the award at the dinner, which was held at CedarStone.
He cited Raley’s decades of service in education as a fifth grade teacher, Polo Public Library Board member, and a member of the Polo Historical Society.
“I hope many of you remember the fall event called ‘Peddler’s Pass,’” said Suits, reminiscing. “Joan, while riding in a wagon with visitors and hometown people who wanted to hear Joan’s history lessons, gave tours of Polo and described places of historical significance.”
Suits also paid tribute to the history lessons and tours on behalf of the historical society she gave to Polo schools students, and her time with Chapter DW of the Philanthropic Educational Organization, of which she served on the board.
“Joan, you have done so much to preserve the history of Polo, and for that, we are all indebted to you.”
With that, Chamber President DJ Sanders presented her plaque at her seat, and Raley was floored.
With barely enough time to bask in her disbelief, Raley was swarmed by friends, eager to congratulate her.
Earlier in the evening, Bob Heath was named Volunteer of the Year.
Heath has had his hands in serving several organizations around town, including coaching Little League, leading Boy Scouts, and planting extra vegetables to share with the Polo Lifeline Food Pantry.
He’s also been planting and maintaining flowers and improving the signs at West Side Park, as well as helping with the Polo bath house renovations, and can always be see in helping at Church of the Brethren, Second Hand Rose, and the Polo Historical Society.
The award was presented by Sanders and Chamber Board member Tammy Merdian.