One doesn't have to be born and bred in Whiting to improve its quality of life, as proven by Paul DePoy, this year's honored Carl A. Binhammer Award for volunteerism recipient. To say "bloom where you are planted" really applies to this talented man.
Paul is foreman for the Whiting Parks and Recreation Department and since his appointment, our parks has never looked so beautiful. With the help of his creative crew, Paul has used his professional talents to design and produce lovely gardens, clever spooky things for Dark in the Park, and interesting natural artwork for the beach.
It was his hard work, thorough research and creativity that made the empty lot by the museum into a one-of-a-kind native Indiana garden too.
I've known Paul as a personal friend for about 15 years. When I needed a volunteer, he'd be one of the first I'd call. He has even been one of the Bunch-o-Bunnies and when we started the Easter Parade, Paul spent countless hours making beautiful, sequined adult-size butterfly costumes from scratch. At Dark in the Park, he's been a performer and helped build and design sets for the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce's children's trailers.
His creativity has been evident for the last five years in his designs and execution of themed backgrounds for the chamber's annual installation dinner.
At Pierogi Fest, you can always find Paul hosting a stage or running children's games, selling raffle tickets, working the information booth or hosting Eastern Bloc Jeopardy.
Paul is creative in the kitchen, too. He's baked hundreds of dozens of cookies to promote the annual Arts Alive! bake sale and inspired the group to produce its own cookie recipe book. He was one of the chefs for past Whiting Garden Walk receptions and the Whiting-Robertsdale Historical Society tea.
For those who know or have worked with him, it's obvious that nothing is "too much work" for Paul if it makes a Whiting event more unique. Paul's brings his enthusiasm, sense of humor, and positive attitude is to every project, and it's those qualities that inspire those who work alongside him.
Paul has used his acting talents by donning a white beard, red velvet outfit and a husky "Ho ho ho" as he helps Santa Claus out at the Community Center for the senior citizens group and, at the other end of the spectrum, for the preschoolers. He was instrumental in originating the Bedtime Stories With Santa event at the Community Center and when the senior luncheons were served there, he would design seasonal flower arrangements on his own time to brighten up the luncheon area.
Whenever asked to perform, to design, to create, to build, or just to add that special touch only he has, Paul has given his time and talents for the good of so many projects in our community. He has embraced Whiting as his "hometown" and, in return, Whiting has now officially embraced him with the city's highest volunteerism award.
He so truly deserves the honor.