In my life, I have had the good fortune to meet many remarkable people. Often, they are men and women who help children in one way or another.
Some work with children struggling with learning how to read. Some coach track teams. Some make sure that children with mental or physical challenges have what they need as they go through the day.
Whatever their focus, these people have a number of traits in common. All of them treat the children and everyone else they meet along the way with respect. When they come upon a child who gives himself a hard time, they do their best to point the child down the path that leads to an understanding that each of us is special. They will say that they get as much as, if not more than, the kids get from their time together.
When I am around such people I feel refreshed.
One such person is Art Blevins, the supervisor of the Hanes Hosiery Community Center. For more than 25 years—with the help of other special people—he has been making Hanes Hosiery a place where young people want to spend their time, because they know the people there will take care of them.
When those young people grow up, many come back and thank Art for what he did for them over the years. In my imagination there exists an institution called the Bank of Goodwill. There, people’s thoughts of appreciation or gratitude for what someone has done become deposits to a person’s account. Art’s balance in the Bank of Goodwill makes him a rich man.
Knowing what Art does for children and how he treats people in general, people are inclined to say, “Yes,” when he needs something. Over the years, business people have provided T-shirts, trophies, Chik-fil-A coupons, hot dogs and pizzas for such enterprises as the annual “Hang the Net” basketball extravaganza, which Art “retired” from this summer after 25 years.
The first time I met Art, I received one of those trophies. It served as a thank you for being the sole adult participant in a hot-dog-eating contest for kids at the recreation center. Art made sure that one of the younger contestants would win by serving me foot-long hot dogs while the kids gobbled regular ones. Afterward, the winner asked whether I would swap trophies because my thank-you trophy was bigger than his champion trophy. I told him, “No,” because mine had my name it. Whenever that has come to mind in the years since, I wish I had peeled off the plate with my name on it and made the exchange.
If you spend any time around Art, you can’t help but notice how modest he is. I know he understands the importance of serving others, but I can’t see him ever suggesting that what he does is a big deal.
It is, though.