BRANDON — Walt Raysick and Lela Lilyquist know there are rewards to be reaped by doing good deeds.
But, unlike some volunteers, the only payment they seek for their selflessness is in satisfying their own souls rather than seeing their names in the limelight.
Both graciously took center stage, however, when their names were called during the Community Roundtable's annual Community Affairs Dinner on Thursday at Center Place Fine Arts. The event coincided with the organization's celebration of its 60th year.
Raysick was awarded the Alice B. Tompkins Award, named posthumously in honor of a longtime Brandon News editor and presented annually since 1975 to a person who has made a positive impact in the greater Brandon community through his or her commitment of time and talent.
A U.S. Navy retiree with 30 years of service, Raysick has a long list of volunteer efforts behind his name and is probably best known for advocating for veterans and families in need of assistance. He serves as chairman of the Field of Honor remembrance ceremonies at the Veterans Memorial Park and the Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins Jr. Veterans Museum in Tampa. He's also past president and current treasurer of the Veterans Council of Hillsborough County.
"When you describe volunteerism and you describe service to community, you understand the selection ... to honor him for his giving spirit," said Kavita Marballi, last year's Alice B. Tompkins Award winner, who announced her successor and presented him with a plaque.
Raysick said he was taken by surprise when his name was called.
"It's nice to be recognized for all the work I do, but I was not seeking it," he said. "And I don't do it alone, especially at the park."
Lilyquist, founder and director of Portamento of Hope, accepted the award for 2017 Non-profit of the Year.
Since 2008, the all-volunteer organization has helped feed the homeless and others in need throughout the greater Brandon community. It also provides furniture, household appliances, clothing, shoes, toiletries, books and toys for low-income families.
Lilyquist estimates that since its inception, her organization — which receives no county, state or federal aid — has helped about 55,000 people in need.
"For the most part we fly by the seat of our pants," Lilyquist said. "The only way I can say how we've survived is by the grace of God."
"I totally did not expect this award. I'm delighted and humbled by it."
Melissa Chin, a senior at Riverview High School, received the $1,000 annual Maureen Krzanowski Scholarship award, named in memory of a longtime Community Roundtable board member and presented by Community Roundtable President Janine Nickerson. Chin plans to attend the University of Tampa and study forensic science.
Hillsborough County School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins was the event's guest speaker. Eakins praised the roundtable's annual fall community service forum, where local high school students are invited to learn about the many volunteer opportunities in the greater Brandon area.
"I'm happy the Community Roundtable focuses on helping students earn community service hours," he said. "It changes their hearts and in turn, it changes their heads."
Contact Joyce McKenzie at [email protected]