By James Beaty
Susan Kanard didn’t think about future awards when she started serving as a volunteer for groups and organizations in the McAlester area.
Consideration of future honors didn’t enter into her enthusiasm for helping others when she began a quarter-century of service to the Youth Emergency Shelter 25 years ago — which makes it all the more rewarding to those who named Kanard the recipient of the 2012 Hometown Heroes Award from the Modern Woodmen of America.
“It couldn’t be more deserving,” said Betty Ballkman, of the Modern Woodmen’s office in McAlester.
“We try to recognize people in the community who have been going, going, going and don’t get recognition for what they do,” Balkman said.
Kanard received the Hometown Heroes Award at a Nov. 27 dinner held at Angel’s Diner.
“We give one once a year,” Balkman said of the Hometown Heroes Award.
Kanard appeared touched by the honor.
“I appreciate being nominated for this,” Kanard said.
In addition to the award, Kanard received something to donate to the recipient of her choice.
“She gets $100 to pass on to a charity and she said she will give it to the Youth Shelter,” Balkman said.
Kanard has been a Youth Emergency Shelter member since 1973, having been asked to serve by her neighbor, Tom Cornish.
In addition to the Youth Emergency Shelter, Kanard has served as a volunteer for the Mercy Clinic, Partners for an Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the Southeast Oklahoma Chapter of the American Red Cross and a number of other organizations.
Kanard also has been a member of the McAlester Planning Commission for the past year, served as a Meals on Wheels volunteers and spent several years as a mentor for the Will Rogers School in McAlester.
She’s also belonged to two Fortnightly groups in McAlester. She first joined the Homemakers and is now secretary for Casual Gourmet.
Kanard is also a member of P.E. O., of the Philanthropic Organization of Women, where she’s held the offices of president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.
She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in English.
“I worked for TV Guide magazine as an editor for seven years,” Kanard said.
Kanard and her husband, Dr. Hailey Kanard, moved to McAlester in 1970, where he opened an optometry practice.
“We have two sons,” Linda Kanard said. “Roly is a doctor in Glenwood Springs, Colo., and Travis is a land man and lives in Norman with our granddaughter, Bailee.”
Her years of service began when her sons were old enough to start school.
“When the boys entered elementary school, I decided to channel my energies toward volunteer work and community service,” she said.
Kanard has been a member of All Saints’ Episcopal Church since 1973.
Modern Woodmen of America is a tax-exempt fraternal benefit society which sells life insurance, annuity and investment products not to benefit stockholders, but to improve the quality of life of its stakeholder-members, families and communities, according to information from Balkman.
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