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Gillespie lauded as Citizen of the Year

September 14, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Samuel Gillespie was leaving his Chambersburg borough home Monday evening to accept the 2009 Mike Waters Citizen of the Year award when the phone rang.

The caller said he lost his job and had two flat tires on his car. He needed help.

"He told us we were the only ones he could call," said Gillespie's wife, Carol.

Calls like that -- and the assistance that follows -- earned Gillespie the award presented Monday during the Chambersburg Borough Council meeting.

"When we find a need, we go and help them," Gillespie said.

Gillespie, 75, has volunteered with Little League and expanded his community service through First United Methodist Church. He and other volunteers host a free community supper on Thursdays. Gillespie also serves as treasurer of the Friends of Legal Services organization and distributes furniture he has collected to people in need.

"I think everyone should be involved," Gillespie said. "It changes your life."

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Gillespie was manager of his school's football team when Waters played.

"This award means a lot to me because I knew Mike," he said.

Councilwoman Mary Beth Shank described the Gillespies as family friends who taught her childhood Sunday school class. She recounted the award recipient's humble response upon learning of the honor.

"He said, 'This is just what people should do,'" Shank said.

Gillespie grew up in Chambersburg and worked for the U.S. Postal Service.

"It's been a wonderful life," he said, saying he has enjoyed befriending other volunteers.

Waters founded the Community Improvement Association in 1963. It led the fight for fair housing and wider job opportunities for minorities in the 1960s and 1970s, then changed its emphasis to tutoring and other programs for disadvantaged children.

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