By Sarah Plummer
The 26th annual YMCA Spirit of Beckley Community Service Award banquet honored Nancy Kissinger, who not only embodies the award in “spirit,” but who has served the YMCA of Southern West Virginia for 14 years.
“It’s easier to be on the giving end than the receiving end of these awards. There are so many wonderful past recipients, I’m humbled and honored to be among them,” Kissinger said.
“Robert Frost said, ‘There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate,’” quoted Spirit of Beckley co-chair and 2010 award recipient Bill Baker. “Nancy is what the Spirit of Beckley is about. She is tender and compassionate and gives herself to the community. She is honestly concerned about the youth of the community.”
Kissinger serves on both the local and national YMCA boards.
“She literally has her hands in everything,” said YMCA CEO Jay Rist. “She has volunteered countless hours and been a leader in the community numerous ways. We could never think of a better person to honor this year.”
In a letter from U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, he said Kissinger’s service to Raleigh General Hospital, the United Way of Southern West Virginia, Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, her work to create the Paul C. Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex, and service on other boards and groups “does not compare to the joy I know you experienced as a soccer mom.”
Kissinger’s daughter Megan Legursky described her mother as enthusiastic, hardworking, forward thinking, impactful and courageous.
“She goes by many different titles: a leader, a risk taker, a team player, a community activist — and most importantly, a friend. This list goes on and on, but I have the pleasure of being able to call her mom.”
Legursky added that there were times the family tried to get Kissinger to slow down and take it easy.
“Stop and slow down aren’t in her vocabulary. But my mom and Beckley are two peas in a pod; as she keeps giving to the community, the community gives back to her tenfold,” she said.
Kissinger spoke about the closeness she feels to Beckley and Raleigh County.
Fourteen years ago, Kissinger moved to Beckley and within one month was asked to serve on the YMCA of Southern West Virginia’s board—and a month after that was asked to serve as treasurer.
“Beckley welcomed us, took us in, and made us feel at home,” she added.
In a personalized video from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, he said “Words cannot describe the work you have done to enhance the lives of Beckley’s children and to help them grow to be healthy and responsible adults.”
The congratulatory video from Manchin was accompanied with video greetings from Kissinger’s son Ryan at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, and her son-in-law Doug Legursky of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
In addition to the 2012 Spirit of Beckley Award, Kissinger also received an accolade from the YMCA USA, the Distinguished West Virginian Award presented by Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh on behalf of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the Key to the City of Beckley; and a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama read by event co-chair Michael W. Darby.
During Monday’s presentation, the group held a moment of silence to remember 1988 Spirit of Beckley Community Service Award recipient Mary Caperton Banks Smith, who passed away in September.
In her acceptance speech, Kissinger made it clear that she would not have been able to serve Beckley and Raleigh County without the support of her family and the community itself.
She encouraged others to find a passion and work to serve the community within the parameters of that passion.
“You get so much more than you give when you’re a volunteer,” she added.
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