Honoring a devoted volunteer

Seven-year Kiwanian named member of the year in East Meadow


East Meadow Kiwanians are well aware of Debbie Coates’s selfless dedication to the organization, and the club’s president, Mitchell Allen, chose her as the 2011-12 Kiwanian of the Year.

“Kiwanian of the Year is a person who stands out as an individual who goes over and above,” said Allen. “Her passion to help others is why she clearly demonstrates the best in Kiwanis, and why I had the distinct honor in naming her the Kiwanian of the Year.”

Allen made the announcement at a Kiwanis meeting on Sept. 19. “I was totally surprised, honored and humbled,” Coates told the Herald. “Of all the good people, the dedicated people, it’s amazing that they picked me.”

“She was in shock,” said Alan Beinhacker, the 2010-11 Kiwanian of the Year. “Her face was priceless.”

In addition to assisting at local food drives and participating in Cornell Cooperative Extension cleanups, Coates helped plan two events hosted by Kiwanis this year, East Meadow Pride Day and the charity golf outing in July. “I helped make Pride Day run as smoothly as possible,” said Coates, who assisted co-chairs Beinhacker and Liz Fries as they organized the event, shopped for supplies and planned table arrangements.

“I just let her go, and everything turned out great,” said Beinhacker.

Coates and Beinhacker, who also co-chaired the golf outing with Mike Litzner, dedicate themselves to Kiwanis from April to August each year, Beinhacker said. This year, Litzner said, Coates was instrumental in securing sponsors for the golf outing, at which the organization raised more than $20,000 for the community, the most in its history. “We had more than 75 sponsors,” Beinhacker added, “and many because of Debbie.”

“She’s a dedicated, hardworking individual,” said Litzner. “When she sets her mind to something, she puts her heart and soul into it. She’s a terrific person, and I got to know her better through the golf charity.”

“I am so proud Debbie Coates was recognized as the Kiwanian of the Year …,” fellow Kiwanian Brian O’Flaherty, who has known her for 12 years, said in a statement. “Every committee or organization she joins, she is a betterment to the organization because of her class, her vast knowledge and her organizational skills. I cannot imagine her not being in our East Meadow Kiwanis.”

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