Howard B. Lang, Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service presented to Marin Blevins
(COLUMBIA, MO) - At the July 15 Columbia City Council meeting, Mayor Brian Treece presented Marin Blevins with the 10th Howard B. Lang, Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service to the City of Columbia.
The Lang Award was initiated by a gift from Leo Hill in 2008 to honor the memory of Howard B. Lang, Jr., who served as Columbia’s mayor from 1953 to 1957, and to recognize a resident annually who models the highest qualities of volunteerism to City programs or services. Hill was city manager during the years when Lang was mayor.
Blevins has served the community through involvement in youth sports and other health-related activities, which include his tireless work with the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
"Marin is a shining example of a person who gives back to his community. His life course is the very definition of altruism," nominator Ted Farnen said.
In the years before there were many competitive youth sports in Columbia, Blevins took the initiative to start competitive programs for both soccer and basketball. He coached sports programs for 32 years and has volunteered for the Special Olympics for 37 years, taking on significant leadership roles. Blevins was an effective volunteer fundraiser for the United Way in past years and has served on numerous City boards and commissions.
To affix a number to his dedicated service, Blevins has been involved in at least 16 different community organizations ranging from his Parks and Recreation support, to the Mayor’s Advisory Council and Council on Physical Fitness and Health, to Cancer Research Center fundraising, to being a foster parent and beyond.
Another nominator adds that his faithful volunteerism is driven by his vision of a healthier Columbia, saying, "Marin is the most active commissioner. He studies the budget, writes op-ed pieces on Parks and Recreation, attends many events including trail dedications, fundraisers for the Parks and Recreation Endowment Fund, City Council meetings," and so much more. Another nominator said that Blevins "has personally taken it upon himself to make our community better and whether that’s through raising funds, coaching young athletes, recruiting volunteers, or serving on various City commissions, his lifetime of dedication to the City of Columbia is remarkable."
While the Lang Award shines a bright light on volunteers for City of Columbia programs and services, Blevins was formerly named a Volunteer of the Year by the Heart of Missouri United Way, Volunteer of the Year twice by the Special Olympics and Volunteer of the Decade by State Farm Insurance for his community service. Blevins educated local residents regarding the community benefits provided by local parks and trails, helping to renew the Park Sales Tax, which contributes funding for Columbia’s extensive parks and recreation opportunities.
The selection committee for the annual Lang Award changes every year, but always includes the sitting mayor of Columbia. Other members of the 2019 selection committee were Mary Anne McCollum, Carol Rhodes, Pat Fowler and Fran Meunch. The committee’s selection criteria include a nominee’s volunteer activities, personal initiative and impact.
A cash gift of $1,000 is included with the award; Marin has requested that his gift be donated to the Columbia Parks and Recreation Endowment Fund, administered by the Community Foundation of Central Missouri.
Marin’s wife Donna and numerous friends and supporters were in attendance to celebrate with him. Also present at the Council meeting was Khaki Westerfield, daughter of Howard B. Lang, Jr., and Columbia resident.
Past recipients of the Lang Award are Ed Kaiser, Darwin Hindman, Dave Griggs, Robert C. Smith, Eva Jo Sapp (posthumously), Kee Groshong, Genie Rogers, Mary Ann McCollum and Cheryl Price.