ALBANY-- A local community service organization took a pause from giving money to students for scholarships and other organizations that fight child abuse to honor an unsung hero of its own.
The Exchange Club of Albany awarded member C. Melvin Chapman, 81, with its 63rd Book of Golden Deeds award. The book is an award given those who act selflessly in their volunteering for the benefit of others without thought to honor or repayment.
"The award is to honor those individuals whose good deeds might otherwise go unnoticed," said Bill Alford, chairman of the award committee. "The recipient will join an elite group."
Alford then went on to list the many ways Chapman has served the community since moving to Albany in 1971. Chapman has participated in flood rebuilding efforts in Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida and, of course, Georgia.
Chapman was the first to teach a co-educational Bible class at First Baptist Church of Albany, where he is a deacon. He has done home repairs for widows, attended to a paraplegic neighbor and built wheelchair ramps with his old friend A.J. Nobles, among other kind undertakings.
"He is the cog that makes the wheel go round," Nobles said. "He is a real Christian fellow."
Suitably humble, Chapman was quick with a smile and a retort for his friend Nobles, who enticed Chapman to the dinner without knowing he would be honored.
"I'll never trust A.J. again," Chapman said. "I sure didn't ask for this honor. It is just hard to say no when I see a need. I thank you."
Two of Chapman's daughters, Joan Kelly and Carla Chapman Pless, drove in from North Carolina to see him honored and to visit with their mother, Mynette.
"His lifestyle has always been to help people," Pless said. "I learned it from him, and my children learned it from me. He passed it on to them."