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'Behind the scenes' volunteer wins top philanthropy award

Mary Garrison, winner of the Richard C. and Vina L. Sauer Award, with Randy Romeo, chairman of the Community Foundation of Henderson County. Mary Garrison, winner of the Richard C. and Vina L. Sauer Award, with Randy Romeo, chairman of the Community Foundation of Henderson County.

FLAT ROCK — The Community Foundation of Henderson County on Wednesday presented its top philanthropy leadership award to a longtime volunteer at Johnson Farm, supporter of the Flat Rock Playhouse and active worker for many civic organizations.

The 20th Richard and Vina L. Sauer Charitable Leadership Award went to Mary Garrison, a self-described "behind the scenes" worker who has been a volunteer in the community since she moved here with her husband, Dr. Bill Garrison, in 1976. "I have received far more than I have given," she said.

Established by the Community Foundation, the award recognizes outstanding leadership and contributions to Henderson County.

"This individual is a superstar on the community stage but always with a backstage entrance and exit," said George Bond Jr., the foundation's recognition chair.
The Garrisons' long planned 40th wedding anniversary trip to Scotland prevented Mary from attending the luncheon at Kenmure Country Club in Flat Rock, where the honor was announced.
"I know they're having the time of their lives," Bond said, "but I must say what happened today is just like Mary — making her daughter come up and take the bow while she looks on with pride from a distance vantage point across the Atlantic."
Anne Garrison Capp said she was honored to read the statement on her mother's behalf.
Having moved around a lot as a child, Garrison said she was glad to have stayed put since 1976.
"I was so grateful to be in this beautiful place where our family could establish our roots," she said. "It has been a joy to live here, raise a family, have our children and grandchildren come back to the area. It has been my pleasure to give back by being involved in various nonprofits over that long time span. I have received far more than I have given.
"One place I volunteer is Historic Johnson Farm. I was drawn to it because of the generous spirit of the Johnson brothers. They cared so much about young people, their education and their future. They set a great philanthropic example for all of us when they donated their farm to our schoolchildren. I wanted to be a part of that effort to keep that treasure in our community.
"Traditionally I am a behind-the-scenes person involved in team efforts, so I feel more comfortable accepting this award if I may accept it on behalf of the many people deserving people here and those in the community who give back. ... I would like to take this opportunity to encourage others to give back."
Past winners of the award are Frank Ewbank, Kenneth Youngblood, Morris Kaplan, Kermit Edney, William E. "Jamie" Jamison, William "Bill" Stokes, Jr., Marcia Caserio, Eleanora Meloun, Tom and Sue Fazio, Frank Byrd, Colin E. Thomas, Dot Marlow, Duane and Peggy McKibbin, Jeff Miller, Dr. Kathleen McGrady family, Robert and Doris Eklund, Teddi Segal, Marian Lowry and Dr. Stuart and Carola Cohn.