Palm Beach North honors first responders at ceremony
Chamber presents inaugural Valor and Community Service Awards breakfast.
David McGovern wakes up every morning with a voice in his head that says:
“Go change someone’s life for the better today.”
McGovern does that every day, as a member of Tequesta’s Fire Rescue team, and he was one of a dozen first responders honored last week in the inaugural Valor and Community Service Awards given by Palm Beach North, the chamber of commerce serving communities from Riviera Beach to Jupiter.
“What drives me to give back?” McGovern said in his Irish accent, after receiving his community service award. “My two families — my own family and the family of Tequesta.
“People need to know the world has not turned its back on them, and they are not alone.”
Beth Kigel, president of Palm Beach North, introduced each honoree at the awards breakfast April 18 at the Riviera Beach Marina Event Center.
Keynote speaker was Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis.
Kigel introduced McGovern, who has coordinated several community events in Tequesta, by recalling a conversation she had with Tequesta Fire Chief Joel Medina.
Medina said serving others was a “calling” for McGovern, one the firefighter said he learned from his parents in Ireland.
“My parents taught me to find the good in everything,” he said, adding that helping others is a “feeling far better than any paycheck.”
Palm Beach North’s Community Service Award winners
These were awarded to first responders who have given back to their community by unselfishly volunteering their time to a nonprofit group or project that benefits the community within the boundaries of Palm Beach North.
J u p i t e r Po l i c e O f f i c e r O’Neil Anderson
As a member of the Jupiter Police Department’s Neighborhood Enhancement Team, Anderson’s role is to develop trusting relationships within the community. He does that — and more.
Here’s an example: Anderson worked with an elderly widowed man on a code violation issue, and he realized the man was estranged from his daughter. Anderson reached out to the daughter, and now she has a relationship with her dad. Anderson also organized a drive to provide 25 Thanksgiving dinners for needy families.
“As much as I enjoy putting bad guys behind bars,” Anderson said, “it doesn’t match seeing a smile on a child’s face at the holidays.”
Palm Beach Sheriff ’s Office Deputy Sherry Baker
Baker volunteers her time — beyond her road patrol responsibilities — to help the youth of Lake Park.
She started the Citizens Academy in Lake Park, an effort that required intense planning and cooperation from the entire Sheriff ’s office. She also partnered with the Bridges of Lake Park to provide 275 supply-filled backpacks for needy students.
“Lake Park is the hidden jewel of Palm Beach County,” Baker said in accepting the award. “I love serving people.”
Village of Tequesta Lt . James Pike
He’s been serving the village for 24 years, and started as a bicycle patrol officer. This earned him the nickname “Pike on a Bike.”
Pike started the Bicycle Rodeo, promoting bike safety, and he also founded the Tequesta Police Nautical Club in 2009. That’s a free summer program for kids.
Jennifer Brashear, Andrea Santa, Judy Brandt and Ellen Lovejoy of Palm Beach Gardens’ Joy Drive
More than 15 years ago, these women founded the city’s annual Joy Drive to bring gifts to needy families each year. Jennifer Brashear (from left), Andrea Santa, Judy Brandt and Ellen Lovejoy
“These individuals sacrifice and take the time and effort to make sure that others who are less fortunate have something to celebrate,” says Deputy City Manager Stephen Stepp. “Because of their selfless efforts, 1,600 needy children received multiple wrapped toys this past holiday season.”
They keep Palm Beach Gardens running in their day jobs, too.
Brashear is a detective with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, Santa is fire inspector of the Palm Beach Gardens Fire Department, Brandt is emergency communications manager of the police department, and Lovejoy is background investigator in the police department.
North Palm Beach Firefighter Amanda Apfel
When her 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, firefighter Apfel found support from The Kids Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit that provides hope and help to local children battling cancer or blood disorders.
Apfel then became a mentor to other parents being treated for cancer. (Her daughter is now in remission.)
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” Apfel said.
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