Betsy and I were honored to receive the Citizen of the Year Award from the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Saturday night. The chapter here in Nashville is a philanthropic powerhouse. If there’s someone in need they will track them down and help them – young or old, no matter the circumstance. During the May 2010 floods they were instrumental in providing relief to hundreds of people. It wasn’t their mission and nobody asked them to spend weeks of their own personal time assisting survivors. They just did it because these gentlemen have the biggest hearts in Nashville.

PrestonWhich brings me to Preston Bailey, or “Mr. Bailey” as his wife, Jan, refers to him. Preston is an officer in this fraternity I have come to admire and respect so much. He’s also one of our nonprofit partners at CRC because of his job at Welcome Home Ministries. Preston has become like family to the Chicks. The other day I was cleaning out some flood-related papers in my home office and I came across something I would have used in a thank-you speech if I had been called upon to deliver one.

Thankfully the fraternity runs a tight awards ship and I was not called upon to ramble on and on as the rest of the guests started staring at the ceiling. But here’s what I would have said:

“I feel kind of like I’ve won an Oscar and I have just prepared a few brief notes. Only the notes I have are from 3 1/2 years ago.

Preston note 1“Among the notes scribbled on an envelope as CRC was collecting tools to help homeowners whose houses were damaged in the flood was an emphatic outlined note to ‘Call Preston.’ I’m sure the next sentence, if there were one, would have been: Need help from his fraternity.

“And this:

Preston note 2“Confirm appointments with homeowners…Preston…propane hot water heaters. More flood stuff that required Preston’s attention (at least according to me).”

Omega Psi Phi recognized CRC with an award because of the flood, I’m sure, and a few other things we’ve helped them with, the latest being new shoes for children at John Early Magnet Middle School.

Here’s Preston again, getting ready to take the shoes to those beautiful children who had come to school without any. We would not have known about this need had it not been for Omega Psi Phi, which mentors students at the school.

Preston Bailey of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity with donated shoes from Genesco

Preston Bailey of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity with donated shoes from Genesco

The principles Omega Psi Phi lives by are Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift. Preston is as humble a man as I have ever known and he will cringe when he sees the attention I’m paying to him right now.

But he embodies all those qualities his fraternity holds so dear. And we’re so honored to be a part of his and all of his fraternity brothers’ lives.

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