Pam Bennett Martin’s toast of Harrison County
Corydon businesswoman Pam Bennett Martin of New Salisbury was toasted and roasted to a blushing shade of pink Friday night at Blue River Services’ annual dinner and ‘roast’ at Old Capital Golf Club in Corydon.
‘I’m overwhelmed,’ Martin said, while greeting well-wishers at the close of the event, ‘and very uncomfortable.
‘I don’t like being in the limelight.’
Blue River Services, which provides a host of community related programs and jobs for the region’s disabled adults, was also ‘overwhelmed.’ About 130 people attended and nearly $15,000 was raised for the agency from corporate table sponsors, individual contributions and a silent auction of donated items.
In closing remarks, Evelyn McPherson, master of ceremonies and director of community relations and fund development for BRS, read Merriam Webster’s Dictionary definition of a philanthropist, as a person who promotes goodwill and human welfare.
McPherson added: ‘My own definition of a philanthropist is Pam Bennett Martin.
‘We admire you, Pam,’ she said. ‘You have made our community a better place.’
Former YMCA of Harrison County executive director Catherine Turcotte reminded the gathering of Martin’s involvement in nearly every philanthropic cause, worthwhile event or project that has taken place in Harrison County, including the Y, and the many boards she has chaired, such as the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County and the Southern Indiana Community Foundation.
‘We asked her to serve as the capital campaign chairman,’ Turcotte said, adding that Martin’s involvement was ‘pivotal’ to the success of the project.
‘We were nobodies,’ Turcotte said. ‘We didn’t have connections.’
Martin gave the project credibility, and more, and the financial campaign was a success.
‘Pam made calls. Pam prayed. Pam organized,’ Turcotte said. ‘Pam is never just a name on a letterhead.
‘She goes above and beyond.’
Denise Orwick, Martin’s best friend since grade school, said, ‘She gives and gives and goes and goes.
‘Her energy is boundless.’
Orwick thanked Martin for her service to the community, and ‘for being my best friend.’
By this time in the program, Martin appeared as usual, self-assured and relaxed. Then her brother-in-law, Mark Davidson, stepped to the podium and brought down the house.
Trust me. You don’t want to know.
Then he continued, this time with comments about the nice notes his sister-in-law (of Bennett and Bennett Insurance fame) is known to send. ‘The only note I ever got from Pam was, ‘Pay your insurance!’
‘And thanks for not letting Pam cook,’ Davidson told event planners.
Otherwise, Davidson would have had the only thing Martin knows how to cook, he said, a broccoli casserole, instead of the tender roast beef, grilled chicken and vegetables, dinner rolls and a tempting array of desserts, served by the club.
Davidson also came up with poster-size pictures, several taken during Pam’s childhood, for the crowd to enjoy.
Lastly, currying favor with the sister-in-law, Davidson went on to explain that anyone who becomes a friend of Pam’s has a friend for life. ‘She will be there for you, in person or in spirit,’ Davidson said.
He needn’t have worried. No one in the room laughed harder than the honoree.
Others who spoke were David and Pam’s two sons, Brent and Doug Martin, Chamber director Barbara Middleton and Pam’s parents, Floyd (Bud) and Betty Bennett of Corydon.
For instance, did you know the honoree won $5 in a singing contest when she was 5; that the family moved from Navilleton to Corydon in 1968, when she was in fifth grade; and that Pam so wanted to be a cheerleader but didn’t make it? And that she was so competitive, if she didn’t win at Monopoly, she’d cry?
‘She hated to lose,’ said her father. ‘She believes if you can do more, you should. That’s what Pam’s been all about,’ he said.
The crowd stood as Pam Bennett Martin took the podium. ‘I’m honored, to say the least,’ she said. ‘Especially that Blue River thought I could raise some money for them.
‘Talk about what I’ve done? Look at what Blue River has done!
‘They give life to folks who otherwise might not have the experiences that you and I do. They give people hope and opportunity,’ Martin said. ‘It’s amazing what they make happen in this community.’