by Barry Frost –
Michael Reagan, eldest son of the late President Ronald Reagan, was the featured speaker at The Salvation Army Orange County, Calif., advisory board’s annual “Spirit Awards” Civic Dinner held at the Hyatt Regency Irvine Hotel.
Reagan is a nationally syndicated talk show host. Daily, five million listeners hear his program, “The Very Independent Michael Reagan Show.” Author of several books, his latest, Twice Adopted, is based on his Christian testimony.
“In this inconsistent world, The Salvation Army remains consistent,” said Reagan during his witty and thought-provoking remarks to the 420 dinner guests. He spoke in endearing terms, remembering his father’s later twilight years when he said to him—“I love you,” while they hugged each other. Speaking again of The Army he mentioned, “God blesses you, because you bless God. You give hugs to many on a regular basis.”
The Spirit Awards program theme, “People Matter Most,” was punctuated by a patriotic decorative scheme of red, white and blue in the hotel ballroom. These awards, presented annually, are given for extraordinary service to others in Orange County and/or The Salvation Army.
Doy Henley, member of the advisory board, presented Sharon Morrison, past-chairman of the Orange County Advisory Board, the William Booth award for her many years serving on the advisory board and board committees.
The Others award honors extraordinary service to others benefiting the Army and/or Orange County communities. Dr. Don Schoendorfer, Santa Ana resident and founder of the Free Wheelchair Mission, received this award presented by David Threshie, newly inducted advisory board chair. Schoendorfer provides low-cost wheelchairs to be shipped around the world. Thus far, he and his team have produced over 57,000 wheelchairs for disabled men, women and children in 41 countries. His goal is a total of 20 million this decade.
Acknowledging her exceptional service by volunteering her time, talent and resources to improve lives in her community, Sara Piazza, past president of Orange County’s Women’s Auxiliary, was given the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Southern California Divisional Secretary of Program Major Steve Smith presented the Spirit of the Army Award to Angels Baseball President Dennis Kuhl. In accepting the award, Kuhl stated, “The Salvation Army is always there for youth and they get the job done.”
The evening program, MC’d by Ed Arnold, KOCE TV anchor, featured the Tustin Ranch Band, concert pianist David Dunford playing a medley based on American patriotic tunes, and a video titled “In Heaven’s Eyes.”
Christian recording artist Sandi Patti gave her permission to use her recording to visually portray not only needy ordinary people, but also the work of the Army among the most needy who are facing extraordinary challenges every day of their lives.
Tustin Ranch Corps Officer Major Michele Lescano gave the invocation and Major Lee Lescano, Tustin Ranch corps officer and Orange County coordinator gave the closing remarks and benediction.