For years, Tippi and Al Bevan have given generously of their time and energy to ensure that no one on the Island goes hungry.
Since 2006, the Bevans have managed the Food Pantry at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church and for the past 25 years, they have been delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors on the Island.
On Thursday, May 25, they will add another title to their list of achievements — the Shelter Island Lions Club’s 2017 Citizens of the Year.
Each year, the Lions Club presents the award to an Island resident (or residents) dedicated to improving the lives of others. Dr. Frank Adipietro, a board member of the Lions Club, explained the process for selecting award recipients.
“It’s been going on since 1977,” he said. “In the mid 2000s, we decided to form a citizenship committee — a subcommittee of the Lions Club board — which includes five people.”
Dr. Adipietro chairs the subcommittee, whose job is to streamline the candidate selection process for the award and get the request for nominations out to the community in a timely fashion. Residents are invited to nominate individuals for the award.
The nominees don’t have to be members of the club, but to be considered, they must be someone whose commitment to volunteer and service work on the Island is outstanding and beyond the scope of their regular professional life.
“The award is bigger than the people winning it. It’s for volunteerism in general,” Dr. Adipietro explained. “The fact you’re winning shows people that we, as Lions, value the work you do and it keeps volunteerism going. We get a list of candidates, discuss them, research them and bring our findings to the board. The final decision is made in March, then the awards dinner is in May.”
The Lions Club motto is “We Serve,” and Dr. Adipietro explained that members of the organization consider themselves a group whose primary mission is to help others. As a result, the “We Serve” philosophy is the guiding principle when it comes to selecting candidates for the Citizenship Award.
That description certainly describes the Bevans to a tee.
“Tippi and Al took this initiative on themselves and they have done this on a daily, weekly and annual basis for well over 10 years,” said Dr. Adipietro of their food pantry work. “This is the kind of citizenship and volunteerism we mean, serving the most basic need of all of us not to go hungry. It’s simple on the surface, but it’s a complex process, delivering and buying the food. It’s a lot of work, but it really serves a lot of people.”
Though the process of selecting the award winner is done in private, once the recipient has been chosen, the Lions Club informs him or her in person soon afterward. When asked what their reactions were when they learned they had been named Citizens of the Year, Al Bevans said, “Ian Weslek showed up at the house one night and told us. We looked at each other and said, ‘What?’”
“It was a shock,” Tippi added.
While the Bevans say they are honored to receive the award, they credit those around them for making it possible for them to continue their volunteer work year after year.
“The people of Shelter Island are the ones who keep us going — and the churches,” Tippi said. “People read the articles and I don’t even know them and they send us a check. You just keep shaking your head because it’s fantastic.
“We just go about doing our job and we don’t even think about honors and all that stuff,” she said. “It was a big surprise.”
When asked which of the two of them would be speaking at the awards ceremony next week, there was no room for debate.
“He’s more outgoing than I am,” Tippi said. “He did the plays at East Hampton High School.”
“I’d be better off out in front,” Al agreed.
“It’s going to be an interesting evening,” said Tippi. “It’s an honor and we like doing it — and we’ll keep doing it as long as we can.”
The Shelter Island Lions Club’s 2017 Citizens of the Year awards dinner is Thursday, May 25 at The Pridwin. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $45 and available at the Shelter Island Library.