Reporter editorial: What we are capable of doing

We never had any doubt about the large number of people who offer their services to better Shelter Island and help their neighbors.

But it is heartening to be reminded of those facts as we were again this year choosing our Person of the Year.

It didn’t take us long to put together a list of worthy candidates. We asked you, our readers, to nominate those who could meet the criteria of Person of the Year.

With poignant emails, texts and phone calls, our readers were — as you always have been — the best judges of the character of individuals who populate our Island. The people you put forward for our award all met Mahatma Gandhi’s prescription on how to make a positive difference: “You must not lose faith in humanity. The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”

Every person nominated for our award is a thoughtful and committed citizen. But our candidates were not interested in changing the world.

Just making a difference on Shelter Island was more than enough for them.

However, it’s in the specific that you often find the universal. All the Islanders who were placed in nomination by friends, family, students or colleagues have made significant changes in people’s lives. They in turn have taken what they’ve learned and are carrying forward the ideals of commitment to community.

We heard of people like the teacher who went above and beyond to help a student become a better person, or the business owner who never stops giving back to the community, or the active citizen who influences town officials, or the senior who everyone looks to for wisdom. The Island is loaded with residents who work tirelessly to make our town a better place.

Our candidates came from all walks of life and were all ages, thanks to you. And a heartier thank-you must go to all who walk the extra mile to help others, who every day are unheralded persons of the year.

We live in a small place, but our hearts can match up with those living anywhere. With our choice of Brett Surerus, we have chosen someone who has always exemplified British author Simon Sinek’s belief that, “Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.”