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Good morning.  My name is Marc McCarthy and I was humbled to receive this award last year.  However, admittedly, at the time, I didn’t really spend much time thinking about the background to the award. I suppose I was still in bliss from the strawberry shortcake!

I later discovered, about 6 weeks ago, one of the greatest aspects of receiving the award is the process of convening past award recipients to speak about prospective recipients. Generally, when men are together, they most often speak about sports, kids, health, money, ways to play golf, travel but rarely about how much they love each other and why. Suffice it to say, it was really a wonderful experience. We are blessed. Not only to see how deep a bench of dedicated service minded folks we have, but also to hear folks talk about the many unnoticed things they do, both past and present….I didn’t know Wally Owens, but he must have been quite a man to have this award named after him.  As I think about what a service award embodies, it is less about the big things and more about the person who steps up,… over and over again in a selfless way for the betterment of the St James community.

Tom Finlan embodies that service dedication in so many ways and is this year’s recipient. Congratulation Tom.  Since getting introduced to St James eight years ago by his then fiancée, Ocean Mills, I remember he immediately got involved and several of us had the benefit of getting to know him as we reformed the finance committee together in 2017 to finally get things in order. It was a stressful time for the church. Suffice it to say, things were messy, and boy are we in a better place today!  He went on to join the vestry as treasurer and actively extended his involvement in all things St James to Less.  But Tom is much more than a finance guy (ok, he’s an accountant by day but he leaves the HP12C at the office)! He is a reader, greeter, usher, confirmation sponsor and has done a wonderful job restarting the Men of St James with John McNally and helping with the nursery school. When you meet Tom, you immediately know he will step up… and you can have confidence it will be done well.  It comes across immediately…it’s never a “why?”, it’s just “how can I help”.  Whether its cooking bacon or lifting tables for the Midnight Run, making wonderful cocktails at the many wonderful fellowship events Tom and Ocean have held at their home, Tom goes out of his way to help and give of himself to others. He has done this continuously over the years and I know its what we can expect into the future.  This is what I and the rest of us believe the Wally Owens award is all about and not surprising the committee selected him unanimously.

I’ve really enjoyed this process as I’m sure you will, next year. Tom, you are a good friend to all of us and St James the Less is blessed to have you. On behalf of the past recipients, we welcome you, and present the 2024 Wally Owens Distinguished Service Award.