By Laura McAlister
Leadership Vestavia Hills has identified three more reasons that, the group says, make the city a great place to live.
The organization hosted the 23rd annual Vestavia Hills Citizens of the Year Banquet March 1 at the Vestavia Country Club.
Each year, the event recognizes two citizens and one group that make significant contributions to the community through volunteerism, generosity, fundraising and lifetime service.
Honored this year were Vestavia Hills High School coach Buddy Anderson for the Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Swaid N. Swaid for the Distinguished Citizen Award and Youth Leadership Vestavia Hills for the Outstanding Community and Corporate Support Award.
“The night is really about honoring people who really don’t look for the limelight,” said Penny Lewallyn, chairman of the Citizens of the Year committee. “They just go about their everyday lives, and they really touch so many people.
“This is our way of honoring them and showing them just how appreciative we are. These are the people who really do make Vestavia a better place to live.”
Coach Buddy Anderson
Buddy has been a coach at the high school for 40 years and has touched countless lives in the process, Penny said.
In addition to being the state’s winningest high school football coach – he has two state championships and two second place finishes – Buddy also has had a lasting impact on his players.
For years, he and his wife have opened their home for Bible study with team members.
“It’s really touching what his players say about him,” Penny said. “He has really put his stamp on their lives.”
Dr. Swaid N. Swaid
As a neurosurgeon, Swaid has impacted lives in a different way, but it’s been lasting just the same.
Internationally known for his skill and technique as a neurosurgeon, Swaid moved to the U.S. from the historic region known as Galilee when he was 15 to attend Harding University in Arkansas. After graduation, he began medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
As a neurosurgeon, he’s received numerous awards and honors and is a frequent speaker at medical seminars.
He’s also very active in his church, Homewood Church of Christ, where he is a Sunday school teacher, and in the Jefferson County Republican Party, which named him Republican Man of the Year in 2009.
Youth Leadership Vestavia Hills
Youth Leadership Vestavia Hills was formed in 2005 as a group project of Leadership Vestavia Hills.
The organization has the same mission as its parent organization in striving to develop leadership skills within the community. The youth program, however, is for high school students.
The goal was to include a variety of students with different backgrounds and interests. It also is not limited to students already in leadership roles.
High school students are introduced to the program during their freshman year, when they can apply to be in YLVH as sophomores. They also must have a teacher recommendation.
The members participate in a variety of activities throughout the year, starting with a retreat where they take part in group-building activities like rope climbing and group discussions.