By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer
A story of helping others after tragedy and contributions of time, effort and money make the recipients of this year’s Eastern New Mexico Foundation awards stand out.
Late ENMU Regent and businessman Alva C. Carter Sr. is posthumously receiving the Volunteer of the Year award, while Super 8 motel has been selected as Business of the Year.
The family members of Frank Fort, an ENMU alumnus who died last year at age 36, are the Philanthropists of the Year.
Alva C. Carter Sr.
Carter took on challenges, worked hard and was dedicated to what was right, according to an ENMU news release. He served on the university Board of Regents, participated in dairy and peanut organizations and helped establish the first Portales girls softball league.
“Mr. Carter’s commitment to the university and his strong support of this community were well-known, and he will be sorely missed,” ENMU President Steven Gamble said.
Carter died in an automobile wreck last November.
“I would have to say Alva is one of those individuals who exemplified volunteering and taking a stand for causes one believed in,” ENMU Foundation Executive Director Noelle Bartl said.
Carter’s wife, Mary Helen, said she thought the award for her husband was fantastic.
“He would be so honored,” Mary Helen Carter said.
She said her husband did so much for the community.
Super 8 has contributed more than $23,400 to the ENMU Athletic Department over the past eight years, according to the ENMU release. Owners Sherry Mischel and Timothy Finlay have seven Super 8 motels in other places, and support those communities as well.
“We wanted to honor a local business that helped the university significantly and consistently, and Super 8 has been very generous with the Bench Club,” Bartl said.
Finlay said the award was exciting.
“It’s nice to be honored,” he said.
Super 8 donated because the owners saw ENMU as one of the major reasons to locate in Portales and because the university supported the motel, Finlay said.
After Frank Fort died of carbon monoxide poisoning, his family decided to memorialize him with a scholarship for ENMU early childhood education and family and consumer science students, according to the news release.
They gave $50,000 to establish the scholarship and committed to annual contributions.
Frank Fort had been very active at ENMU as a student. He spent most of his career as a leadership consultant or trainer.
Jan Fort, Frank’s mother, said her son loved people.
Bartl said the Fort family was chosen because of the uniqueness of their story of losing an outstanding student and professional and then establishing a scholarship that would honor him and impact other students.
Jan Fort said the whole family was very proud to receive the award and didn’t expect it.
“It was just in our minds to honor Frank, and he was a great person himself,” she said.