MARQUETTE - Marquette business owner Michele Butler listened, surprised, as Evergreen Award Steering Committee Chairwoman Pam Stewart described Butler's life.
Butler's friends had told her another person had won the prestigious award, and asked her to help them convince this person to attend the luncheon Monday
"Needless to say, I was thinking, 'Wait a minute, this is wrong,'" Butler said.
From left, long-time friends June Schaefer and Michele Butler hug as Butler heads to the stage to accept the 2013 Evergreen of Marquette County Award during the award luncheon Monday on Northern Michigan University’s campus. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
Seated behind a table of previous Evergreen recipients, Butler received more than a few stolen glances as Stewart described Butler's work in establishing a YMCA program in Marquette, working with the U.P. 200, United Way, Habitat for Humanity and countless other charitable organizations.
Butler was also lauded as a successful long-time business owner in the area who has helped others expand their businesses into the successful ventures they are today.
"In the early '90s, I had the privilege of working for the recipient and I can tell you that she never quits," Stewart said. "If she is asking you to give 100 percent, it's because she knows you can even if you haven't realized it yet - and she knows because she's given twice as much herself."
As she realized the ruse that had been played out for her benefit, Butler hung her head and smiled.
"It's a great honor," Butler said at the conclusion of the luncheon, which took place in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center at Northern Michigan University. "I'm more of a behind-the-scenes type of person, so it's very humbling when you are brought out into the public in that type of situation."
Established in 2007, the Evergreen Award of Marquette County is presented annually to someone who has assisted and/or mentored women and girls in reaching their leadership potential; demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative in their business, profession and/or volunteerism; and provided exceptional service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community.
Each year, a $1,000 scholarship is also awarded to someone who has provided "valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others" and has decided to further his or her own education. This year's scholarship recipient was Amy Peterson.
The Evergreen Award of Marquette County is organized annually by the Zonta Club of Marquette.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.