MARCO ISLAND — Steve Stefanides, chairman of Christmas Island Style, thought it was his night to honor others. But in ceremonies on Sunday during Christmas Island Style’s Holiday Gala, he received special recognition of his own.
Stefanides was named Marco Island’s 2011 Volunteer of the Year for his work on more than 20 events created to give residents a wonderful holiday season. The awards gala was sponsored in part by the Naples Daily News Group including the Marco Eagle. Communities Editor Penny Moore Fisher presented the award.
Stefanides was a major planner for the Marco Island Seafood Festival and a moving force behind the development of Veterans’ Memorial Park. He played a role in planning this week’s viewing of the Wall that Heals, a 3/5 scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., on display in the park from Dec. 7-10.
He serves on the boards of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation and the Greater Marco Family YMCA, and is a member of Marco Island’s Sunrise Rotary, Marco Island’s Police Foundation and the Marco Riders.
Debra Sanders, who works on many of the same boards and events, shared her insights when nominating Stefanides.
“If Steve can help, he’s the first one to offer,” she wrote. “He quietly reaches into his pocket to support island organizations financially and doesn’t care about being given credit for any of it.”
Christmas Island Style events include the Christmas tree lighting Friday that drew more than 3,000 participants, the boat parade, street parade, numerous children’s activities and house decorating contests.
“When it comes to Christmas Island Style,” Sanders wrote, “Steve is in the middle of it all making sure everything is running smoothly.”
The Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce honored Bill Morris with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by past recipients Pat Neale, Tom Wagor and Craig Woodward.
Morris has been a resident of Collier County since 1983 and is a local attorney. He was a founding board member for Marco Island’s unit of the American Cancer Society and a founding member of Marco Island’s Foundation for the Arts.
Previously, he received an award for Outstanding Chapter President from Florida’s Jaycees, a division of the U. S. Junior Chamber. He is a board member or legal advisor for many Marco Island organizations, and offers free estate planning for Marco Island’s police officers and firefighters.
“Almost everyone on Marco Island has been touched by some good work Bill has done,” said Sandi Riedemann-Lazarus, executive director of the chamber.
Morris is married to Pegilee and has seven children, five of whom were adopted. The two have been foster parents since 2004, taking in more than a dozen children in crisis.
Their adopted children were abuse victims removed by the courts from their natural parents.
Morris also works with Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, an organization that helps abused and neglected children in conjunction with Family Preservation Services.
“Bill is a quiet and humble man whose focus on helping the Marco Island Community and children of this county are unquestioned,” Pegilee Morris said.