CULVER -- Brian Pohl was honored as the Culver Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year.
Chamber member and owner of Lakehouse Grille Mark Damore read his biography, written by Brandy Pohl. “I may or may not have lobbied to present this award. There is no question that Brian is one of my closest friends. I am very honored to give this to Brian. You are certainly well deserving of this. I would love to take credit for this, but your lovely wife (Brandy) is the one who wrote this. So I am just the one who gets to read it. She is awfully nice to you in this (crowd laughs).”
The biography detailed Pohl’s volunteer efforts. “Brian Pohl is this year’s volunteer of the year. When Brian and Brandy moved backed to Brandy’s home town in 2011, Brian was not sure where his place in this community was. Everywhere they went, she ran into old classmates, teachers and people she knew. Everyone waved as they would drive by.”
“This was not something Brian was used to. He grew up in Fort Wayne and lived in Virginia Beach, Orlando and Columbus. It seemed like he didn’t know anybody. His seniority, or the lack thereof, with Southwest Airlines kept him working weekends and evenings. He was the odd man out when everyone else was working 9 to 5.
After going into Addison and Tyler’s pre-school classes in his pilot uniform and reading a book for career days, a seed was planted to take part in Southwest Airlines Adopt-a-Pilot program. Brian has been volunteering in Culver Elementary’s fifth grade classes doing the program for six years.
Before there was even an aviation vocational program at our high school, there was Brian, showing fifth grade students that what you learn in the classroom early is really applied to careers.
The Adopt-a-Pilot program doesn’t convince kids to be pilots. It focuses on the FLIGHT acronym.”
Really what this program does is have people thinking about what they want to do with their life and the steps that they have to take to get there.”
“As anyone in Culver knows, once you volunteer for one thing you are on ten committees. As Brandy became the box tops coordinator for the school’s PTO, Brian was offered up as a volunteer for box tops parties, book fair, Santa’s Workshop, and Spring Fling set-ups and tear downs.
From there, Brian joined the Kiwanis Club serving for four years and president for one. He could be seen collecting money for peanut day, selling Kiwanis raffle tickets for scholarship funding at Lake Fest and at Park n Shop. He also helped out with Cyclocross, Triathlon and Kiwanis golf outings. When PTO and Fall Fest needed a corn hole tournament lead, they called Brian.”
“We haven’t even gotten to the small roll that Brian has played in every festival. Along with many people in this room, he is a regular on tear down crews for Taste of Culver and Wine Fair, helping out anywhere he is needed including for Fall Fest.”
“So what does a typical day at Lake Fest look like when you are a volunteer? Selling Kiwanis raffle or golf tickets, helping your wife round up 20 watermelons for kids games, and even come to rescue to tow the Lake Fest Fireworks Barge.
Brian is well known for serving as President of Culver’s Little League for the last five years. Under his guidance, the little league secured a grant to get a new shed, new equipment and has converted our concession stand to take debit cards, and led our softball program to be the strongest it’s been in years.
Last year both 8 member and 10 member baseball won the championship.12 and under got runner up. All without raising player prices.”
While many people decide that they can volunteer for something based on their free-time schedule, Brian builds his monthly schedule around his commitments. What that means is, now Brian does have seniority with Southwest Airlines, in fact he is one of the highest rated first officers. What does he do? He works weekends so that he can be a part of baseball during the week. That is a true volunteer.”
The Pohl’s said they felt most themselves in a small town where they can contribute in creating a space somewhere in the gray. I can say that Brian as of nine years ago, being a newbie in Culver and not sure of his place is definitely not the man who sits here before us now.
He is a staple in this community and his contributions have made a great difference. The honor is well deserved. Brian, Congratulations.”