Woman praised for service


Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 12:31 a.m.
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Katherine Pierce is the winner of the Rotary Club's 2004 Service Above Self Award.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
She's always had a knack for staying busy.
To Katherine Pierce, community service is a natural outlet to channel her energy.
Despite her job and other commitments, she's been happy to help - whether that means ringing a bell next to a supermarket collection pot, cooking meals for the needy or leading a charity fund-raiser.
For her devotion to service, Pierce received the Service Above Self award from the Rotary Club of Gainesville at the club's luncheon Tuesday.
"You don't do any of this by yourself," she said, after receiving the honor. "You have a network of people who are always helping you."
Pierce, 56, works as the senior vice president and chief financial officer of Environmental Consulting & Technology Inc., a Gainesville-based engineering firm she helped establish.
Pierce said she "was in awe" at receiving the award, which counts former University of Florida President J. Wayne Reitz and early childhood educator Bebe Fearnside among former recipients.
Fellow Rotary Club members lauded Pierce as a tireless volunteer and fund-raiser.
Earlier this year, she led the sponsorship campaign that collected a record $42,000 for the Wild Game Feast, a Rotary Club fund-raising event.
"She has a very busy schedule," said friend Elena Casson, an information specialist at UF. "She does all the volunteerism on her own time."
Casson works with Pierce as one of the Foundation Fryers, a local volunteer group that cooks meals and caters events on behalf of charity.
In August, the group went to Arcadia to assist residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley.
"We saw people who lost their homes and their jobs," Pierce said. "That's what really got me."
"When you reach out and you start helping people," she added, "it makes you feel better about it."
She estimated the group of 20 cooked about 1,000 meals.
"It's the whole Rotary concept based on service and helping others," said Pierce, a Rotary Club member since 2000.
Many weekends, Pierce will be found with a digital camera. Five years ago, Pierce discovered photography both as a hobby and as a way to raise money.
She takes nature pictures and sells them at art shows and on her Web Site, www.cureusdesigns.com. cq
All the money she makes goes to help the American Cancer Society, she said.
A favorite activity is to go to the beaches of Flagler County and photograph birds at sunrise, Pierce said. "It gives me peace," she said.
Helping raise money to support ACS has special meaning for Pierce.
In 1989, her mother died of lung cancer, she said. Her father died of colon cancer a year later and last year her sister-in-law died of breast cancer.
"It's my way of trying to fight the battle," she said. "To contribute to the cause."
Douane D. James can be reached at (352) 374-5087 or jamesd@gvillesun.com.

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