The Lawrence J. Sena Award for Excellence in Community Service was presented for the first time as several community members were honored last month in the City Hall Council Chambers.

City of Las Animas Mayor Jim Collins summed up the thoughts of most of the room at the opening remarks of the Award Ceremony with these words; “As a leader, there are days when it seems that there isn’t enough money in the world to make the stress worth it, and then there are days that you wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world. This was one of those days.” He also summed up his own thoughts by explaining that in his career he had been personally awarded a number of awards, had recommended an even bigger number of awards, and had presented a large number as well, but there is something special about creating an award for a great community leader, especially when that same great leader is still around to both receive the award, and to proudly present the award to great community leaders himself.

This was the atmosphere in the City Hall Council Chambers last month when three great community leaders were present to first unveil the Lawrence J. Sena Award for Excellence in Community Service in honor of the over 35 years of selfless service that former Mayor Sena gave for this community as an educator, commissioner and mayor. The room was filled with people who had been impacted in great ways by Mayor Sena in at least one of these capacities, but more often than not by more than one.

Mayor Sena accepted the award, and gave a few words to thank the audience and the City Leadership before presenting the first award to Miss Katie Peterson for her leadership in helping to create and fill the Youth Advisor Seat on the Las Animas City Council. Miss Peterson has provided valuable leadership in this position by informing the Leadership Team with information about positive opportunities for youth and adults to interact and strengthen this interaction throughout her term in this seat. She is now leaving and moving on to bigger and better things in her education and career. After receiving the honor, she gave a few words of thanks and was wished well in her future by everyone in the room.

Just prior to the June City Council Meeting, two more great community leaders were presented with the award by Mayors Collins and Sena. For their teamwork, leadership and willingness to go above and beyond their own safety and comfort, Council member Troy Abdulla and community member Rick Mata were presented with the awards. Mayor Collins spoke to the audience about times in all of our lives when something tragic had happened, and afterward we all wondered if there was something more that we could have done to prevent the tragedy. In this case, these two great leaders didn’t wonder if there was, they identified what it was that they could do and they did it, and directly because of their actions, a tragedy was averted and our community is stronger. Both of these great leaders took the time to thank the Leadership Team for considering them for the award and Mayor Sena for presenting the award to them as well.

The City Leadership Team was honored to participate in the award process and looks forward to the future opportunities to recognize Excellence in Community Leadership in this and other ways.