MURRAY — Mary Scott Buck started the Calloway County Collective a little less than a year ago out of a desire to help people find necessities that had become difficult to locate in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She had no idea it would grow so much. It has become part of Murray-Calloway County’s landscape, having started very small, then growing enormously. Where it started with her using her own money, it became a situation where fellow residents of the community where she was born and raised joined in the cause and contributed their own donations.
It became a movement in a place with a long history for such causes going from grass roots to mainstream. And now, having performed most of her work as a facilitator via social media, she is being asked to come into the spotlight, so she can be recognized.
That had happened last week. First, she was one of three residents to receive the inaugural Extra Mile Hero honor, a national award that both Murray Main Street Inc. and the City of Murray pushed in obtaining nominations. That was a surprise, she said.
But it was not over. The Rotary Club of Murray was next and unveiled that it was presenting her with the Service Above Self Humanitarian honor for 2020, an honor the club has handed out for many years, its recipients having been some of the most influential in the community’s history of volunteerism.
“I just want to say thank you so much. This is such an honor,” Buck said, as she spoke through happy tears during a ceremony at the Main Street office downtown. “I’m always a little emotional about (the Collective), but this is such an honor. It is and has been such an endeavor, and a lengthy one, but I’m sure I won’t shy away.
“I don’t shy away, that’s for sure.”
Rotary Club member Kelly Forrester said the Volunteer of the Year honor was a bit late in coming to Buck due to the pandemic.
“We usually have a banquet but (in 2020), we were unable to host that and invite our winner,” Forrester said. “But we are so grateful for everything our recipient has done for Murray and Calloway County and are happy to be finally recognizing her today.
“Our Rotary Club felt very strongly about what she has done for our community and we received many nominations for her for this award. Mary Scott Buck organized a Facebook page for her organization, and the Calloway County Collective is a small endeavor that became a very large undertaking, but she did not shy away. She recruited volunteers and started making connections and continues to work to make sure all of our community members have what they need to get through this pandemic.
“When starting the Calloway County Collective, she used her own money to purchase things like medical gloves, face masks and disinfectants.Then, when it became too much, people donated funds to pay for those items, but it all started because Mary saw a need in this community, confirming that everyone has something to eat and has proper equipment for fighting off the virus and she has been making sure that no one is left behind.”
That Buck would find her way into community service probably should not be surprising. Her father is Pat Scott, who served many years with the Murray Fire Department, including a long stretch as its chief, as well as a tenure on the Murray City Council.
“In the beginning of the pandemic, people were unable to find things in the stores, so I created a Facebook group that essentially helped people find things, like toilet paper and things like that,” Buck said. “So we gave updates about availability of supplies in the stores. Then, once the shutdown began and people began losing their jobs, we helped with needs.
“We started helping with food because there were people who lost their jobs with no notice and had no savings and they had no credit cards. We actually had masks made for people or developed our own hand sanitizer and, since then, we’ve done quite a few other things and it’s just grown and grown.”
Before the pandemic, Buck was running her own designer jewelry business.
Murray Main Street Program Manager Deana Wright is also a Rotary member and said that the award given to Buck is based on a long-standing Rotary philosophy.
“Rotary’s official mottos are ‘Service Above Self’ and ‘One Profits Most Who Serves the Best.’ These mottos date back to the early days of Rotary service,” Wright said. “‘Service Above Self’ was inspired in 1911 at the second convention of the National Association of Rotary Clubs. During that convention, the president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Ben Collins, talked with a Seattle Rotarian about the proper way to organize a Rotary Club, offering the principle his club had adopted, ‘Service Not Self.’ (Rotary founder) Paul Harris joined the convention and asked Collins to address the convention and ‘Service Not Self’ was met with great enthusiasm.”
The motto would be adjusted twice, the final time coming in 1989. The Murray club has given a volunteer award, which goes to a non-Rotarian, every year since 1982.
“The list of past recipients includes a who’s who of our community’s dedicated volunteers. Local Rotarians have the opportunity to nominate someone they feel is deserving of this honor and a committee was formed,” Wright said, adding that requirements include that the recipient be a resident of Murray or Calloway County, demonstrate great humanitarian service with an emphasis on helping others through personal volunteer efforts and that the services rendered should be on a continuing basis.
“I really do think, and I’m sure there were, many people who were deserving of that award,” Buck said. “I’m still a bit shocked about that one and I am thankful for it. I do appreciate it and I do recognize what an honor it is.”