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"Family of the Year"
for Outstanding Community Service

RENO, NEV. ( Nov. 15, 2007 ) – Twelve members of a Fairbanks , Alaska family have been recognized by the National Grange as “Family of the Year” for their outstanding service to community and nation. The award was presented here at the National Grange’s 141st National Convention, following the organization’s long-term tradition of honoring family service and achievements.

The extended family of Donald and Alice McKee of Fairbanks , Alaska received the award at a special “Evening of Excellence” at the Nugget Hotel in suburban Sparks , Nevada . The family holds membership in Two Rivers and North Star Granges in the rural Fairbanks area.

Following World War II, Donald and Alice McKee, already Grange members in Minnesota , homesteaded to a new community in rural Alaska . They organized local Granges, and began their half-century of community outreach and service. As their family grew, the McKees organized to get an elementary school in the area, formed a 4-H club, joined the elections board, served on the Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation Board and local ASCS committee, created community playgrounds and ball fields, adopted a local rural road, and helped build a headquarters for the Two Rivers Rescue Squad.

“We homesteaded on a parcel of land 25 miles from Fairbanks ,” Alice McKee remembers. “We had no electricity, no running water, and no school. The closest neighbors were five miles away, and the closest school was 25 miles away in Fairbanks . We helped organize a school, and I was appointed agent. Our local Grange built shelters for the children, and we also helped build a local church. We worked to get electricity, a road, and an elections precinct to avoid a 45-mile drive to vote. We taught our children how to work with others, and to teach others in public service.”

Alice McKee sums up her life-long community service this way: “My family can teach others how to work with other people, the joy of gaining new friends by working with them, the satisfaction of doing a good turn to someone, and the satisfaction of reaching out to others.” For that, she and her family were named “Family of the Year.”

Two other outstanding Grange families were also recognized at the “Evening of Excellence” for their combined service. The Warren Chamberlain family of Holliston, Massachusetts, and the Lother Dixon family of Arcadia, North Carolina were honored by their fellow Grange members. The five-member Chamberlain family work with their local social services, youth drug prevention program, and as volunteers with a dozen local organizations. The four members of the Dixon family deliver flowers to shut-ins, work with the Better Business Bureau, assist local youth, and help in the community.

The National Grange is the nation’s oldest agricultural and rural communities organization, and has evolved to incorporate the interests of non-farm rural families and communities, as well as the traditional interests of family farmers and ranchers. It has nearly 300,000 members in 2,800 state, local, and grassroots chapters across 37 states. Additional information about the organization’s positions is available from : pweller@agriwashington.org.

Local Story in Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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