A former board president for the Van Buren Boys and Girls Club said executive director Cindy Faldon "plants seeds every day in the lives of our children and youth."

"Van Buren will benefit from the ‘shade’ she produces through the changed lives of our children and youth," wrote Jim Petty is his letter of recommendation for Faldon’s nomination for the Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year Award.

"Cindy has been a steady rock for the club and the kids we serve for many, many years and has a real heart for seeing them become confident, productive citizens," Petty said. "You need only see the response of the kids when they see her coming to know how they feel about her."

Petty said the youth staff at the club also is impacted by Faldon’s mentoring.

Her leadership has been reflected by increased donations from within the community in support of the club and the culmination of a $600,000 addition to the club in 2012 for a new teen center and other much-needed classroom space.

Club benefactor Richard Hodo said "Cindy’s commitment to get things done and done right" along with her "willingness to work alongside the board of directors" was the "catalyst for gaining the monies" that he and his wife Helen donated to the club.

Debbie Foliart, who prepared the nomination, said Faldon has a passion for the kids of the community as well as a hands-on attitude. Foliart quoted Cindy as saying:

"You hear about these serious situations that kids are in, but until you see it face-to-face, it’s just a statistic."

Foliart said Faldon has played a vital role as a non-profit leader in preparing a place for the kids in the community to learn to be leaders for what is becoming a very difficult world to grow up in.

"Her fortitude and commitment along with passion have given her what is needed to work with the business community to grow what began in 1958 as a club focused mainly on sports to be a more purposeful driven and expanded facility for a true mission for the development of those children that take advantage of the facilities of today," Foliart said.

Foliart said she has worked along Faldon in the Van Buren Kiwanis Club.

"Anybody can see the passion she has for getting things done," Foliart said. "Her energy and what to get it done are contagious. She is someone that you absolutely want on your team."

Club staff member Dawn Winford said Faldon goes above and beyond to ensure that the youth in the community are prepared to become the best person they can be.

"She has a true passion for reaching out and changing her community and the youth she helps to serve," Winford said. "Cindy has worked countless hours and gives her time freely to ensure that every club member feels like they have a safe and fun environment."

Faldon works very hard on campaigns and fundraisers to provide the youth with the best possibilities to become future leaders, Winford said.

"Cindy put into motion and carried out a plan to expand our facility and give our club members the space they deserve," she said.

Winford said Faldon takes the time out of her busy scheduled to get to know each face of every child and give them a sense of belonging.

"She listens to them talk about their day and helps them if they have a problem or just want to be heard," Winford said.

Petty said it might be a long time before Van Buren knows the impact Faldon has had on the community through the lives of its youth.

"But as they say, ‘you plant a tree today so the next generation can enjoy the shade,’ " Petty said.