Sam Harding (left) was the recipient of the 2023 Above and Beyond the Call award Tuesday, March 28 during a ceremony at the Greene County High School. He's pictured with 2022 winner, Sid Jones.  BRANDON HURLEY | JEFFERSON HERALD

THE HOUSES SAM BUILT: Local contractor, humanitarian Sam Hardin awarded 2023 Above and Beyond the Call award

By Brandon Hurley
Managing Editor

Sam Harding never forgot the pledge he made many years ago.

He committed to serving others, and has refused to slow down, helping strengthen and build a thriving community, culminating in historic achievement.
The 2023 Jefferson Matters: Main Street and Chamber Community Above and Beyond the Call award was presented to Harding during a community appreciation night Tuesday, March 28 at the Greene County High School. The honor, dating back more than 30 years, recognizes residents “who through their personal involvement, their leadership qualities and their unselfish giving of time and talent, have positively affected activities or accomplishments beneficial to the community at large,” according to the Jefferson Matters: Main Street website.

Many of the nomination forms and guest speakers mentioned Harding’s continued commitment to others, specifically his dedication to the Greene County youth. His life revolves around a studious upbringing, when he realized at a young age he was meant to help.

“They taught me to have a heart to serve people,” Harding said, fighting through tears Tuesday. “That’s what I do, and I’ve always done that. It’s just part of who I want to be.
I’m very humbled by this.”

That’s why as Sid Jones listed off the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law Tuesday night inside the Greene County High School auditorium (Harding is, of course, an Eagle Scout), Harding could be seen physically counting them off. He remembers his past, a person that wants to see others succeed.  

He’s loyal, he’s trustworthy, he’s no doubt a helpful person, he’s friendly to everyone, of course he’s courteous and obedient, cheerful and no doubt thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
The 2023 Jefferson volunteer of the year never lost sight of his true purpose.
Harding’s fingerprints are all over town, serving many decades as a local contractor. From the new Greene County High School to the recently built multi-million dollar Children’s Center as a volunteer representative and the long-standing Webb House, he’s made it a goal of his to construct meaningful entities, serving the next generation.
Harding strove to build better lives for kids, never expecting any type of acknowledgement, watching youngster become impactful adults. He was visibly moved when he realized he was the newest award-winner, surprised at an entire room admiring his accomplishments.

The $35 million Greene County High School, complete with a state-of-the-art career academy, is Harding’s pride and joy. He spent 26 years as a school board member, making daily visits to various school buildings throughout the district, serving as the board president as well. He was the driving force behind the blueprints of the school, making sure no detail was left out.
Emotions overtook the former Greene County and Jefferson-Scranton school board member as he accepted the award Tuesday night, reflecting on an illustrious career.

“The best thing I ever had to do was to build this building,” Harding said on the high school auditorium stage. “They’re not joking, I was in every minute of this thing. I wanted to make sure it was built correctly, that we didn’t have any problems with it and it was built so the kids could learn.
I never dreamed we could build this.”

Harding’s commitment doesn’t stop at the high school level either. He was the architect behind the construction of the Webb House, which needed a new building in 2002. The facility has continued to serve youth of Greene County for the past 25 years. He also was instrumental in the design and building of the recently completed Children’s Center new the old Greene County Middle School, a state-of-the-art childcare facility now able to service most of the county.

“Sam (approaches construction) needs with sensitivity and concern with a kind and caring heart,” Jacque Andrew said during her induction speech Tuesday. “He thought of everything for the Children’s Center.”

Harding has served as a Rotarian since 1994, organizing and orchestrating the annual Bell Tower Festival parade while engineering the annual charity auction.
He’s been a vital volunteer for the Methodist Church, has spent hundreds of hours completing numerous Habitat for Humanity projects while also leading a handful of residents on important mission trips.
He is an asset to the community, strengthening it through generosity and passion.

“Sam’s is the kind of commitment that is truly at the heart of giving service above and beyond the call,” Andrew said. “We are so thankful for his generous spirit, which has touched our lives and for the good (he has) done for so many. Congratulations, sincerely, Sam, thank you so much for all you’ve done.”

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