SALEM – One of the first things Cabell Brand did years ago when he started into business was to join the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce.
On March 30, the chamber gave back to him. The 87-year-old Salem resident was named the first recipient of the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award, in a surprise announcement at the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce’s 76th annual dinner.
His award, the first of its kind the chamber presented, came at the conclusion of the chamber’s dinner at The Hotel Roanoke.
The keynote speaker was another can-do man, United States Senator Jim Webb, who received a standing ovation for his efforts to reach across the aisle and to work for bi-partisan support to get bills passed. One of his first was full benefits for military who have served since 9/11.
Brand and his wife Shirley made their way slowly to the front of the room, each leaning on a walking stick, against a background of applause from the almost 300 people attending the event. After accepting the award from Carey Harveycutter, a member of the chamber’s board of directors, Brand took the dais to thank the chamber for the honor.
Then he planted a gentle kiss on his wife’s forehead.
Harveycutter pointed out Brand had probably done more for people in need during his long career of volunteerism and public service than anyone else in the Roanoke Valley.
Brand founded Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke in 1965. It’s a community action agency that provides job training, home winterization, Head Start early childhood education and much more to give low-income people tools to improve their lives.
A canny businessman, Brand transformed his family’s business, Ortho-Vent Shoe Company into Stuart McGuire, and then into a direct sales and mail order-sales business which ultimately became the Home Shopping Network.
He started promoting rainwater recycling before “green” became an ecological inspiration. Brand has served on more boards than most people can remember.
More recently, he founded the Cabell Brand Center for International Poverty & Resource Studies. His 2008 book, called, “If Not Me, Then Who?” is subtitled: “How You Can Help with Poverty, Economic Opportunity, Education, Healthcare, Environment, Racial Justice and Peace Issues in America.” In it he explains his philosophy which has led him to brush shoulders with such internationally known greats as former President Jimmy Carter and other heads of state from the United States and abroad.
Brand’s award came as the conclusion of a night of awards. They were:
• Dr. Tom Fame, Citizen of the Year for his selfless work in Haiti for more than five years;
• Judy Griesenbrock Award posthumously to former chamber president Ted Arven who died in February;
• Ambassador of the Year Tim Ferguson;
• Roanoke County Police Officer Officer Darin Hogan;
• Salem Police Officer of the Year Officer Sean Slusser;
• Roanoke County of the Year Betty Semones, who teaches at William Byrd High School; and
• Salem Educator of the Year Chris Wilkes, band director at Andrew Lewis Middle School and assistant band director at Salem High School.
For details on those awards, see next week’s April 8 issue of the Salem Times-Register.