Guests taking their seats at the Humanitarian Awards Dinner. 

At the end of Catholic Community Services' 2013 Humanitarian Awards Dinner last week, Imam Mohammed Shoayb reminded guests “How we change the lives of others is what we take with us.”  

CCS annual event included locals of different faiths and backgrounds together in a setting that encouraged inspiration. There was no sense of pride or competition behind these awards, only humility and gratitude. The dinner was provided by the Little America Hotel, but the expressions on guests’ faces revealed their hunger for human connection and sharing of stories.

Frank Layden, retired coach and executive of the Utah Jazz, told some of the best stories that night, from being mistaken for LaVell Edwards to the struggles his second generation Irish father went through in America. He and his wife, Barbara, were named Humanitarians of the Year. In accepting this award, Layden said, “It’s so gratifying to have an award like this. But you know what? I don’t think we deserve it. We just try to do the right thing. We had a lot of privileges. Why wouldn’t we want to share those?”

CCS also recognized the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the University of Utah Lowell Bennion Community Service Center.

Armani McFarland

The last award of the night went to Armani McFarland, a confident 10 year old with bouncing blond curls. She went up to the podium to accept her Unsung Hero award bursting with excitement. Listing off her collections of canned food, backpacks full of supplies, stuffed animals, and coats for Utahns in need, this girl is ready for more. Unlike many girls her age, Armani has a passion for helping others. “God wants us to help those who can’t help themselves," she says. "If it’s just you, or if you have the help of friends, you can make a difference."

At the end of her speech, after thanking the people who helped her with her projects, Armani added, “Even if you don’t have time or money, give someone a smile.” Right on cue, she looked up and gave one of the biggest and most sincere smiles.

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