After decades of giving back to the community, McLeod receives a prestigious award
● By Steven Hoffman
During the Spirit of Giving Luncheon on Jan. 15, Jim McLeod, one of the organizers of the event, talked about the importance of teaching young people about the value of giving back to the community.
Giving back is a subject that McLeod knows a lot about: He has been serving the Oxford community in a variety of ways for decades, starting before he even graduated from high school. Through the years, McLeod has done everything from serving on Oxford Borough task forces to sitting on a wide variety of nonprofit boards to organizing the Oxford community’s annual Halloween Parade. The Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce is recognizing McLeod’s decades of service by naming him as the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award. He will receive the award at the chamber’s annual dinner on Friday, Feb. 16.
“Jim McLeod is an exemplary example of community service,” said Cheryl Kuhn, the president of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, when the award was announced. “His tireless work in our community and his ability and desire to bring people together to work toward a common goal is truly outstanding. We are proud to select him as this year’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year award recipient and look forward to honoring him at our 51st Annual Dinner.”
McLeod, the executive director of the Oxford Senior Center for the last 15 years, said that he appreciates the award.
“I am honored and humbled,” he said. “The announcement took me completely by surprise. My thanks to everyone involved for this honor. It is truly appreciated.”
Those who know McLeod say that the award is very much deserved.
His daughter, Shelley Meadowcroft, said that when she and her brother were growing up, they knew that their father would always be willing to help out an organization in need if it meant that the Oxford community would be better off.
“Growing up, my dad was out at least one or two nights a week helping some group,” Meadowcroft explained. “Some people find their niche and help out one organization, but he volunteered with groups that touched on many different facets of the community. He taught us that being a part of a community means giving back to the community. Our mom was the same way―always doing things to help out.”
One of the organizations nearest and dearest to McLeod's heart is the Oxford Neighborhood Services Center, which is the beneficiary of the aforementioned Spirit of Giving Luncheon. McLeod served two terms on the Neighborhood Services Center's board of directors, and he and his wife, Mary, started the Spirit of Christmas Luncheon as a way to raise funds for the organization at a time of the year when people in the community needed the most help. The event evolved into what is known today as the Spirit of Giving Luncheon.
Through that effort and many others, McLeod has become well known for his service to the community.
“Jim has spent his life working to make Oxford a better place to live. That is evident by the long list of organizations he has been involved in, and continues to work with,” said Steve Roberts, the president of the Oxford Educational Foundation. “When you want to know how to get something done in Southern Chester County, or who to talk to about an issue, Jim is the first person to see.”
Roberts credited McLeod with helping him in his volunteer role as president of the Oxford Educational Foundation.
“Jim was the president of the Oxford Educational Foundation for seven years, and when he decided he could no longer continue in the position, I became the president,” Roberts explained. “He was a big help to me as I learned that role, and he continues to provide good advice.”
McLeod said that it was his father, Donald McLeod, who really set an example for him to follow when it came to community service.
“Dad was active with a number of service clubs in the area, including the Oxford Rotary Club,” McLeod explained.
McLeod followed that lead and started volunteering while he was still in high school. He summed up his attitude about community service by saying, “If I saw that there was a need, I would try to help with it.”
He was a founding board member of the Jennersville YMCA of Greater Brandywine, serving for 30 years, including two terms as chairman. He oversaw fundraising and building for the Jennersville YMCA.
In 2014, McLeod was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Oxford Area School District for longstanding service, including a memorial scholarship that was established in memory of his wife, and is presented each year to a graduating Oxford Area High School senior. He served on school district committees studying truancy and drop-out rates, served on the first Board of Directors of Oxford Educational Foundation, an organization that was started in 1994 for mentors and tutors, and to provide grants to bring innovative programs not funded through the budget. He also served as president of the Oxford Educational Foundation for seven years.
He is a member of the Fulton Bank Brandywine Division Advisory Board and has also served with the Oxford Rotary for 28 years.
Involvement in the Oxford Rotary is one of the ways that Dr. Raymond Fischer got to know McLeod so well through the years.
“I have known Jim for well over twenty-five years as both a friend and a colleague,” explained Fischer, the executive director of the Oxford Educational Foundation and a former superintendent of schools at Oxford. “As a lifelong resident of Oxford, Jim has shown his dedication to the community through his involvement in its many organizations. Jim is a willing, intentional volunteer who exemplifies the Rotary motto 'service above self.'”
McLeod served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Automotive Association, and was appointed to the association's Legislative Committee. He served on Ford Motor Company Zone Dealer Council, representing Ford dealers in Pennsylvania and Delaware. He served nine years as chairman of American Red Cross Chester County Brandywine Division Disaster Action Team, assisting displaced fire victims. He sits on the Board and is Development Chairman of the Southern Chester County Emergency Medical Services and eight years on the SCCOOT Board. McLeod joined various Oxford Borough task forces, Police Chief Search Committees, chaired the Borough's Vacancy Board and was Chairman of the Civil Service Commission. He served on the Pennsylvania Legislative District 13 Advisory Board, Chester County Department of Aging's Paratransit Advisory Council, and was for a time the chairman of Oxford Area Regional Sewer Authority. He served on the Board of Directors of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce, including two terms as president, and in 1986 was recipient of the Oxford Area Community Service Award. For the past 34 years, he organized the Chamber's annual Halloween Parade. He is a member of the Oxford Presbyterian Church and served as an Elder and Deacon with the church. He is a member of the Oxford Athletic Association and served two terms as president.
Meadowcroft said that her father has always made a point to talk about the importance of giving back to the community. When McLeod was named as a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Oxford Area School District, he talked about the value of community service during the speech.
While McLeod is pleased to be receiving an award from the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, he emphasized that, “I don't do any of these things for recognition.”
His friends are very pleased that he is getting the recognition after so many years of giving back to the community.
“I am honored to be associated with him, and I am 'Oxford Proud' that he has been chosen Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce 2017 Citizen of the Year,” said Fischer.