Auctioneers honored for volunteerism

Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2006

Norm Blakeley isn’t quite sure why he and his wife, Barb, were recently selected to receive a First Lady Volunteer Award for 2006, but a simple glance at the list of Kenai Peninsula organizations they’ve helped yields a possible answer.

Auctioneers by profession, the couple owns Blakeley’s Auction Co. on the Kenai Spur Highway in Soldotna, and they’ve helped a wide array of nonprofit groups with fundraising, from Habitat for Humanity, the Sterling Community Club, the Boy Scouts, Peninsula Winter Games, the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce, hockey programs and football programs.

“There’s hundreds of them,” said Norm Blakeley on Wednesday.

“We do a lot of things in the community, and we were nominated by someone; I don’t really know who,” he said, when asked how the couple was selected to receive one of 11 First Lady awards from Nancy Murkowski in Anchorage in April.

“I don’t think it was any one thing in particular we did,” he said.

Though not many people may have witnessed the Blakeley’s helping the smaller organizations, thousands have seen Norm in action during the annual summer Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik where he has served as auctioneer for 4-H kids selling livestock for 20 to 25 years.

Norm Blakeley helps “because those who don’t are missing out.”

“This is a great community and you have to give back. You can’t always take,” he said.

Married 11 years, each of the Blakeleys is quick to credit the other for their community service.

“Norm is the true volunteer of the family,” said Barb Blakeley.

“I do a few little auctions for the ladies at the Bible camp,” she said.

Both have been trained professionally in auctioneering in Billings, Mont., but Barb says Norm does most of the auctioneering.

“People don’t realize how hard it is,” she said.

“Barb does the clerking (for the auction company business), the hard stuff,” Norm said.

“I just do the fun stuff,” he said.

“We’re not alone,” said Barb, who also has been president of the Peninsula Winter Games for the past few years.

“This is one of the most giving communities. How you could just pick one, I don’t know,” she said when asked how the couple was selected for the award.

“When we do all those different auctions, we have the opportunity to see how much people give, and how many people are working together,” she said.

About 300 guests attended the awards luncheon at the Hotel Captain Cook, including Lt. Gov. and Mrs. Loren Leman.

Besides the Blakeleys and nine other adult award recipients from around the state, the Kenai Peninsula’s Amy Collman of Seward was presented with a first-time youth award, according to Norm Blakeley.

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