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ANDERSON, Ind. -- In recognition of their community efforts since arriving in east central Indiana in 1979, Jay and Nancy Ricker received the Crossroads of America Council, Boy Scouts of America's 2009 Distinguished Citizen Award at a dinner last night at the Anderson Country Club, The Herald Bulletin reported.
The award is presented annually to an individual who has practiced "selfless and tireless acts of service to this community," and shown qualities of leadership, dedication and willingness to improve the lives of those around them, according to the report.
Besides creating a well-known convenience store chain that has stores dotting the state of Indiana from Fort Wayne to Mooresville, the Rickers have established the company's headquarters in a historic building in downtown Anderson and use the space to work on many community projects, including donating money, products and sponsorships to local charities, Little Leagues, soccer leagues and post-prom events.
The Rickers also are avid supporters of Anderson's historic Paramount Theatre and the Anderson Symphony Orchestra. Nancy Ricker serves on the local Habitat for Humanity Board, and the couple has been the majority contributor to several Habitat houses. Jay Ricker has served on various community boards as well.
"I think it's incumbent upon people who have been successful to give back to their community," Jay Ricker told the Bulletin. "This community has had a history of couples giving back to their community. We're kind of following in the footsteps of others in this community. We all tend to dwell on the negative sometimes, but we've always had strong individuals in this community."
Nancy Ricker said it only made sense for the couple to give back. "We've made our money in this community," she said. "This has been our home since the late '70s."
Not only are the Rickers residents of the community, they also have become a household name. Their convenience stores and Ricker's Pop are somewhat of a local pastime, and they have 700 employees around the state, the newspaper reported.
Last week, Jay Ricker was named chairman of the National Association of Convenience Stores, and he has served as president of both the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association and BP Amoco Marketers Association. The couple has won a local entrepreneurial award and other statewide honors for their efforts.
The couple said they couldn't have built such a strong business and been able to give back to the community without the help of their employees. From fielding questions on the controversial topic of gas prices, to being trained so Ricker's stores can serve as Safe Havens, the employees have put their lives into the business. "You can't tell people to do things like that," Jay Ricker said. "They have to want to do it."
They plan to continue giving of their time and money to help the community they call home. "So many people deservedly need money for a variety of projects," Jay Ricker said. "Anybody who runs a business needs to remember where they came from."
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