Several business and community awards were presented at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership Banquet on Feb. 6.

One was the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award presented to Sanford physician Dr. Marion “Marty” Pate because “he embodies the values that Duke Energy looks for in its … award winner,” Indira Everett, a Duke Energy representative, said.

“This award recognizes someone that has made a noteworthy contribution to the community above and beyond the norm,” Everette said.

“It is a tribute to an individual who makes a difference in their community by using their time, talents and compassion to positively impact the lives of others.

“Recipients of the award help foster a culture of citizenship and service that acts as a catalyst for others to become involved. The honoree exhibits the following values- integrity, stewardship, inclusion, initiative, teamwork and accountability,” Everette said.

About 30 years ago, Dr. Pate was concerned about the uninsured and low-income members of our community, so he connected individuals and medical professionals around a common goal, creating what we know today as the Helping Hand Clinic. The clinic provides free medical care to Lee County residents who are without insurance and unable to afford treatment.

What began inside the closet of a medical practice has grown, serving thousands of residents since 1993.

To this day, the Helping Hand Clinic fills a unique niche in our community. People who come to the clinic receive medical, diagnostic, dental, vision and pharmaceutical care at no cost.

This would not be possible without the support of Lee County’s medical providers, donors and volunteers, many of them organized by Dr. Pate. Without his foresight and vision, the Helping Hand Clinic would not be a reality.

Dr. Pate is still involved with the clinic, serving on its board of directors.

The Rev. Craig Lister of St. Francis Anglican Church said Dr. Pate’s “Christian faith and God’s grace have given him a compassionate and generous heart.”

That compassion and generosity are felt internationally as well as at home.

Dr. Pate has participated in medical mission trips with his church for many years. This has included multiple trips to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, South Africa and Belize, and now he is planning a mission trip to Rwanda.

He is a widely loved physician who has cared for patients in our community for more than 30 years and was a founding partner of Mid Carolina Gastroenterology here in Sanford.

He was an active member of the medical staff at Central Carolina Hospital from 1986 until his retirement in 2018. Almost immediately upon retirement, he jumped straight into being a pastoral volunteer at the hospital.

In that role, he provides comfort, concern and prayer for patients and their families.

Through his service at the Helping Hands Clinic, his international missions work, and volunteerism at the hospital, it was fitting for Dr. Pate to receive the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.