BANGOR, Maine — The Rev. Robert Carlson and his wife, Elaine, will be honored next week as the Katahdin Area Council of Boy Scouts of America holds its 15th annual Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner.
The award, which will be presented Nov. 9 at the Bangor Civic Center, recognizes an individual or group of people who have dedicated a great deal of time to positively affect the community. Those chosen to receive the award don’t have to be Boy Scout volunteers but are selected because they exemplify in their lives what the Boy Scouts stand for: good citizenship, outstanding moral fiber and a commitment to helping others.
The Carlsons have served the community in many ways over the years.
Robert Carlson, an Air Force veteran, served as pastor of the East Orrington Congregational Church. He is the founder and president of Penobscot Community Health Care; a founder of Hope House, one of only two “wet” shelters in Maine; chaplain for the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, Husson University and the Bangor and Brewer police and fire departments; and is recognized across the state as part of WVOM-FM’s “God Squad.” A “wet” shelter is one where people who are inebriated can walk in and find a hot meal and a place to sleep.
Elaine Carlson served as the administrative assistant at Bangor High School for 31 years. She also served as a Girl Scout leader for 15 years in Hampden.
“I feel like I am the most fortunate clergyman in the state of Maine,” the Rev. Carlson said in a recent interview. “I have been blessed to have served in the law enforcement community, the business community, the legal community, and the medical community and it has been a very enriching experience.
“I feel so fortunate,” he said. “Winning this award is an opportunity to say to the larger community that has seen me over the past 41 years that there is a driving force behind me. It is the opportunity for Elaine to get the recognition that she deserves. Everything that I have done, I could not have done without her.”
Carlson said he believes that life is a gift from God, and what people do with their life is their gift back.
“I used to say that I’m no different then any other clergyman,” he said. “Well, I’m no better than them; I am different. Most do not have the wealth of experience that I do. It’s all about building relationships and communities. The reason why I’ve been involved in so many communities is because it’s a great thing. I can honestly say that I am just having fun, and it’s a blessing to be part of this community.”
Marshall Steinmann, Scout executive for the Katahdin Area Council, praised the Carlsons and their service to the Greater Bangor community.
“Reverend Robert is a force to be reckoned with in the community in terms of relationships and respect, and Elaine was beloved by all the kids and their parents during her time at Bangor High School,” he said. “They live their lives every day by the Scout Oath and Law.”
The Rev. Carl Schreiber of East Orrington Congregational Church has worked with the Carlsons extensively, and like most members of the community, holds them in the highest regard.
“Bob is a man of great vision,” he said in a recent interview. “He gets the job done and he does it better then anyone I have ever known. Out of his passion and his vision the church went from a small country church to a large banquet hall where the community can gather. Because of Bob average attendance went from 20 to 200. He is a very dynamic and a remarkable man. Bob is truly one in a million, and Elaine is a saint.”
The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Bangor Civic Center with dinner scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The cost of the event is $150 per person, with all proceeds going to the Boy Scouts of America. Companies may purchase tables with eight chairs for $1,000. Those wishing to celebrate Rev. Robert and Elaine Carlson should contact Steinmann at 866-2241.
Past recipients of the award include the Maine Troop Greeters, Sen. Susan Collins, Joe and Sue Cyr, Dr. John Winkin, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and St. Joseph Healthcare, Dr. Frederick Hutchinson, Gov. John E. Baldacci, Peter G. Vigue, James L. Robbins, Herbert C. Haynes, Robinson Speirs, G. Clifton Eames, G. Peirce Webber and Ralph E. Leonard.