BLUFFTON — Lynda Best has a hard time saying “no” to helping others.
The trait has led her up trees to hang Christmas lights and around Bluffton as a flamingo snatcher, but it has also helped her win one of the eight regional 2018 Jefferson Awards.
Best, of Bluffton, entered public service roughly three decades ago when she became both a Girl Scout leader and Cub Scout leader for her children.
And then, she kept saying “yes.” Whether it was volunteering at Bluffton Presbyterian Church, leading Bluffton’s Relay for Life or spearheading Bluffton’s Blaze of Lights, she accepted more responsibility.
“It seems normal to me, all of this seems normal. But my sons are like, ‘you’re just a crazy woman,’ and they’re just used it,” Best said. “My daughter gets roped into this stuff. She’s one of the ones that always says ‘you got to start saying no’.”
Sometimes, Best get calls at her hair salon, Village Cut & Curl, from individuals looking for assistance. She’ll connect them with social or church services.
“If you can help someone, then that’s what I’ll do,” she said. “I like to help people.”
Best’s biggest annual project is the Bluffton Relay for Life, which has raised $27,000 each year after Best became the event chair, despite the American Cancer Society trying to cancel Bluffton’s event by combining it with Lima’s.
Instead of accepting the change, Best helped rally Bluffton to hold its own unique event, switching venues to the Bluffton Family Recreation Center and encouraging local businesses to donate services. Relay supports them in a limited capacity.
The Bluffton Relay for Life is also the reason Best spends significant amounts of time throughout the year planting cardboard flamingos in people’s yards without permission. Flamingo removal costs a $10 donation to Relay (or a request). Last year, she raised $3,000 from her flamingo shenanigans.
“I’m not sure when she sleeps actually,” the Rev. Karol Farris, pastor at Bluffton Presbyterian Church, said. “She is able to organize that energy and gets thing done.”
This fall, Best added Bluffton’s Blaze of Lights to her already busy schedule. Because organizers were starting to age out of the task of climbing trees and hanging Christmas lights, the event looked like it might have to be canceled, but again, Best rallied the community and got the younger generation to pick up the slack.
“Lynda is the one who stepped up to the plate,” former Bluffton Mayor Judy Augsburger said. “She said she’d help, but she didn’t want to be in charge. At the end of the day, it wouldn’t have happened without her.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.