Mike Kosalopoff Honored

June 27, 2013

Mike Kosolapoff (second from left) pictured with Auburn Rotarians (left to right) Kyle Butler, chair, Citizen of the Year Committee; Martee Moseley, club president; and Rick Davidson, director, Club Service
Mike Kosolapoff (second from left) pictured with Auburn Rotarians (left to right) Kyle Butler, chair, Citizen of the Year Committee; Martee Moseley, club president; and Rick Davidson, director, Club Service

Known to many locally as the man who sells blueberries to benefit Habitat for Humanity, Mike Kosolapoff is now also known as the Auburn Rotary Club’s 2013 Citizen of the Year.


Since 1983, the Auburn Rotary Club has recognized an individual, couple, business, or organization as its annual Citizen of the Year. The club’s Citizen of the Year Committee considers nominations made by Rotarians and community members. Only in rare cases will the committee consider a member of the Auburn Rotary Club for the honor. The committee evaluates nominees for their contributions to Auburn’s betterment through their vocational or volunteer work, and how those efforts exemplify Rotary International’s mantra of “service above self.” Recipients of this honor also receive a Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Fellowship and an honorarium.


In introducing Kosolapoff, Citizen of the Year Committee Chair Kyle Butler said, “I assure you no one is more dedicated to the ‘ideal of service’… and no one lives a better example of the Rotary motto ‘service above self.’ His entire life has been one of service.”


Kosolapoff’s support of Habitat for Humanity is much more than blueberries — a fundraising effort that does net more than $6,000 annually for the organization. Since 2003, Kosolapoff has chaired the WeHelp Coalition, a group of 11 local churches working with Lee County Habitat for Humanity to raise funds and build homes — and refurbish others — for selected local needy families. During this time, the WeHelp Coalition membership has built four homes, and helped to refurbish and repair many others. His leadership through the WeHelp Coalition and other help with home construction and advocacy garnered him Lee County Habitat’s 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award.


He is an active leader in the local American Legion Post and East Alabama Chapter of the Military Officers Association. After beginning his 23-year Army career as a second lieutenant upon graduating from Auburn University’s ROTC program, he returned to Auburn and served as a math teacher and guidance counselor at Valley High School, and later at Auburn High School.


Kosolapoff credited mentors who provided him with noteworthy examples of community service and activism during the early days of his retirement from Auburn High School.


“Mentors are as important to older people as they are to young people,” he said. “There’s a common phrase that says, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ I’m here to say this ‘man-child,’ in the last 11 years, was raised by the ‘loveliest village on the plains’ — Auburn, Alabama.”   


Kosolapoff also serves as verger at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, where his volunteer duties find him arranging and scheduling lay assistant staffing for services, training volunteers, and preparing various church facilities for worship services. He is married to Emily Kosolapoff and the couple has one daughter, Lara Kosolapoff-Wright.


For more information about the Auburn Rotary Club, visit www.auburnrotaryclub.com. Club information, as well as a video of the Citizen of the Year presentation, is available at www.facebook.com/AuburnRotaryClub.


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Previous Auburn Rotary Club Citizens of the Year


2012   Bill Ham

2011   The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art

2010   Dr. Dell Crosby & Mercy Medical Clinic

2009   Dr. David Smalley & Debbie Smalley

2008   Rev. Cliford Jones

2007   Dr. J. Terry Jenkins

2006   Coach David Marsh

2005   Coach Frank Tolbert

2004   Dr. George H. Mathison

2003   Martha Faupel

2002   Dr. Jim Matthews & Carolyn Matthews

2001   Dr. J. Wayne Flynt

2000   Dr. Taylor Littleton

1999   Pete B. Turnham

1998   Dr. Douglas J. Watson

1997   James K. Haygood Jr.

1996   Dr. Edward R. Richardson

1995   Lee Co. Habitat for Humanity

1994   Dr. James E. Foy

1993   Dr. H.C. Morgan

1992   East Alabama Medical Center

1991   Rev. Charles Britt

1990   Ed and Sally Bagwell

1989   Tommy Goff

1988   Neill Davis

1987   Jan Dempsey

1986   C.H. McGehee

1985   Dr. Wilford Bailey

1984   Dr. John Jeffers

1983   Auburn National Bank