We're told that our next honoree is one of the busiest “retired" people that you will ever meet. Carol Poteat Buchanan has spent much of her life working to champion equal treatment for all and to celebrate our diversity.
One walk through Carol Poteat-Buchanan's home and one glance at some of her pictures and awards, you know this is a woman with some stories to tell. "Sometimes I think some of these honors come because I've lived a long enough life, ya know."
This very active 83-year-old doesn't spend much of her retirement relaxing or playing in the typical way. "I don't play golf, tennis and unfortunately, I don't even play bridge."
Instead, Carol dove head first into supporting charities along the Suncoast, but maybe staying busy is her secret to looking so young.
Carol's friend and colleague, Yvonne Brown, says carol is one of the busiest retired persons you'll ever meet. "She doesn't every give you the impression she is retired, she doesn't look retired, she doesn't act retired, she stays busy and she truly enjoys what she is doing."
Yvonne Brown is a member of the Gulf Coast Community Choir, which Carol and her late husband started in 2000, initially to help the fundraising needs of the Sarasota branch of the NAACP. When the event took off they started raising money for countless Suncoast charities, earning the choir a key to the city of Sarasota in 2001. Carol has continued those traditions to this day. "I think it's the only truly racially integrated choir in SRQ, so we're really proud of that too."
The choir even performs around the globe, spreading joy through music. “I think the choir is really a wonderful U.S. ambassador."
In fact, Carol says people in other countries are often surprised to see such a diverse choir. It’s an opportunity she uses to educate others. "In Barcelona, someone said to me but you're all standing up there like you're friends and I said we are friends they couldn't understand that African-Americans and whites could be friends in the U.S."
Having a passion for educating and for cultures of all kinds. It's a natural fit that Carol is currently the co-chair for "Embracing Our Differences", a major art exhibit celebrating diversity that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Sarasota's bayfront each spring.
This year, 24,000 children were bused in free of charge to view the exhibit.
"We teach them about the dangers of prejudice and the beauty of embracing other religions, and Carol is a major part of that organizing and choosing the artwork and what the soul of the project is," says Richard Bergman.
So while Carol will tell you in a very humble way she's been blessed, it's many others who have been blessed by her compassion. “I'm very honored and touched. You never know what other people think. You just try to do what you can do."
Carol isn't done just yet. Later this year, she plans to attend a global conference in London for the U.N. Women's Conference, and next year she is the chair for the U.S. National Committee for U.N. Women's Conference.