Charles Proudfoot recently received the Heart-In-Hand Award from the Wildfire Arizona organization.

Charles Proudfoot’s years of service to the people of Rim Country was recognized recently.

Gila County leaders celebrated Proudfoot with the Heart-In-Hand Award of the Wildfire Arizona Organization, formerly the Arizona Community Action Association.

Gila County Community Action Program leaders nominated Proudfoot because he met award criterion such as “distinguished themselves by volunteering their time and talents to the areas of health care, social services, youth or senior activities, public knowledge or awareness, government services or any other aspect of community service areas especially with low-income people.”

He received the award at an event in the Valley last month.

Proudfoot spent 45 years as a pastor — 15 of those in Payson — before retiring. His resumé of extracurricular volunteer work quickly fills a page; just a few “Top 10” highlights include:

• Served on the board of First Things First for seven years.

• Payson Area Food Drive for eight years (currently convener) that serves over 1,000 people per month.

• Board member of the Gila County Community Action Program Advisory Board and recently elected chairman of this board.

• Member of Gila County’s Homeless Task Force.

• President of Ganado Presbyterian Mission Foundation on the Navajo Reservation.

• President of the Friends of 169 — restoring a historical steam locomotive.

• Chaired the Rim Country Habitat for Humanity board for three years and served for six years.

During his tenure at the Payson Community Presbyterian Church, Proudfoot had the church host the area’s series of jazz concerts — which he said fell into their laps after organizer Gerry Reynolds wanted a venue larger than the Payson Senior Center for the concerts. Proudfoot then helped institute Main Street’s First Friday program, which became a staple at the church since May 2007.

“The first year it was named the state’s Most Innovative Event,” Proudfoot said. It had many participants, but businesses came and went over the years, leaving the Presbyterian Church the last of the founders still offering some local entertainment the first Friday of every month.

Proudfoot said the honor surprised him.

“It is only the second time I have been acknowledged like this. The first time was with the Main Street project,” he said.

“People don’t generally recognize those who work behind the scenes to get things done. And that’s all right. I have never wanted any recognition,” he said.

Several other Rim Country residents, as well as many from the Globe area, have received the award in the past, he said.

Community Action Program Director Malissa Buzan presented the award.

“He is humble in his activities and how much he affects the lives of people he assists,” said Buzan.

“Chuck’s philosophy is: ‘I’m there wherever and whenever there is a need,’ and he’s truly an inspiration to all of us who have chosen a career in community services. He volunteers his time with a variety of community projects — and continues to give, unselfishly, to the community and people in need.”

Buzan is a member of multiple boards, too; among them she serves on the board of the annual Wildfire Conference where Proudfoot’s award was announced. Theme for the conference was “Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona” and the two-day event brought together representatives from across Arizona.

Serving Arizona since 1967 as the Arizona Community Action Association, the group exists to ease the effects of poverty. The organization re-named and re-branded this year as “Wildfire” to ignite lasting change — and stop poverty before it starts. Read more at

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