W ILKES-BARRE — Ask Kim and Ruth Borland how they manage a law firm, organize the Valley Santa program and dedicate time to a high school speech and debate team and they'd tell you this: They get by with a little help from their friends.
The couple, married for 37 years, has been practicing law since 1976 and contribute to the community what they feel they can work into their schedules.
That's one of the reasons they will receive the Small Business of the Year Award at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce 128th Annual Dinner Meeting on Nov. 13.
Others who will be recognized are Bobby Soper, CEO of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, who will receive the Distinguished Citizen Award, and Clayton Karambelas, who will receive the first Lifetime Ambassador Award.
Karambelas will be honored for more than 30 years of service as a goodwill ambassador to the chamber and hours volunteered to enhance and promote the region, the chamber said in a press release.
Soper will be honored for his contributions to the community through Mohegan Sun as well as participating in organizations throughout the community.
The Borlands said they are thrilled, honored and surprised to be recognized by the chamber.
We're very honored to be chosen for this, Kim Borland said. We're pleased other people thought so. Very pleased.
Each year, the Borlands organize Valley Santa, which provides Christmas gifts to needy children in the Wyoming Valley and volunteer countless hours.
Last year, 4,000 children were able to receive Christmas gifts with the organization's help.
Many other hours are spent coaching, attending tournaments and practicing twice a week with 60 students from the Meyers High School Speech and Debate Team.
We manage with a lot of help from our friends, Kim Borland, 59, said. It's everyone's obligation to help the community in every way they can. Valley Santa and Meyers are the things we felt we could contribute …
The Borlands' law firm, in business since 1979, is a general practice that handles everything from employment and civil rights litigation to estate planning and representing businesses or nonprofit organizations in litigation.
While attending law school in and near Boston, the Borlands noticed the Boston Globe newspaper's Globe Santa that provides toys to needy children.
Kim said they both were very touched by the organization and intrigued by the stories published every day about children in need during the Christmas season.
When the couple came back to Wilkes-Barre they saw a need for a similar program in the Wyoming Valley.
With help from the Citizens' Voice newspaper, Boscov's department store and local businesses, Valley Santa was a hit and is now in its 29th year.
It's a lot of fun. We're always concerned that the need is more than we can provide, but the community has always come through, the Borlands said. The kids have been fortunate.
The Borlands' daughter, Sarah, now 30, approached her parents about the speech and debate team while a sophomore at Meyers — and the Borlands have been involved ever since. The couple also has a son, Joseph, 28, a member of their law firm.
Kim said the team started with about six students and now has more than 60.
The team practices twice a week and competes in about 25 tournaments throughout the season, which runs from September through June.
The team participates in speech events, interpretations of poetry, current affairs and members write their own speeches presented at tournaments.
Ruth and I debated in high school and college, Kim said. (Sarah) kind of shamed us into it.
Ruth, 61, said she also is a member of the Wilkes-Barre Rotary and State Planning Council of NEPA, while she and Kim are members of various bar associations. Kim is a board member for the Greenhouse Center Clubhouse in Wilkes-Barre.
We look at each day, and whatever opportunity or challenge the day brings, we accept, Kim Borland said. We're pretty busy trying to keep the (law) practice going and keep on track with all of our friends.
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce 128th Annual Dinner will be held from 5-8 p.m. Nov. 13 at Genetti's Hotel and Convention Center, Market Street, Wilkes-Barre.
Reservations are $85 for chamber members and their guests and $95 for non-members.
For more information on sponsorships or reservations, call 823-2101 ext. 125 or ext. 131.