The individual chosen as best demonstrating citizenship as a character trait is no stranger to crisis.

Chaplain Paul Hamilton of The Regional Medical Center the reason he deals with crises so much is because he wants to help people. "That's the main thing.”

Hamilton is a prime example of the embodiment of a good citizen. Chosen as the Orangeburg County Community of Character July honoree, Hamilton's response to the community has made him a role model.

For the past 17 years, Hamilton has been a shoulder for many to cry on in times of need.

"Life is hard enough. Life can be hard at times, and all of us hit a crisis and have moments like that. We can help other people, and that's the thing that draws me to it," said Hamilton of his role as a chaplain.

Hamilton works beyond Orangeburg, too.

He is a member of the National Crisis Response Team under the National Organization of Victims Assistance, which deals with the emotional aftermath of crisis situations. He was there with other clergy at Ground Zero in New York City, at Columbine High School and at so many other locations where outside assistance was needed.

Dealing with those involved in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks and the shock of students gunning down fellow students in the hallways at Columbine have been a part of the duty he fulfills in his devotion to help in times of need.

"He was very deserving because of his unselfishly giving of himself," said Terry Boone of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, a sponsor of the Committee of the Community of Character initiative. "That's what a model citizen is. He not only serves the local community but the community of the nation."

Hamilton feels all crisis situations are important, not just the ones making worldwide headlines.

"We have the big crisis in life, but there are people around us every day in small crises, and that's just as important for the family that's in the emergency room … It's not a World Trade Center or a school shooting, none of those things, but it feels the same," Hamilton said.

Being ready to respond is his mission. The job "never calls when it's good news."

"It's an important thing to do," he said. "I would always volunteer to do something … I always have … I always would."

Working as a chaplain, Hamilton is connected to much of the community because the community comes to the hospital. The hospital is a community within itself, with more than 1,500 employees to whom Hamilton ministers.

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Working with law enforcement, fire departments and the emergency services, Hamilton is connected will all the crisis workers in the community.

"I've responded to many adventures," he said.

But Hamilton doesn't try to do it all himself. He takes his vacation to teach others how to handle crisis situations.

Recently teaching a group in Delaware, Hamilton said it is "better to have others that can handle these situations. The more people we have that can deal with these things the better."

He received the Morton Bard Award for outstanding contributions to the victims movement as an allied professional from the National Organization of Victim Assistance. Not an annual award, it is only given when there is a deserving person.

Dealings with so much crisis may seem like a crisis itself, but Hamilton greets it with familiarity.

"There are times when people are in crisis and you can help, and when you help people, you will feel better," he said.

T&D Staff Writer Kimberly Washington can be reached by e-mail at kwashington@timesanddemocrat.com or by phone at 803-533-5549.

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