Stephen J. Zajac, a member of the Father Howard J. Lesch Council 7667 of the
Knights of Columbus, was named the Knight of the Year for the state of Florida at the annual state convention held recently in Orlando.
Zajac, a Niceville resident and member of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, was recognized for his leadership and personal involvement in many charitable activities to benefit the community, the council and the parish.
A member of the Knights for the past 29 years, Zajac has held numerous officer positions in the council and served as Grand Knight during the past year. He provided the leadership and guidance that resulted in the council achieving Star Council status for the fourth consecutive year.
He organized, directed and led numerous council and parish events, such as a huge farewell party for the departing pastor, and a welcoming party for the new pastor. Each event had more than 600 attendees and he was personally involved in cooking and serving food for these parish-wide events. Zajac also volunteered to support the Parish Mission, Clergy Appreciation Dinner, Newcomers’ brunch and pasta dinners.
Among the council’s community service activities under Zajac’s leadership include the Handicapped Citizen’s Drive, the donation of more than 100 coats to the Coats for Kids program, and the Father-Daughter dance attended by more than 300 fathers and daughters, 60 percent of whom were from outside the parish. The dinner dance also collected more than 600 lbs. of food for the parish’s food pantry for distribution to the needy.
Zajac personally donates his time by providing transportation to and from medical appointments for a local assisted living facility, as well as providing the Catholic residents transportation to Mass on Sunday mornings. He also provides home repair services to help parish widows as well as assisting the parish custodian in the repair and maintenance of parish buildings.
A strong pro-life proponent, Zajac spearheaded a funds drive that raised $15,000, which was matched by the national Knights of Columbus, to provide an ultrasound machine to the Fort Walton Beach Center for Women. Dedicated in December of last year, the ultrasound machine was the seven-hundredth ultrasound machine donated by the Knights of Columbus.
Zajac was presented with the Florida State Council’s Knight of the Year trophy by State Deputy Don Goolesby at the annual awards banquet held at the Caribe Royale Hotel in Orlando.