"I got a call about two or three weeks ago saying I had been nominated for and was receiving the Chester James Award, which was named after an African-American minister who had done a lot in the community and provided a lot of service," Hinesley said.
This is the first time the award has been given to someone who doesn't live in St. Petersburg.
"It was really special after being gone seven years to be nominated and to receive [the award] and of course to receive something named after someone who's so distinguished in the community, so it was really nice," Hinesley said.
According to a press release, "The St. Petersburg Mayor's Prayer Breakfast is an annual event sponsored by the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. It was founded in the year 2000, and has been a popular event. Past keynote speakers include Lee Roy Selmon, Chuck Colson and Truett Cathy. This year's speaker was Lorraine Yaslowitz, whose husband Jeff was killed in the line of duty as a St. Petersburg police officer."
Philip A. McLeod, vice president for the board of directors for the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg and future chairman beginning in January, said about 900 people attended this year's event.
"We give the award to someone who has demonstrated within the community both community service, but more importantly the highest ethics and character that they can show and Howard epitomizes all of the qualities that we were looking for," McLeod said.
Previous award recipients include former Florida Progress CEO Andrew Hines and former St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker. According to the press release, award recipients exemplify the attributes of James, "a man who lived his life filled with compassion, integrity and optimism."
"We've got 15 to 18 high schools alone and the number of students that were under [Hinesley] was huge and he navigated through that and was able to bring the school system ... to the next level," McLeod said. "... Everything he did in the school system as far as choosing the right personnel to run different schools, keeping the community informed of what the academic needs were for the community, improving the school system as a whole [is appreciated]."