Monday, November 19, 2012

What does it take?

If any of you regularly follow my blog, then you know that last week, we talked about how the community of Kernersville was WINNING and WINNING BIG!  After the Chamber awards banquet and the "medalists" that were honored during this event, it was easy to see why Kernersville has made the best of it's assets and continues to succeed.  All of you know that success is not possible without leadership.  It was intentional that I waited to write about the BIG WINNER of the night, the award for Citizen of the Year.  This award is the highest honor that the Chamber bestows on a citizen of the town of Kernersville.  In years past in ranges from business leaders, education leaders, spiritual leaders and elected officials, but this year all categories were represented.

This year's Citizen of the Year, I happen to know very well.  After serving with this individual four years on the Board of Aldermen, having children at the same school where she was PTA President and very active in the advocacy of the students and parents, and having children in the same sporting organizations; it was easy for me to see why Dana Caudill-Jones was awarded Citizen of the Year.

Dana and I originally met at Cash Elementary when our children entered school, but it was a quick, surface introduction.  Shortly after that, I decided to run for Alderman and Dana and I were both elected and served together for the next four years.  During that time we got to know each other very well.  It's tough to spend hours on end in meetings and events and not learn a little or a lot about your fellow board members.  Agree or disagree, I could see that Dana had a passion for her hometown that touched everything that she involved herself in.  We could be deeply in a disagreement and both bring up stories about our grandmothers' lives in Kernersville, these ladies were major influences in our lives and we enjoyed sharing these histories.  We constantly talked about similar Kernersville experiences that we had, those that enriched our lives and those of our families.  Again, regardless as to what side of an issue we were on, there was no doubt that Kernersville's well-being was at the root of it.  It's easy to see that Dana makes time for her family, especially her son.  Even with a demanding schedule she is quick to carve out time for the important things in life like her church and her family.

As her mom, dad and son, stood in the "wings' the night of the banquet waiting for the big announcement, it was clear that when she saw her family in attendance that it would move her more than the award itself.  And it did.  You just can't call those kind of emotions up at whim.

To Dana:  Thanks for all that you do for the community and for being an inspiration to other women who juggle being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a spiritual leader, a community leader, an educational leader and simply a leader.  It can be done and you truly embody that spirit and the spirit of the award as Citizen of the Year. Congratulations!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

And the Winner Is...

Kernersville.  Yep, I said it.  Kernersville is the winner.

Last night, Jake and I attended the Annual Kernersville Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.  I would suspect that over 200 business owners and community leaders attended.  As I looked around the room, it was easy to see why I believe that during this tough economy Kernersville is the winner.

These folks are familiar.  By that I mean, you see them around town, you see them around church, you see them around school and work.  They make things happen.  They aren't just elusive foundations hiding behind the names of the unknown dead, they are real people, who give real money and time to their hometown.  Take for example, the LE Pope Foundation.  Mr. Pope helped to really build Kernersville.  By setting aside land acquisitions, understanding growth and development, Mr. Pope, for whom this foundation is named, helped to form Kernersville's industrial and commercial-base into what it is today.  Through the company that Mr. Pope created and owned, projects such as Southpark Industrial Park, Deere-Hitachi, Kernersville Hospital, Sleep Inn, VA Medical Center and so many more revenue and job producing entities have been incubated and thrived.  You can see in his employees, their continued commitment to Kernersville's betterment.  As their president Jeff Hunter stated last night after receiving the Economic Development Award, "We are blessed."  How true.

It only took glancing across  my table to see another winner.  Starting a relatively small $3000 program to assist educators with school supplies, Monica Young, grew the educational grant program at the chamber to it's current total level of $75,000!!  This is a person that I SEE in church, whose children give back to our community, who gives of her talents in her career and her family and never shirks from "stepping up to the plate".  You know where Monica stands and you know that you can count on her.  Another big win for education as a result of her tireless efforts.

Another big factor that makes Kernersville a winner are folks like Jim and Henrietta Barrett.  Their list of accolades read as prestigious as any of those receiving national-level volunteer honors.  However, the Barretts are humble and don't seem to know the full impact their lives have had on others.  Jim and Henrietta may have helped build the Shepherd Center and Crisis Control buildings and may have counseled scores of folks in the community dealing with crisis and grief, but for me, it's more personal.  I'm sure that Jim doesn't even recall challenging me to take my first Disciple class at Main Street UMC, but he did.  And I did take it.  It by far, is one of the best things I have done for my spiritual growth.  Had it not been for his words, I doubt I would be in Disciple II today.  A jewel in Jim and Henrietta's crowns for sure!

A smiling face, a bit of assistance with one of my "dumb" questions, a fellow Kernersville Leadership class member.  Well, that's Mary Kay Csanyi.  Our past chamber chairman, Sharon Tucker, chose Mary Kay to receive the Chairman's Award, reflecting her ability to make Sharon's job easier this past year.  Mary Kay embodies Kernersville and it could be said of her that she is Kernersville's ambassador, as she is usually the first face that greets you at the chamber.  Her energy and effort are the glue that makes events such as the ever-popular Christmas Parade and Spring Folly a success. Her quiet work behind the scenes never goes unnoticed by those around her, but highlighting her with this award was a winning idea!

So, not only with these awards does Kernersville earn the title of WINNER.  Where else do you have job growth, housing that has been relatively stable, a central Triad location, access to most main interstates and highways, excellent schools, enormous sports programs for kids such as lacrosse and soccer and citizens who are committed to making sure their town "makes it".  Regardless of the political landscape, the season of year or the economic situation, the people of Kernersville both native and transplant, are drawn to the "true grit" nature and "get it done" mentality that allows this small town to continuosly be WINNING!