Leadership Statesville grads honored for community service
Leadership Statesville graduates pose for a photo during Tuesday night's ceremony at Statesville Country Club.
BY HALEY JONES
Leadership Statesville celebrated the graduation of its 2017 class on Tuesday night at the Statesville Country Club.
Leadership Statesville is a nine-month program that identifies potential community leaders with diverse backgrounds, preparing them to accept unique opportunities to strengthen and transform the Statesville community through active involvement.
Participants in the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce program included:
• Christen Fries of Iredell County Partnership for Young Children, Inc.;
• Jennifer Griggs of Tarheel Realty, II;
• Anne Holcomb of Lake Norman Realty, Inc.;
• Danielle Mower of First Citizen Bank;
• Carey Parker of Parker Law Offices;
• Donnie Shoaf of EnergyUnited;
• Kelli Simko of Café 220;
• Tonya Watts of LifeSpan Enrichment;
• Shon White of Goodwill Industries of Northwest Inc.;
• Todd Williams of Iredell-Statesville Schools;
• Marty Cass of Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County;
• Alisha Cordle of Life Span Enrichment;
• Matt Lenhardt of Iredell County Cooperative Extension;
• Wes Pitts of First Presbyterian Church;
• Lawrence Pizzorni of Iredell Health System;
• Julie Wozniak of WSIC/Iredell Broadcasting;
• Jackie Sigman of Purple Hearts Homes; and
• Dustin McCrary of The Law Office of Dustin S. McCrary, PLLC.
John Childress, a member of the Leadership Statesville Advisory Board, spoke of his experience with the program. Childress was a participant in Youth Leadership in 1996, as a high school junior. He completed the Leadership Statesville in 2010.
“Without this program, I don’t think I’d be here helping to lead the program,” Childress said.
Childress received a plaque on behalf of the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce, recognizing him for his leadership as chair of the Statesville Leadership Advisory Board.
Jeff Smith, CEO of Piedmont Healthcare and chairman of the Chamber board, spoke to the graduates offering words of encouragement and advice.
“You’ve decided to invest the time to give back in a meaningful way and for that, we all thank you,” he said. “You have all earned the opportunity to be great. We need people like you that are interested and committed to the community. You’ve invested in community and, more importantly, you have invested in yourself. And for that we are eternally grateful.”
Graduates Wes Pitts, Cary Parker, Christen Fries, and Kelli Simko spoke about the 2017 Leadership Statesville Project, in which the group explained how the class worked with Rescue Ranch to sponsor an addition to the ranch’s inclusive playground.
“Something that occurred over and over again was caring about and wanting to give back to this community that we live in,” Parker said. “This leadership program has been one way to introduce how (we) can be more involved in Statesville. And for those that have already been involved, (the program has) opened their eyes to additional ways that they didn’t know about.”
After a ropes course bonding experience, the class chose their to sponsor a ZipKrooz for the Rescue Ranch playground. The 66-foot, two-bay zip line lets kids of all ages and abilities “fly.” Every portion of playground equipment at Rescue Ranch can be used by all children.
Thanks was given to Nicole Greer who brought the class together and helped with the project mission statement. The mission statement developed for the final project reads as follows:
Leadership Statesville Class of 2017 in partnership with Rescue Ranch will fundraise, build and market the sustainable and educational landmark for the Statesville community in the form of an inclusive play-scape designed to strengthen the minds, bodies, and spirits of children in our region.
Through the formation of a fundraising committee, a marketing committee, a construction/design committee, and an executive committee (made up of the chairman of each committee), the strengths of the class shone through.
“It was stressful at some points but we had lots of good times,” said project coordinator Christen Fries. “It was a learning experience.”
Pitts, the fundraising chairman, also discussed the project.
“We looked at what this place can be for children of this region. Krissie Newman and her team’s vision was this phenomenal playground,” said Pitts who described the 10,000-square-foot playground area which incorporates the use of each piece of playground equipment by children with disabilities. “We selected the ZipKrooz. It matched our personality because one of our first days together (as a class), we went zip lining.”
The class’ goal was to raise $36,000, which included $34,000 for the ZipKrooz and $2,000 for future Leadership Statesville class scholarships.
The Leadership Class raised a total of $38,000.
Promoting Rescue Ranch and the work the nonprofit does on a daily basis became a mission for the group.
“What we’ve heard time and time again is that they are Statesville’s best kept secret,” Pitts said. “And so we made it our mission to make it not so much of a secret and I hope we accomplished that.”
A ribbon cutting will be held for the project on June 3.
“Leadership Statesville is one of the most important projects that we do because we (it’s what we) need in this community,” said David Bradley, Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce president. “This community has so many opportunities to be better than we are – we are a great community. So we need you, your creative ideas and background to help make this community something extraordinary.”
Bradley introduced Bob Dooley, of Lake Norman Pool and Spa, who influenced him to take the job of chamber president 12 years ago. Bradley described Dooley as having the fire and passion in his soul of someone who is committed to life, love, and to his community.
As a leader of the community and 2016 Citizen of the Year, Dooley offered advice to the graduates on how to be an effective leader. Born and raised in Statesville and a graduate of Statesville High School, Dooley described his journey in life and how he found his way back to Statesville because that is where he wanted to be.
“I wasn’t trying to get out of Statesville,” Dooley said. “I was in a hurry to get back to Statesville because I always loved our community.”
Dooley eventually became the owner of Lake Norman Pool and Spa, which he sold two weeks ago.
He described his leadership experiences in the community, such as his involvement in the Statesville streetscape, the chamber, the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation, the Carolina BalloonFest, and other community committees and events.
“As I progress, I’ve learned that leadership is a journey,” Dooley said. “You may not look at yourself as a leader but find your passion, figure out how you want to lead and get others to subscribe to that vision. A lot of times, you may be by yourself; people won’t follow you out on that limb. But you must be strong enough to paint that vision and have confidence in it.”
Bradley, in his closing remarks, encouraged the graduates to continue to make their mark on the community.
“My plea to you is to dream. Dream about what is the community that you want to call home,” he said. “You can mold (the city) to help make it your dream. You’ve been through the class, gotten to know one another and completed the project. Now, only you can answer the question ‘Now what?’ We are proud of you and you are charged, today, with making Statesville a better place.”