Chamber Honors 6 at Annual Dinner
The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce honored citizens and businesses that are truly committed to the Aiken area during its Annual Dinner this past Friday evening. These award winners go above and beyond to make a difference in other's lives and contribute significantly to the economic prosperity and quality of life of the community.
Woman of the Year
A true leader leads by example, and Beverly Clyburn demonstrates this every day and in numerous ways. From educator to Aiken City Councilwoman, she is steadfast in all she does for her beloved community.
"I have known Mrs. Clyburn for more than 20 years," said City Manager Roger LeDuc. "She truly represents the character traits of integrity, humility, humbleness, sincerity and graciousness. Her quiet spirit and how she accomplishes so much without ever seeking the credit speaks volumes as to the woman she is."
It is her quiet spirit that has led to many positive accomplishments in Aiken and beyond. She fought hard for the 10-year renewal plan for Aiken's Northside. The plan included the removal of a rundown trailer park, which was replaced by 25 new homes. The construction continues today with more than 200 homes being built over the last six years.
She is fiercely passionate about education and the inherent value it adds to quality of life and to the community. As an educator, she has worked hard to ensure a bright future for thousands of students, many of whom are successful today because of her dedication and support.
As a member of Aiken City Council since 1988 and Mayor Pro Tem from 2002-2004, Beverly continues to make a positive difference in the Aiken community. She has an uncanny ability to motivate others to achieve specific goals to meet community needs. As chair of the Aiken County DSS Board, she saw the successful completion of a much needed new facility for the agency.
She currently serves, and has served, on numerous boards
and is a devout member of the Cumberland A.M.E. Church where she has served in numerous capacities, including chair of the Women's Ministry.
Beverly's favorite quote truly sums up the Aiken Chamber's 2009 Woman of the Year. "Reputation is what men say about you in newspapers and in testimonies; character is what angels say about you before the throne of God. We should all be about building character."
Man of the Year
For the past 30 years, Tim Simmons has been doing his part to improve quality of life in the Aiken area. And he has done so with enthusiasm, professionalism and selflessness. As chairman and CEO of Security Federal Bank, Tim has led the business by mentoring and challenging the employees to reach their potential, by instilling in them a spirit of dedication to the community, and by being there for others when needed.
"Tim is never too busy to make the time to provide personal service to countless people who value his counsel on business and other matters," said Chris Verenes, president of Security Federal Bank. "He symbolizes the spirit of the Aiken region and the true potential of our community.
A visionary by nature, Tim spearheaded the remodel of the bank's corporate headquarters on Laurens Street, restoring the historical character of the building. Security Federal received the South Carolina Historic Preservation Award as a result. His latest vision that he shared with others is about to come to fruition. The Aiken Train Depot will open this year. As chairman of the "All Aboard Campaign," Tim worked diligently to raise the funds necessary for the project.
His impact on Security Federal is immeasurable, said Verenes. He spearheaded the development of two programs for the bank that have had a tremendous impact on the lives of many. The Looney Tunes Savings Club encourages youth to start saving early in life, and the bank's Financial Counseling Service is free for anyone who needs help establishing a budget, overcoming financial challenges, or advice on obtaining a loan. The service has led to partnerships with local organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Christ Central, United Way, and ACTS, to help educate individuals on financial responsibility.
Tim's motto for the bank - doing what is in the best interest of the customer - carries over to his civic life, where he serves on boards of numerous organizations, including the Aiken Partnership Board of USCA, the Aiken County Commission for Technical Education, Aiken County Commission for Higher Education (Chair), Hitchcock Woods Foundation, and the Salvation Army.
Dr. Tom Hallman, chancellor of the University of South Carolina Aiken, summed up Tim's passion for the Aiken community. "I have known Tim for more than 20 years. He is committed to making our community a better place, and he works tirelessly in a variety of roles to make that happen."
Youth of the Year
Briana Rice wears many hats, both on the field and in the classroom, at Aiken High School. As the school's talented drum major, she led a force of 80 students through the paces of the football half time show this past fall. As the president of the AHS student body, she runs Student Council meetings with more than 60 student members. As a student leader, she wears many hats in the community, too.
"Brianna has endless energy and a drive to make a difference," said Aiken High Senior Guidance Counselor Linda Strojan. "Her strength as a leader comes first by acting as a role model to others. Few have doubted her sincerity and her judgment as she truly is committed to any task she agrees to undertake."
Brianna set forth an ambitious agenda for the 2009-2010 school year with the support of the Student Council. Under her leadership, the students organized a successful Christmas toy drive for DSS this past fall. Upon learning that the post-holiday season is a time of great demand but few donations for the Golden Harvest Food Bank, Brianna rallied the student "troops" to do a food drive in January. And she expects to raise more than $1,000 for the school's Relay for Life team and booth this spring.
Briana is an accomplished musician who performs keyboard with the percussion ensemble, sits first chair bassoon in the high school band and orchestra, and participates in All-Region and the USC Honor Band. But Brianna also understands that it takes more than one person to perform in a band, and she often spends time with struggling band members - teaching, encouraging, and boosting morale.
When it comes to academics, Briana holds herself to the highest standards. She is ranked third in her class and will graduate with the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Said AHS principal, Garen Cofer, "This Hornette embodies the very essence of what we here at Aiken High hope for in a student and community leader."
Perhaps the greatest testament to the Chamber's 2009 Youth of the Year comes from Briana's peers, who selected her as Aiken High's recipient of the DAR Good Citizen award. The award, nominated by faculty and voted upon by classmates, uses as its criteria "dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism.
Chamber Ambassador of the Year
Anna Bridges, project manager for VistaBank, exemplifies the characteristics of a truly dedicated volunteer. She goes above and beyond in everything she does - whether it's lending a helping hand or waiting on a customer. These are the words of one of Anna's fellow ambassadors who worked closely with her last year.
Anna's easy going personality served her well as she promoted the value of Chamber membership to businesses and welcomed new members to the organization.
"Anna has been a valuable asset to the team and the business community," said Robert Freitas, Edward Jones Investments, 2009 chair of the Ambassador Program and current Chamber board member. "She approaches every situation with a positive attitude, and she understands the value of teamwork."
The Aiken Chamber thanks Anna for her service to the members in 2009 and looks forward to working with her in 2010. Please see related story in this newsletter.
Small Business of the Year
Carriage Hills Living Center
It's not just those seeking short or long term care who visit Carriage Hills Living Center, a licensed 60-bed Skilled Nursing facility on the south side of Aiken. It is school groups, business people, sports fans, church groups, and many other community people. The reason is because Carriage Hills not only offers excellent care and services, it also supports the community . . . in a big way.
One simply needs to check out local event flyers, read the newspaper, or ride around town to see the Carriage Hills Living Center name. It's on baseball billboards, Little League sports shirts, at golf events, in cultural arts programs, and in numerous other locations.
The administration and staff often host events at the facility where community members are invited to share in the joys of the Carriage Hills residents and staff. Some of these free community events include the Annual Border Bash, Burns Dance Studio performances, and Family Appreciation Day.
Perhaps what makes Carriage Hills special is how the staff and administration seamlessly blend the young and the old, the challenged and the healthy, into their community activities. Residents who are able cheer for their favorite team alongside community guests during the center's annual Border Bash event, and they visit with business people when the center hosts a Chamber Business After Hours. This happens because the people who work at Carriage Hills understand the value of having meaningful activities and relationships for their residents, and they understand that the facility is a valuable part of the greater Aiken community.
The staff and administration at Carriage Hills are the lifeblood of the organization, and they are committed to excellence in all they do. Under the capable leadership of Robby Bowles, the center has ranked in the top 10 percent of places to receive care by families and residents for the past three years.
"The main objective of Carriage Hills is to help patients regain the ability to walk, improve strength, increase mobility, and boost morale - but the staff and administration go above and beyond," said Nicole Simmons with Hitchcock Healthcare. "They are people focused, community focused, and resident driven."
Large Business of the Year
UPS Supply Chain Solutions
UPS has been a part of the Aiken community for more than eight years. Under the talented leadership of Jim Anderson, the local site has grown from an initial 44 employees to become one of Aiken County's top major employers with more than 500 employees.
The growth has had a significant impact on the local economy in many ways. First and foremost, it created jobs for area citizens and increased spending with local businesses.
The local UPS site's growth has been recognized network wide as substantial in comparison to other UPS Supply Chain Solution sites, a testament to the local employees who bring a genuine gift of customer service to the workplace and who gladly accept new challenges.
The can-do attitude of the employees and the corporate culture of UPS overflow into the community where funding and volunteer hours continue to grow. "The local site's contribution to United Way for Aiken and surrounding counties has exceeded $200,000, and employees log more than 100 hours a month in community volunteer activities," said Regena Martin, Hampton Inn - Aiken.
In true community spirit, UPS strongly encourages employees to get involved in the community and offers flexible working hours when community volunteer activities are taking place. Employees serve on boards for local agencies and organizations, including United Way of Aiken County and the Aiken Community Playhouse.
As a community partner, UPS works with many other businesses on blood drives, safety fairs, the Heart Walk, Walk for Life, and United Way agency activities, including Project Vision and food drives. On the business front, the local operation has sponsored Gold Cup Polo and Chamber of Commerce events.