The Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce recognized three residents for their service to the community this week.
The chamber held its 74th Annual Membership Meeting and Awards Dinner on Thursday evening at the William Henry Belk Center on the campus of St. Andrews University. Some 240 people attended the event.
Outgoing chamber Chair Becca Hughes presented the 2012 Volunteer of the Year award to Pauline Gruver. Gruver has volunteered with the chamber in several capacities, including greeting and registration at events, recruting new members, and chairing the Laurinburg Christmas parade.
“Our award winner this year is quick to volunteer whenever help is needed,” Hughes said. “She led the committee who put on our Christmas parade, and it was the largest we’ve had in many years. She is a great leader for our chamber.”
Gruver, the CFO of Hopsice of Scotland County, also organized children’s activities at the chamber’s summer Laurinburg After Five concerts.
“The adults socialize and have fun, but there’s not that much for the kids to do,” she said. “I work with Hospice, which has a very strong volunteer base and it made me realize how much other organizations need volunteers.”
The Dormagen-McLean Youth Service Award was presented by Steve McLean to Scotland High School senior Ryan Leak. A minimum of 60 hours of church and community service is required of award winners.
“Tonight’s recipient was described by one of his teachers at Scotland High School as one of the best kids he’s ever met,” McLean said. “In his neighborhood he’s often spotted helping the elderly with chores, mowing their lawns, whatever they might need. One of the greatest rewards that he’s received is in the activity of mentoring young boys and serving as a tutor to many young children. He always focuses his activities on giving back to others who have challenges in their lives.”
Leak, who was accompanied to the event by his uncle Donald McKenzie, serves as a Sunday school secretary and Vacation Bible School teacher at Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church. He is a member of the National Honors Society and Future Business Leaders of America at Scotland High School, where he is also captain of the men’s basketball team. As a member of the varsity football team secondary squad, Leak was an all-conference selection in 2012.
“Growing up I always enjoyed helping others,” Leak said. “It’s just part of who I am; growing up I never had a lot and people gave to me, so I started giving back to others. This fall I helped people register to vote, because that seems very important to me. I was privileged to be part of the voting process even though I wasn’t old enough to vote.”
This fall, Leak plans to attend N.C. State University to pursue an accounting degree.
“I’ve always been good with numbers and I like dealing with money, so it seems like a good field to go into,” he said.
Guy McCook, presenting the Dunbar-McCoy Quality of Life Award, dispensed with any attempt at suspense in his introduction of the 2012 recipient, former state Sen. Bill Purcell. Purcell, a pediatrician by profession, retired last week from a 15-year career representing Scotland County in the General Assembly.
“Through his pediatric practice, as an elected official, and in his volunteer service, he has impacted the lives of every citizen of Scotland County and many of the citizens of North Carolina,” said McCook. “He has always served with integrity and honor, and he’s been a model servant-leader for this community and for our state.”
Husband and wife musicians David and Michelle McCallum provided entertainment for the evening, with selections including “America the Beautiful” and “You Raise Me Up.”
In other business, Hughes reviewed the Chamber’s highs and lows of 2012, including its 31 new members, the hiring of new president Tonia Stephenson, and graduation of first Young Entrepreneurs’ Academy class.
“In May I listened to these 20 students describe their eight businesses,” Hughes said. “They talked about fixed expenses and budgets; they talked about start-up costs and marketing allowances; they talked about cost per unit and profit margins. When I think of the value our YEA students received from their participation in the program, I am filled with optimism for their futures.”
The Generation YZ grant program was implemented this year and is being facilitated by Dee Hammond. Eith the help of eight business partners, it will ultimately find employment placements for 35 individuals aged 18-30 years old.
Hughes deemed the annual Laurinburg After Five and Chamber on the Half Shell Oyster Road events successes, along with the Shop Local holiday campaign.
“Harley Norris took the Shop Local campaign to great heights, recruiting enthusiastic committee members and lots of merchants to participate,” she said. “With the educational tools incorporated into that program, we all know now how each one of us can make a difference in our community and its economy.”
Hughes passed the gavel to 2013 Chamber chair David McLamb of Poteat Hospitality.
Retiring board members Dee Hammond, St. Andrews University professor Larry Schulz, and FirstBank vice president Mike Vinson were also recognized. The Rev. Neal Carter of Laurinburg Presbyterian Church, Mary Sue Rabon of Mega Force Staffing, and John Ferguson will take their places.