In covering events and meetings for the newspaper, one of the difficulties I’ve found is in reducing my many notes into a story. Because of space limitations, I just can’t include everything in the story I’m writing.

Such was the case with last week’s Great State Hero dinner and awards ceremony. All the nominees were deserving and have served Wilkes faithfully and unselfishly. And, guest speaker Cameron Kent said much more than I could list.

Kent’s talk focused on how we, as individuals, invest our time. He previously lived in Los Angeles. Waiting in L.A. traffic could be a metaphor for life, he said. You could just sit there (in traffic) and do nothing, or you could look around and see who needs help.

He related a story from his father, who was a teacher and basketball coach in Colorado. One of his father’s favorite quotes was, “Success is where preparation meets opportunity.” Kent’s father had a player on his team who was born without a hand. The player learned to catch and shoot the basketball.

Just like in a movie, the team went to the state finals. Tied at the end of the game with the ball, his father called time-out. He told his star player to fake the shot to draw the defense to him, then to pass to the player with one hand. No one would be expecting him to shoot.

But, the young man had been practicing and preparing his whole life. He took the shot, it went in, and the team won the state championship. He had prepared, and when the opportunity arose, he took it.


Choosing the Great State Heroes for 2019 was a difficult task, I’m sure.

In crisis intervention, Devin Lyall of Wilkes Recovery Revolution was the winner. Dodie Maxted and Rachel Minick  were also nominated.

Maxted has been a Guardian ad Litem volunteer for 18 years and last year volunteered over 500 hours with Samaritan Kitchen of Wilkes.

Minick is the founder of the Little Free Pantry and Wilkes Pantry Partners. Fran Cantrell, a retired nurse who now works with Wilkes Senior Resources, won the award for health improvement.

Curtis Lomax was nominated posthumously for his work with Our House. He was instrumental in introducing the Love and Logic parenting program to over 1,500 families. Mary Tevepaugh works with Senior Home Companions. She gave over 1,058 hours of direct service last year in the homes of elderly adults.

Winning the award for education advancement was Gretchen Barelski, a former school psychologist who works with many local nonprofits. Also nominated were Dr. Alexander Erwin and Betty Thompson.

Erwin, a retired educator, has received numerous education awards. He volunteers with his church, Rickard’s Chapel, and is a leader with Lincoln Heights School. Erwin is a Guardian ad Litem advocate and an education consultant. Thompson has served tirelessly with Wilkes Community College, including the bookstore, MerleFest and the John A. Walker Center, and is a 20-year board member of ADAP.

Although Hailey Hogan was the winner of future generations for her work with Communities In Schools, nominees David Webster and Hannah Miller have also been active.

Webster volunteers with La Escuelita (Little School) including Homework Haven and Miller works with Samaritan Kitchen and the Youth Service Opportunity Program.

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