Volunteerism honored at Summer Supper

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2005

She may hail from neighboring Crenshaw County, but the 2005 John D. Murphy Memorial Citizen of the Year considers the Camellia City her home, sweet home.

Jill Stallworth proved to be the &uot;surprised, but delighted&uot; recipient of the annual award, presented by Greenville Jaycee T.J. Jernigan at the Main Street Summer Supper Thursday night at The Martin House.

In nomination letters read by Jernigan, Stallworth was described as &uot;a driving force&uot; in community, school and church activities, whose &uot;amazing talent and creativity&uot; enhanced life for the whole community.

The wife and mom of three is actively involved in Greenville Main Street, the Greenville Area Arts Council, ACS Relay For Life, the Sasanqua Garden Club and the Miss Greater Greenville Scholarship Board. At her church, Saint Thomas Episcopal, she serves as both Sunday School director and director for the church’s upcoming VBS in August.

Stallworth, who has lived in Greenville with her family for a decade, says she actually started getting involved in activities in the city during the seven years they lived in Pine Apple.

&uot;We were coming to Greenville to church and the kids were involved in a lot of their activities. We used to have bazaar workshops every week and get together to do smocking, crafts and such for our annual bazaar. I got to know a lot of people here that way,&uot; said Stallworth.

According to the active volunteer, getting to know the people of Butler County has been the best part of her community involvement.

&uot;By being involved in a variety of activities, I have gotten to meet so many amazing people that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Greenville is a lovely town with so many friendly people,&uot; she explained.

Stallworth says she is &uot;blown away&uot; by what a city the size of Greenville has to offer its residents.

&uot;We have a wonderful variety of activities here that some towns larger than ours do not have – performances at the Ritz, concerts in the park, festivals – there is almost always something to do,&uot; she noted.

She is also amazed at the amount of talent found here.

&uot;There are so many people in Greenville who are gifted at art, arranging flowers, entertaining, cooking

– you see what they do, and you want to get involved,&uot; she said.

Stallworth believes it’s important for a community volunteer to find a balance between family, church and community.

Getting everyone involved can help, she says.

&uot;My husband [Steve] and my kids [Carey, John Duncan and Britney] have always been involved along with me. Steve cooked at the Grits Festival last year. John Duncan helped pass out food at this year’s Summer Supper. It’s fun for all of us,&uot; Stallworth said.

She says herself as just one of many willing volunteers who come together to make good things happen for Greenville.

&uot;It takes a lot of good citizens working together to pull things off. Having a positive attitude helps a lot, too,&uot; she added with a smile.

Other winners for the evening included Billie and Lana Kershner, owners of Kershner Fabrics, who were recipients of the Great Greenville Main Street Award. The Kershners purchased the building formerly housing Alice's Antiques and donated its contents to Greenville Main Street for fundraising purposes. They have gone on to build one of the most flourishing of the downtown businesses in that location.

"The Kershner's generous donation allowed us to build a savings account for Main Street for our facade program," said Main Street Director Nancy Idland.

"We really appreciate this honor and would like to thank everyone - the city of Greenville, all our customers, The Greenville Advocate, the other merchants - who have supported our business here," said Lana Kershner.

"We are really thankful to have had such great customers from Greenville and throughout the state," Billie Kershner added.

City Horticulturist Jennifer Stringer and her crew were chosen as Main Street Volunteers of the Year for their willingness "to go above and beyond the call of duty in making the city look beautiful throughout the year," said Idland.

Following the presentation of awards, Stallworth and Idland, decked out in overalls and straw hats, put on an amusing skit as "Hee-Haw Honeys" for the audience. Guests then enjoyed a southern supper featuring fried catfish, chicken and all the side "fixins'" with pound cake, fresh strawberries and ice cream for dessert.