Poole named Jaycees Citizen of the Year
Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 16, 2007
“Complete and utter shock” were the words used by this year's recipient of the Greenville Jaycees John D. Murphy Citizen of the Year Award when her name was announced by T.J. Jernigan at Thursday night's Main Street Summer Supper.
Juanita Poole, Dothan native and 50-plus year resident of the Camellia City, said she could not have been more surprised by the honor.
“There are so, so many people who I feel are just as much, if not more deserving, of this award than I am,” Poole said.
“Greenville is just a wonderful city and I truly would not want to live anywhere else.”
Her husband, Greenville native and attorney Elisha Poole, is a previous recipient of the award, making the Pooles the first Citizen of the Year winners to come from the same family.
The volunteer has been actively involved in the Butler County Chapter of the American Cancer Society for 15 years, she said.
“I actually started as the Biggest Rat at one of our early fundraisers. I was in charge of the various fundraisers and we had probably four or five a year - costume balls, Valentine greetings and so on,” Poole explained.
“Then we started with our annual Relay and I've served as sponsorship chair for that ever since.”
Serving as a volunteer chair for Relay For Life is a time-consuming task.
“Basically, it is four months out of my life each year. But to me, it is a most worthy cause,” Poole said.
“You really can see the results of your work. Most of what we raise goes into research, and a number of those research facilities are right here in Alabama.”
Poole says the secret to successful volunteering is to choose something you are passionate about and really believe in.
“It is rewarding for you and for others; in fact, you always get more out of it than you put in,” Poole said.
The newest Citizen of the Year points out that Relay For Life in Butler County brings together several hundred volunteers from all walks of life each year in a true community effort.
“I've met so many wonderful people I would not have met otherwise through working with Relay. And it's an event you really hear nothing bad about. It brings the whole county together for a good cause,” Poole said.
As for her special honor, she admits it is always nice to be recognized and get that pat on the back.
“But it is also incredibly humbling,” Poole said.
“There are so many people here in Greenville who give their time and efforts in the realms of charity, education and the arts,
and who deserve recognition for what they do.”
She declared the Summer Supper “a lovely evening,” and said she was thrilled to see many of the younger people of the town committed to making Greenville a great place to live.
Also honored at Thursday night's supper were Great Greenville Main Street Award winners Jan Newton, owner of The Chef's Table downtown, and builder Archie Woodruff (who was unable to attend the event).
Main Street Executive Director Nancy Idland lauded both Newton and Woodruff for their injection of talent, effort and significant financial investment into the downtown area.
Newton realized a long-held dream this past year when she took the former Greenville Appliance/grocery building next to City Hall and transformed it into a bakery-deli restaurant.
“Thank you so much for this honor. I can hardly believe it,” Newton said.
“I really envision my restaurant as a community gathering place. And the food is great, too, because I have some great cooks! Come and see us soon.”
Woodruff has renovated several properties in and around the downtown area, including a sumptuous loft-style apartment in the Liz Woodruff Building.
Idland said the ambitious builder, who splits his time between Orlando and his hometown of Greenville, has already rented out the loft apartment in his next venture, renovating the former Elizabeth Wilson building on Adams Street.
As for the normal Main Street Volunteer of the Year award, Idland said so many people had given of their time and energies in the past year “no one individual is being singled out.”
The event was held on the spacious, shady grounds of the historic Hamilton House on College Street, owned by Petie Hamilton Carmichael and home to generations of Hamiltons over the years. FDA grad and Troy student Jared Lowe, guitarist, joined by vocalist Andrew Locklar, a native of Enterprise, provided musical entertainment throughout the evening.
Guests enjoyed a bevy of good southern summer fare, including a variety of salads, relish trays and freshly grilled barbecue chicken courtesy of grill master for the evening, Rhett Idland. The meal was topped with that southern favorite, Mississippi Mud Sundaes.
A mini silent auction featuring items donated by local merchants drew shoppers, while a video montage highlighted Main Street businesses, events and volunteers for the guests.
“As always, I appreciate all the volunteers who helped make this event a success,” said Idland.
“The Summer Supper is a great way to get together and simply reinforce the idea our downtown is imperative to our city. We are thrilled to see the growth in general as it means more businesses, more jobs and a better tax base - and that all benefits downtown.”
She added the city had “a lot of dedicated people willing to hold on to keeping small businesses downtown and who were dedicated to the downtown area.”
Idland said small-town Greenville was a place full of “wonderful, nice events” like the Summer Supper.
“I am glad to be a part of just some of it.”