Spirit of Athens Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon

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Spirit of Athens held their annual meeting with a wonderful lunch catered by Sweetest Thing Tea Room (609 N. Jefferson Street) & by LuVici's (105 Jefferson Street North).

The wonderful live entertainment was provided by the Charles and Grant Show, Charles Williams and Grant Aday. They provide easy listening country and current songs accompanied by guitar.

The agenda for the meeting started with Derrick Young, Spirit of Athens President, welcoming everyone to the Rodgers Center, First Presbyterian Church. The sold out luncheon was well attended by many members including political figures, organizations and businesses. The founder of Spirit of Athens was also present, Mrs. Carolyn Crow and her husband Hubert. Also attending were, Mayor & Mrs. Ronnie Marks, Rep. Dan Williams, Senator Arthur Orr, Senator Bill Holtzclaw, Commissioner Chairman Stanley Menefee, Chamber President Hugh Ball, Director of the Alabama Veterans Museum Sandy Thompson,  Rick Mould from Athens State University and Mr. & Mrs. Henry White.

The invocation was given by Kenny Brinkley and the key speaker was SOA board member Shane Black. Black reminded everyone of how the downtown, with continued cooperative direction, will go on to thrive unlike so many downtowns that have been takeover by malls and newer facilities. Our downtown has memories of all who have grown up here, and new memories for people just discovering it.

Derrick Young presented the first award, the "Friend of Downtown," to RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) accepting the award was Mrs. Betty Ruth. RSVP/Volunteer Point is the connection between volunteers and community needs. They partner with the community to mobilize volunteers and provide solutions to local challenges.  

Board member Tony McCormack presented the "Spirit of Giving" award to U. G. White. Derrick Young accepted the award saying, "I never realized just how much went into an independent retail store until I got involved with one and there’s a lot of people here who have done this for a long time, a lot longer than I have and my hat’s off to them. For an individual to keep an independent retail store operating and successfully, it’s a tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into it, and my hats off to everybody around the square that has kept it [the square] alive this long. We’re just happy to be a part of the downtown square and appreciate the opportunity, and I really appreciate the award. Thank you.” U. G. White promotes the downtown and encourages people to visit. They sponsored the "Crank Off" during the Homecoming Celebration and is always willing to donate to the community in many ways.

Diane Lehr presented the "Volunteer of the Year" Award to Brent Hobbs. Lehr began by saying, "Volunteers are very near and dear to my heart, besides being one, I work with them and I think they’re the finest people out there. Volunteers are the people that get up in the morning and while brushing their teeth to get ready to go to work they think of the membership spreadsheet they stayed up late working on the night before. Volunteers understand if they work really hard and they make a superb quality of life where they are that superb citizens will move in. And we also understand that we are all in this together so why not be superb. This year’s volunteer is no less superb than all the people I mentioned before. This is a person that said yes to every creative challenge presented, someone who has worked on iWalk campaigns and updated our website regularly, he’s someone who has a family and a life, but he stays up late working on those spreadsheets, and that graphic design to send out a message to the world that downtown Athens is the place to be. This year’s Volunteer of the Year is Mr. Brent Hobbs.”
Hobbs accepted the award by saying, “Thank you, like I told Trisha, I’ll do this as long as you guys can put up with me. I appreciate this award, but my part in this is kind of small. I grew up here, I just wanted to do whatever I could do to help the community and thanks Trisha for all of your hard work and to all of you guys who gave me this.”

Director Trisha Black presented the award for "Downtown Revitalization" to the City of Athens and Mayor Marks for the superb job on the Athens Visitor Center. The former Utility Building or Dominos building was in poor condition before the city workers began the renovations. The finished building is now home to Jeanette Dunnavant and her staff for the Athens Visitor Center which also rents the meeting room for business meetings, showers, birthday parties and other functions.

In closing, Black spoke to the guest by saying, "I want to thank you all for attending the awards luncheon today, it really means a lot to me and for all of us that have been working really hard to keep the revitalization efforts going here in downtown. Athens is a great place to live. I didn’t grow up here, but it has certainly become my home town and I love it. The people are great. Look off the interstate, we got Publix, Lowe’s, Starbucks, but then you also have your downtown that reflects the identity of this beautiful city. I have enjoyed so many stories that so many of you have told me over the years since we’ve been here. Susan has told me about her mom having a store on the square and coming down here and hanging out after school."

 "Representative Williams has told me about coming down here as a child during “Trade Days” and how when they had a pigeon problem the men all brought their guns and shot the pigeons then they all ran around and collected pigeons. And then I had the opportunity to meet a couple that went on their first date cruising the square in the 50’s and how they got to come back in 2009 and do that again. Those are stories we want to preserve, and although I don’t have those stories, I’m proud to say my kids will."

"I have a daughter that is 12 years old and she was telling me recently about walking out of Pablo’s and just as she popped her coke, she was passing by a guy that goes to her school and just as she went for a sip it splashed all over her face. And then my son is 8 years old and when we first moved here, I was involved with Art on the Square, he always called the Courthouse Art on the Square, which really it is. It’s
something we can all look at to be the symbol to know that it is home to us."

"Again, it’s so important to have so many people invested and all of ya’ll are stakeholders in preserving the history of our downtown and keeping that alive for future generations. The keys on your table show that you are all keys to our success.”

The Orgaization Committee did a fantastic job coordianting this event, Diane Lehr, chairperson and her committee orgainzed everything from the band, speakers, food, decor and the exquisite China the VIP tables were served on. An excellent job of team work was evident and only shows what a contribution Spirit of Athens has become.

Teresa Todd
January 31, 2011

Events SOA Sponsored and/or Co-Sponsored
Bunny Breakfast Easter Eggstravaganza
History Uncovered
5th of July Celebration
Art on the Square Preview & Silent Auction
Homecoming Celebration
Christmas Open House
SOA Commercial on Downtown

To see all Spirit of Athens Events throughout this year go to www.AthensPlus.com/athensevents.htm 

The Spirit of Athens, Alabama, is a non - profit organization dedicated to the renovation, revitalization and future growth of the city of Athens, Alabama downtown area.

Since its inception in March of 2006, the Spirit of Athens (SOA) organization has been exploring short and long term solutions to obtain economic, community, and cultural support for the organization’s objectives.

Currently, an active and diverse Board of Directors, an Executive Director with involvement from community and business members, are focusing on objectives for the coming year.

Executive Director: Trisha Black

Executive Committee and Board 2011

President: Derrick Young
Vice President: Teresa Todd
Secretary: Shane Black
Treasurer: Wyn Heisler
Carole Foret
Diane Lehr
Elizabeth McClary
Mac Martin
Tony McCormack
Jeb Lovvorn
Shannon Bryant
Milly Caudle
Letisha Brinkley

Organization: Chair Diane Lehr
Economic Restructuring: Chair Mac Martin
Design:  Chair: Heather Thompson
Promotion: Co-Chairs: Elizabeth McClary and Tiffany Seibert

Webmaster and Graphic Designer: Brent Hobbs
Membership Coordinator: Amanda Romine

The Spirit of Athens organization is using ideas and guidelines from the "National Main Street Project". The Project offers communities throughout the United States guidance on how to encourage economic development in older, traditional business districts. In addition, the Main Street approach advocates returning to community
self - reliance, based on the unique assets of local ownership, a friendly environment, and a sense of community.

To learn more call Trisha Black, SOA's Executive Director at 256-278-6436 or visit www.SpiritofAthens.com