I am truly honored to receive this award.  

I want to thank my family for the support they continue to give me every day. My husband, son and sister are here tonight.   

I want to thank my Commissioners.  The Commissioners of the Public Works of the City of Spartanburg and the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District for the support they give me in running Spartanburg Water.  They are dedicated public officials who give of their personal time and efforts to support this community.   

And I want to thank my team at Spartanburg Water.  These are the individuals who work 24/7/365 to ensure this community has water and wastewater services.  A number of them are here this evening to support me and I appreciate all that they do for the community.   

To paraphrase one of my heroes (or she-roes, as I like call them), Eleanor Roosevelt: the best awards are not about people. They are not about events. They are about ideas. 

I'm grateful for the recognition. But I really want to use this brief opportunity to highlight what drives me. 

And that’s the spirit of Spartanburg, which can be distilled down into four little words. 

Reaching Out. Lifting Up.

 Tonight I want to leave you with a message that highlights and recognizes Spartanburg's strong legacy of doing just that.

 Reaching Out. And Lifting Up.

Those four words were my goal when I served as the first woman chair of this Chamber, and we should all carry on the commitment of those who have helped make Spartanburg a welcoming and strong business community. 

Our community has proven that it can rise above what has characterized and plagued other Southern cities. We fight for change. It might not be easy for all of us to embrace. But we do. 

Richard Tukey served as the Executive Director of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce from 1951 until 1979.   He was the driving force behind the efforts of many to attract foreign investment to the Upstate.   Tukey went overseas and developed a wide network of business contacts in Europe.   

He Reached Out.  

 He helped companies establish a U.S. base in Spartanburg. 

 He lifted up.

He ensured that they had what they needed – housing, bank loans and other support.   

As a result of his reach out and lifting up of others, our region is one of the leaders in foreign direct investment.   That investment has brought many jobs and lifted our community.   

I want to share another story; 

In November of 1936 a small, committed group of community leaders assembled a community meeting on the campus of Converse College.   The Herald Journal printed a full page invitation that stated “in one single swoop the loyal citizenry of Spartanburg will be called upon to raise the sum of $41,805 to care for all of Spartanburg’s needy and insure support for charitable institutions so necessary to our social structure.”   Those community leaders chose to reach out and lift up the community with their actions.   

That meeting was the beginning of the United Way in Spartanburg and while the collection of $41,000 did not solve all the community needs.   It provided the cornerstone to future annual campaigns that provide funding to more than 75 programs that support our citizens in different ways.   Every dollar invested by our community today returns $6.30 in services.   This is a generous community that

reaches out and lifts up.    

I accept this award on behalf of those who are part of our history and built our community and those who are part of our present.   To all those

 Reaching Out. And Lifting Up.

 Our community is special . 

We champion diversity. We fight for the right ideas. 

We are welcoming. We challenge each other. 

And, ultimately, that’s why we’re One Spartanburg. And I’m so proud to be a part of this community. 

The Neville Holcombe Award is about vision. About new ideas. This is my tap on the shoulder to keep going. But it’s also a tap on your shoulders, as well. 

We stand on those shoulders of those who came before us.  And we continue to

Reach Out. And Lift Up.

 Thank you.