Rose Andrews, who works at Johnston Community College, said she thought she was attending the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce’s annual award ceremony to represent David Johnson, the college’s president.
A co-worker called her and asked her could she fill in because the college may receive an award and Johnson couldn’t make it. But when she arrived to the ceremony, Johnson was there.
“I’m like ‘OK, something is amuck here,’” Andrews said.
However, she still didn’t realize what was to come. Andrews received the Chamber’s “Woman of the Year” award for her continuous commitment to education for women and contributions to the community.
“It’s such an honor,” Andrews said. “You think about the things you do in the course of your everyday work and you don’t see it as worthy of accolades or any kind of things like that. But I was shocked. It was very nice.
“To me it means that someone was paying attention to the work that I’ve been doing for a while, and while to me it was everyday, they thought it was special.”
A native of Dillon, S.C., Andrews is currently the director of economic development at Johnston Community College. At JCC, she’s assisted the unemployed in seeking job skills, counseled entrepreneurs, scheduled seminars and trained employees.
Man of the Year
Chris Ellington, the Cleveland volunteer fire chief, also expressed surprise when he was chosen as “Man of the Year.” He said he didn’t realize he had won the award until the presenter started to read some of the accomplishments of the chief.
Ellington thought he’d just be accepting an award for the department as a whole. He had a speech prepared where he planned to talk about the growth of the community and how the department was preparing for it.
“I honestly didn’t say anything about what I had prepared,” Ellington said. “I was astonished and just amazed to receive the award.”
Not only has Ellington and his department put out fires, but they have been a service organization in the community. In July, the Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department organized and hosted Celebrate Cleveland, a July 4th celebration for the Cleveland community.
Ellington was also recognized for his efforts in supporting schools in the local community. He is a Johnston County native. Ellington graduated from South Johnston High School and currently lives in the Cleveland community with his wife and their 9-year-old son.
“It means a lot,” Ellington said. “A lot of people in our department work hard for the community. It means a lot to be recognized by the Chamber of Commerce as the Man of the Year. It’s a tremendous honor. I’ve got some big shoes to fill and I look forward to it.”
The Man and Woman of the Year awards were among many awards given out Tuesday night. Amanda Fisher, a West Johnston High School teacher, was named “Teacher of the Year.”
David Hall, of Four Oaks Bank, received “Director of the Year.” The Cleveland Fire Department won “Volunteer of the Year.” Halls & Gardens at the Landmark, which is where the event was hosted, won “Small Business of the Year,” and Simple Twist won “Business of the Year.”
The awards ceremony also signaled the passing of the gavel for the board of directors president. Outgoing president Traci Atkinson passed the gavel to Simple Twist owner, Colleen Roby.