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On Wednesday, August 7, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will honor McChesney and Webb for their dedication to service at the annual Governor’s Service Awards banquet at the Charleston Civic Center. The banquet is held as a part of Faces of Leadership, the annual state volunteerism conference. Presented since 1995, the Governor’s Service Awards honors individuals, families and organizations that exemplify outstanding dedication to volunteerism and community service in West Virginia. McChesney is one of two recipients in the Adult category and Webb receives her award in the Youth category.
Several years ago, Thomas McChesney made a decision to play a part in the revitalization of Huntington. He has worked hard and recruited many others to help him on this mission. He and his wife started the Chat-n-Chew sessions that have served as an incubator of both ideas and enthusiasm. The weekly sessions have become a forum for the public to discuss problems and potential in Huntington and develop community-based solutions. “At Chat-n-Chew, folks become engaged, impassioned and involved in making Huntington grow and prosper,” said Tyson Compton who nominated McChesney for the award.
The crowning jewel of McChesney’s commitment and perseverance has been the revitalization of Huntington’s Heritage Station. The historic station had long been forgotten, but working with the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District and the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau McChesney developed and implemented a plan to convert the station into a vibrant artisan retail complex. This came to fruition in 2012 and the retail center is now filled with unique shops that specialize in works by local artists, a wine and cheese store, a bakery, a yoga studio and a wine bar, just to name a few. The station courtyard also hosts community events including concerts and outdoor movies.
“When Thomas sees a good idea in another part of the state or the country, he puts his mind to finding a way to make it work in Huntington,” said Laura Gilliam of the United Way of the Three Rivers. Savor Huntington was one of those ideas. McChesney proposed and created an association of independent restaurants in an effort to make Huntington a dining destination. The association now boasts 10 members. McChesney finds time to help spur entrepreneurial activity. He assisted in the creation of the Entrepreneur’s Café and working with Vision Shared has help export this idea and the crowdfunding that goes with it to other parts of the state. He also serves with a number of organizations including the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Vision Shared Entrepreneurship Committee, the Small Business Advisory Committee and the City of Huntington Digital City Committee.
Tiffani Webb may only recently have graduated high school, but she has packed a lot of community service into her life! Each month in 2012, she selected a different nonprofit organization to help. She promoted each project and coordinated collection drives for the needs of these organizations. Collections ranged from baked goods for veterans at the VA home to eyeglasses for the Lions Club; from hats and gloves for the homeless to hygiene kits for the school backpack program. Tiffani has also been involved with the Marshall Medical outreach group which offers free medical care to the homeless. She also collected more than 2000 books, movies and games for River Park Hospital’s Psychiatric Pediatric Unit significantly expanding their library and media center.
The Governor’s Service Awards are administered by Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service. A volunteer review committee reads and selects the recipients on the basis of achievement, community needs, continuing involvement, innovation and impact of service.
Other recipients of the 2013 Governor’s Service Awards include, by category:
Ø Lifetime Achievement: Delbert “Duke” Horstemeyer, Hancock County; Ruth Thayer, Wayne County
Ø Adult: Nancy Kissinger, Raleigh County;
Ø Senior: Larry Rogers, Logan County; Gloria Martin, Greenbrier County
Ø Family: Pamela and James McPeak, Monroe County
Ø National Service: Colleen Barnhart, Pleasants County
Ø Organization: Alderson Ministerial Association, Greenbrier County; Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group, Boone County; The Carpenter’s Corner, Raleigh County
For tickets to the awards banquet, or information about the conference, contact Moya Doneghy at (304) 558-0111 or 1-800-WV-HELPS, or by email at email@example.com.