Mary Beth Bass: Inspiration comes in all forms

Published 3:20 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Inspiration is a hard thing sometimes; it’s hard to find and even more difficult to articulate, particularly following the days and weeks after our most recent — Harvey, followed by Irma. While we have been largely spared compared to our neighbors, perhaps the greatest inspiration comes as a reflection of the resilience of our people, our kindness and support for one another, the helping hands that continue to work well past the point of exhaustion to make sure others are sheltered, with power, clothed and fed.
During times like these, there are many unsung heroes who will likely never be recognized. We all owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude. Yes, many are doing their jobs, but they are keeping us safe and protected — they are our first responders, law enforcement officers, emergency management and public officials, healthcare providers, and countless linemen representing all of our utility providers —power, cable, Internet, and telephone.
As many will leave Middle and South Georgia when restoration efforts are complete here to take care of our Floridian neighbors with almost total devastation in the Keys and elsewhere, it is appropriate to take a minute to say thanks, to make sure they all know how much we appreciate them. However, there are many here in Americus and Sumter County that deserve thanks for their unsung efforts on a daily basis. They, too, are an inspiration — with their ability and willingness to commit day-in and day-out to making Sumter County a better community, a more inviting, welcoming and inclusive community for our guests and residents.
As I’ve shared in previous columns, One Sumter’s Marketing & Communications Strategy Team has spent over a year working to develop a comprehensive marketing and branding campaign for Sumter County and all of its municipalities. With the leadership of a dynamic local production team — Nicole Kirksey, Ivy Oliver, Barbara Grogan, and Sandy Collins — we have been able to capture the unique assets and quality of life that make Sumter County truly, “Home Grown. World Renown.” Building on the new branding and marketing campaign for Sumter County that was announced in June, we have continued to build out our stock photography and videography library that will be utilized across the Southeast to promote our community and attractions. By enlisting the help of many of Sumter County’s businesses, restaurants and local institutions, we have brought the campaign to the community as countless individuals have embraced the spirit of the campaign and offered to give of their time, space and locations to help promote all that makes Sumter County unique — that’s truly an inspiration in and of itself!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank and recognize each and every one who has helped along the way for their support and enthusiasm for our campaign: Kimberly Ward at Anderson Station Restaurant in Andersonville; Bobby Salter at Plains Peanuts in Plains; Ruth Sanders, Plains Better Hometown, and all of the staff at Buffalo Café in Plains; Steve Miller at Little Brother’s Bistro; Nema Etheridge, Lee and Bill Harris at Café Campesino & Sweet Georgia Baking Company; Chuck Smith at The Maze; Vic Patel and The Windsor Hotel staff; Hannah Cannon and Matt Johnson at Wolf Creek Plantation Vineyard & Winery; Faith Pinnell and the use of her personal home at Lake Blackshear; Wayne Lyle and Lyle Farms; Elizabeth Kuipers, Ph.D., and Laura Gerlach’s class at Furlow Charter School; Stephen Snyder and the staff and students at Georgia Southwestern State University; Charles Christmas and Su Ann Bird at South Georgia Technical College; Elena Albamonte, Chuck Faaborg, and the baristas at Bittersweet Bookstore & Coffeehouse; Kat Mournighan and Robin Humphreys at Center Stage Market; Phil Vinson, Robin Humphreys, Chuck and Jennifer Wells at Mobile Glass Blowing Studios; Nema Etheridge, Hannah Mercer and Bill Harris Café Campesino Roastery; Bren Dubay at Koinonia Farms; Ray Bass, Clark Bass and Clark Bass at Bass Tire Service Station in DeSoto; Jody Mays at Andersonville National Historic Site; Beth Wright at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site; Ty Kinslow, Melanie Mathis and Shay Torbert’s class at Southland Academy; Clint Ledger and Helen Kilcrease at the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum in Leslie; Rick Barnes at Spring Creek Tavern (aka “Booger Bottom”) at Lake Blackshear; Pat Spann and Lori Elder at Pat’s Place; Kevin Phillips and Russ Smitley at Genesee & Wyoming; Elizabeth Warnock at 13th Colony Distillery; Chad Roberson at H2O Sports Manufacturing, LLC.
As the community came together to produce these talent-driven shots of Sumter County over the last few weeks, the City of Americus and Sumter County’s Tourism staff issued a casting call to get the community involved as part of the local “personality” and fabric of Sumter County. Responding to the call and sharing what they each loved about Sumter County and what “Home Grown. World Renown,” means to them, the following individuals served as extras for each of the production efforts. While I hope I’ve captured everyone here, I apologize in advance for any I may have missed. The local casting call yielded over 40 individuals who were willing to give of their time and talents to the campaign. Those individuals who embraced the campaign and wanted to become part of the brand itself are Tanya Reese, Miguel Carrenza, Sandy Collins, Brenda Phillip, Alexa Whitaker, Donavan Smalley, Courtney Harmon, Tamea Hawkins, Latonya Bowen, J’mari Bowen, Passion Thomas, Chelsea Collins, Kynslee Collins, Jackson Laird, Evan Ferguson, Ellie Ferguson, Linda Kidd, Jasper Poole, Nigel Poole, Emory Poole, Ella Wells, Laura Bower, Hudson Bellavia, Jessica Lynn Burns, Tom McFarland, Jill Honnecker, Abigail Stokes, Richard Thornton, Brian Mallard, Tonya Cannon, Marcus Harvey, Sierra Harvey, Cory Flegel, Angie Kiehlan, Qaijuan Willis, Steve Kennedy, Cheryl Kennedy, Carolyn Wright, Dr. Harvey Simpson, Jodi Simpson, Paul Hall, Ivy Oliver, Lane Oliver, Keelan Barkely, and Tomeshia Holt.
What an outstanding effort by all across Sumter County! Thank you for your time, for your love of our community, and for being our inspiration for “Home Grown. World Renown.”

Mary Beth Bass is executive director, One Sumter Economic Development Foundation Inc.