By SHERRY DIGMON
Two individuals and two businesses were honored at the 77th Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce Gala held Friday, January 20.
The following awards were presented.
Business of the Year
Presented by Breiah Adams
“The recipient for this year’s Business of the Year is one that has brought a little light, joy, and kindness to Atmore. Many businesses give back to the community throughout the year, but this business is completely built around giving back to a community that gives to it. What started out as young child’s dream became a reality almost five years ago.
It is a go-to place when shopping for gifts for special occasions or when you would just like to treat yourself. From the moment you walk in the door, you can feel the wonder and joy that fills the store and this continues with the warmth and kindness given by those behind the counter.
This store is a home goods store dedicated to brightening your home and sowing seeds of kindness and Jesus’ love through monthly donations throughout our community. Since opening its doors, this business has donated to Counsel on Aging for Elders, United Fund Atmore, We Are Family Home Care, Red Blue Barbecue, Shop With a Cop with the Atmore Police Department, Atmore Area Christian Care Ministries, and Escambia County High School FBLA [Future Business Leaders of America]. That’s just to name a few.
“They have donated numerous baskets and items for benefit auctions, as well as giving back through sponsorship to numerous schools in our area including Flomaton, Escambia County High School, Northview, Escambia Academy, and J.U. Blacksher.
“This store is a testament that if we put our trust in God with something as small as a mustard seed, He can grow it into something big and beautiful that spreads His love.
“Congratulations to our 2023 Business of the Year – The Philanthropic Seed.”
Philanthropic Seed owner Destany Morris was in tears as she made her way to the podium. The award caught her totally by surprise.
Lifetime Business Award
Presented by David Dobson
“This business was created in 1953 and has become a three-generation family-owned business that has been supporting the Atmore area for years.
“This business has worked behind the scenes on many projects and has donated to countless organizations.
“They have grown to service other areas within south Alabama and northwest Florida.
“This business has supported the Atmore area through employment opportunities for 70 years including one very notable employee for 49 years and counting.
“They have won awards throughout the years such as Readers Choice Award, Top Dealer of the Year, and a Dealer for 50 Years
“No matter if it is the dog days of summer or a cold frosty winter day, this business has answered our calls and made us comfortable.
“I would like to present the 2022 Lifetime Business Award to Coley’s Air Conditioning.”
The award was accepted by Judd Coley, the third generation in the Coley AC family (Judd Coley, Danny Coley, John Coley). He talked about the importance of employees in any business, but mentioned two at Coley – Romeo Coleman (almost 50 years with the company) and Terral Burkett (48 years at Coley).
Citizen of the Year
Presented by Ashley Mosley
“It Is my honor tonight to present the Citizen of the Year Award to a well-deserved individual. This year’s recipient ls a God-fearing woman who has dedicated her life to serving God, her family, her business, and her community. She is selfless and one of the most gracious people I know. This individual is involved in Atmore’s National Day of Prayer, and serves on numerous boards such as the Escambia County Child Advocacy Board, the Atmore Community Foundation Board, Smart Growth America Board, and Main Street Atmore Board. She is also an Alabama ProHealth member.
“While being active in the community, she is also one of the owners of a well-known community-involved business in Atmore. She is the driving force behind the company’s numerous donations and contributions to a multitude of fund-raising events that have supported all civic organizations in our community and the surrounding communities. You may find her serving at caterings for South Alabama Vending, to serving on the board at United Bank. She helps individuals young and old, from guiding students on how to receive scholarships and writing resumes, to helping young girls reach their dreams of attending college and being in sororities as well as helping the elderly and sick through visits, meals, and prayers. She is an active member in her church and is more than willing to assist in many fundraisers that have helped Atmore become a better place to work and live.
“From a personal standpoint I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today if not for her encouragement, influence, and her belief in me. She has been with me through some of the toughest
times in my life such as losing my dad and grandparents, to some of the happiest times in my life such as my marriage, the birth of my daughter, and the rededication of my life to Christ. I have always wanted the opportunity to express to her the impact she has made on my life as well as the lives of so many others.
On behalf of the Atmore community, the individuals who nominated her, and myself, I am honored to present this year’s Citizen of the Year Award to Dale Matthews Ash.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented by Elliott Faircloth and Mary Catherine Faircloth Moore
“This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award is being presented to someone who has called Atmore their home since his birth in 1958. He began his young life on Main Street, where he use to terrorize customers to the local stores as a toddler wearing his diaper and carrying a big stick! He also showed great entrepreneurship potential during his time on Main Street. He convinced his little sister to play like she was blind, and he took her up and down Main Street raising money for the operation to cure her. We are fortunate that his father took these little adventures as learning experiences and now he is a responsible businessman who has owned and operated 20 restaurants.
“It is also important that we mention here that he is an Eagle Scout. This is relevant because one of its tenets, which he embodies, is to help other people at all times. He is dedicated to helping other people and the community of Atmore.
“He has served as an active member on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, United Fund Board, Atmore Public Library Board, Escambia County Industrial Development Authority, West Escambia Utility Board and First National Bank and Trust Board. He was a graduate of the first Leadership Atmore program.
“He is a member of the First United Methodist Church where he is currently Lay Leader and sings in the choir.
“For several years, he, with the help of friends, kept the grounds of Heritage Park cut and free of debris and worked with the Atmore Historical Society on the renovation of its building.
“Through his restaurants, he is generous with his donations and time. Many a Monday night, David’s Catfish will be host to a fund raiser. He is a behind-the-scenes person, and many times people are unaware of the source of the donation.
“He is married to Sheilo, who is also from Atmore and is his partner in his dedication to helping others and especially their community. Currently in his life, he is proudest to be Bopa to 7 grandchildren. His daughter, Mary Catherine and her husband Owen Moore live in Birmingham. His son, Elliott is married to Kayleigh and they live in Atmore.
“He is currently grooming the next generation of community volunteers!
“The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award is Rob Faircloth.”
Never one to talk about himself, Rob Faircloth’s remarks were brief. He said Atmore has done more for him than he ever did for Atmore.
News photos courtesy of Clay Lisenby, The L House Photography, Brewton