January 29, 2011

A House United

As chairman of the board for the South Baldwin Chamber Foundation, I had the chance to speak at the annual Chamber Gala last night. Here's the text, for those who might be interested.

Good Evening. Thank you Donna for that lovely introduction. As Donna said, my name is Steve Pankey and I currently serve as chairman for the board of directors of the South Baldwin Chamber Foundation. I'd like to begin my remarks this evening by thanking each of you for your generosity of time and money to help make the South Baldwin Chamber Foundation the preeminent education foundation in Baldwin County. Please give yourselves a round of applause.
The entire staff at the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce deserves our thanks for the successes of the Chamber Foundation, but two women need to be highlighted. Mrs. Jeannette Lawrence, Director of Development and Mrs. Terry Burkle, Vice President of the Chamber Foundation. Please join me in thanking them. Because of their hard work in a down economy with unprecedented stresses, the Foundation maintained the many programs focus on enrichment, leadership development, dropout prevention, drug prevention, and parental involvement.
We are blessed to have a board that is engaged and excited about the work of the Foundation. Would the members of the Board please stand up? Please help me thank these board members for volunteering their time and talents to the Chamber Foundation.
While everyone works together to make this Foundation great, there is one member who deserves an extra special thanks, our outgoing Chair-woman, Lolly Holk. Lolly, would you please join me here on stage? Lolly has been a tremendous asset to the board since 2005 and has demonstrated great leadership, knowledge, compassion, and commitment; serving not just one but two consecutive terms as chair. In my two years on the Board, she has taken me under her wing and taught me the ins and outs of education in the Foley Feeder Pattern, and I am proud to consider her among my list of friends. Please join me in thanking our outgoing Chair-woman, Mrs. Lolly Holk.
Now, as most of you know, I am a preacher. So if you give me a podium and a microphone, preaching just happens, and in order to preach, I need a text. As I reflect on the accomplishments of the Foundation in 2010, I'm drawn to Mark's Gospel and the line immortalized in this part of the country on more license plates than I could have ever imagined, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” For too long the state of education in Baldwin County has been one of a house divided. The folks on the Eastern Shore and along the Gulf have been thankful they aren't from Foley and the folks from Foley thank God they aren't from Central or North Baldwin, and our rural communities have developed a well deserved chip on their shoulder. It lead to a mess of monumental proportions as the house divided threatened to collapse upon itself.
That all changed in late 2009 and 2010 as our Foundation played an instrumental role in the formation of the Baldwin County Education Coalition, a collaboration of seven local enrichment foundations that together serve every Baldwin County student. The Coalition’s successes include:
Successfully lobbying the Baldwin County Board of Eduction to proform a national search for a new superintendent
Served as the steering committee behind the successful emergency one-cent sales tax referendum to support Baldwin County Public Schools.
The mission of the Baldwin County Education Coalition is to engage community stakeholders in public educaiton and to advocate with one voice for the success of every child in Baldwin County. Synonymous with that mission is the Coalitions current project, YES WE CAN BALDWIN COUNTY, a community engagement model involving citizens in education reform with proven success in communities all across Alabama and resulting in a co-owned comprehensive strategic plan.
Through the leadership and vision of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Foundation was established to focus on education enrichment, leadership development, and community betterment. In 2011 as we stand at the advent of a new vision, seeking to make education THE top priority for local, state, and federal leaders, Baldwin County stands as a house united, established on the truth that education is the foundation to a sustainable and resilient community. Thank you in advance for your continued support.

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