Oxford’s Bryant earns Governor’s Medallion

Apr. 29, 2013 @ 04:57 PM

Susan Bryant of Oxford was one of 21 individuals to receive the Governor’s Medallion in a ceremony on April 23 in Raleigh.

In making the awards, Gov. Pat McCrory said, “Our state prides itself on a spirit of service and stewardship. We should celebrate these exceptional volunteers for making a difference in their community by giving their personal time, talent and energy to make a lasting impact.”

The Governor’s Medallion is the state’s highest award for volunteer service.

Bryant was recognized for contributing more than 40 hours per week at Area Congregations in Ministry in Oxford.

Bryant said she was expecting a representative of the governor’s office to make the awards and was surprised when Gov. McCrory presented them himself.

Bryant was also recognized by the Granville County Board of Commissioners on April 15.

Commissioner Tony Cozart presented her a plaque for her years of dedication to ACIM. The accompanying resolution said Bryant’s efforts made possible the distribution of 283,300 pounds of food and $110,400 to people in Granville County.

Bryant said receiving the award from the governor was an honor, but added, “Being acknowledged by the people you work and live with is extra special.”

Bryant was born in Newport, R.I., but grew up in a number of places as her father pursued his education and a university teaching career.

One stop was a two-year stint in Mexico when Bryant was in middle school. She became fluent in Spanish, an asset she has found valuable in relating to ACIM’s Hispanic clients.

After high school, Bryant earned a bachelor’s degree in rural sociology from Cornell University and a master’s degree in reading from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

She and her then-husband moved to Oxford nine years ago, when he took a job with IBM in the Research Triangle. They have since divorced. They have one adult son.

For the past seven years, Bryant has worked as a volunteer with ACIM. It started when she met Sue Hinman, director of ACIM, at the Oxford Presbyterian Church.

Bryant started as an intake counselor at ACIM. Since then, her responsibilities have grown to include supervising volunteers and maintaining three data bases to keep track of volunteer hours, poundage of food distributed and the tonnage of food received from Food Lion.

“The job was a lifesaver for me,” Bryant said.

Hinman, the only paid ACIM employee, said, “It takes about 15 volunteers each day just to open. On the average, we serve 36 families a day.”

A major responsibility Bryant carries is to coordinate the activities of those volunteers.

“Our volunteers are dedicated,” she said. “We have a core group that has been here for years.”

A large part of the food ACIM distributes comes from the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a federal program that provides food and other nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families.

ACIM also receives donations of food from churches, businesses and individuals.

“Food Lion has been generous,” Bryant said.

Financial support comes from the United Way, churches and grants.

Ironically, as support has dropped during the economic recession, demand has increased.

“At one time we received eight pallets of canned goods a month from TEFAP,” Bryant said. “Now it’s two.”

ACIM occupies the former Granville Hosiery Company building at 634 Roxboro Road. The family rents the building to ACIM at what Bryant describes as “a very reasonable rate.”

Bryant said she is no longer putting in the 40-hour weeks cited in the Governor’s Medallion award.

“I had to take a paying job,” she said.

She is now working part-time at the Granville County Senior Center.

But she has not severed her links to ACIM.

“We do good work here,” she said. “We see 6,000 individuals a year. That’s about 11 percent of the population of Granville County.”

She is committed to ACIM and to Granville County.

“People ask me, ‘Are you moving.’ I say, ‘No, I’m staying right here. Its the best place to be.’

“When you have a community that supports an agency like ACIM, when you have a community that cares about people who are needy, it’s a special place.”


Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.