Honoring those who support others
It was a day to say thank you.
A number of people packed into the Henderson Country Club on Wednesday to honor those who keep government, schools and businesses alike running smoothly.
Administrative Professionals’ Day — which started in 1952 as Secretary’s Day — celebrated the area’s support staff. The Henderson-Vance County, Warren, Granville and Franklin chambers of commerce and the Small Business Center sponsored the event.
Kim Jackson, administrative assistant with Vance-Granville Community College, said she had a good time.
“It was very nice,” she said. “I enjoyed it all.”
The main draw was keynote speaker Pat Mitchell, assistant director for rural economic development at the state Department of Commerce.
She said her own administrative assistant — a woman who has been on her staff for about three weeks — has made her own life immeasurably easier and more organized.
“To all of you out there that work in those roles, in professional roles, regardless of the organization, I want to tell you just how important that is,” Mitchell said. “We’ll come together once a year in a setting like this to applaud that. I hope that, as you go about the community, the community members and the people that you work for say thank you more than just once a year; I’m sure they probably do.
“But it’s an extremely important role that you play in a community that needs good people, that needs people that can perform the functions that you do, that can help run the organizations that you do and make a difference in communities.”
That theme of giving back to the places people live and work wove through Mitchell’s talk. She said throughout her career — which has ranged from a stay-at-home mom and school board member to professor and economic development director — she has remembered a couple life lessons her father taught her when she was just 8 years old, living in rural Michigan.
The first was about responsibility. As a young girl, she and her friends would pick strawberries and cucumbers and dig potatoes for local farmers.
Though she had promised to finish picking cucumbers for one, Mitchell planned to switch over to another who paid more, but her father made her reconsider.
“He said, well, Pat — and it’s a Kodak moment; I can see him standing there — he said, I think maybe if you told Mr. Parrish you’re going to pick the cucumbers, you better stay and pick the cucumbers,” Mitchell said. “So the next several days, I stayed and picked the cucumbers. My friends went down and dug potatoes at Mr. Callahan’s and made more money than I did. But I learned a very important lesson. … Good communities have responsible individuals.”
The second lesson was about what Mitchell called civic rent.
She said she didn’t understand what her father meant by that until years later, but it forms the foundation for good relationships, good towns and good organizations.
“One day it struck me as I was involved in some local activities — and, actually, it was with a chamber organization — that this is what Father was talking about,” Mitchell said. “When you pay civic rent, you give back to your communities. It doesn’t matter how you’re doing it, but good communities are made of good people who are about their community and people that are willing to give back.”
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