Paying it forward

By Sherry Matthews Editor

March 21, 2014

Larry McPhail wants to do things that people will remember, not as an accolade to himself or his company, Ford of Clinton, but because of the difference it makes within a community.

That’s why when Raymond Spell, director of Sampson County’s Parks and Recreation Department, approached him last year about helping provide scoreboards for the county’s athletic fields, he jumped at the opportunity to do his part and even more.

McPhail believes, he said, in paying it forward, sharing some of that he’s been blessed to receive with others. “I used to work with this guy who always told me ‘the more you give, the more you get,’ and he’s right — what you get out of giving comes back in so many enriching ways. The thanks, the smiles, knowing you’ve done something to help out your community, that’s what it’s all about,” McPhail said as he and Spell unveiled the latest scoreboard, this one heading to Clement, fulfilling that community’s need for a second board on its five small fields.

Spell said he approached McPhail a little over a year ago, pitching the idea of helping the county recreation department in some way. “The scoreboards were part of our long-range goal. We had ball fields that didn’t have scoreboards and we really wanted them. It provides that game atmosphere for the kids and the parents, alike,” Spell said.

“I reached out to Larry to find out what he could or would do in partnership with us regarding the scoreboard project, and he didn’t hesitate at all. He is committed to this project and, in fact, he’s even said once we’ve done this he will continue to help us with future projects.”

Last year, McPhail assisted the rec department in getting three scoreboards erected — one in Newton Grove, one in Clement and another in Roseboro. This year, he asked that another go to Clement, a community that had initially requested more than one.

Besides that, he pointed out, Clement holds a special place in his heart, much like recreation ball does.

“My mother and father grew up in the Clement community. My dad grew up in Bethabara Church. I know a lot of folks in that community very well, so it seemed right somehow.”

But the giving won’t stop in Clement. McPhail, the recreation director said, was committed to completing the scoreboard project. “And when that project’s done, Larry is ready and willing to do more.”

His willingness to give, McPhail interjected, stems in part from his love for recreation, activities he fondly recalls being a part of as he grew up.

“I remember playing in the Pee Wee leagues, football and baseball, and the fun I had has stuck with me. When Raymond came to me last year and we started talking about the scoreboards, I felt like this would be a good way for me to give my support, to be involved, to do something that would be around for a long time.”

The boards, at 5 feet by 10 feet, complete with LED lighting and wireless remotes, have a life expectancy of 10-20 years.

“These are very nice scoreboards,” McPhail said, pointing out that he had been to all three areas to see the boards.

Spell concurred, offering his thanks again to McPhail for his willingness to help the recreation department and, thus, the hundreds of kids who participate in sports offered through that department.

“When these kids see that scoreboard and notice the Ford of Clinton sign, you have no idea what kind of impact it will have. Some might remember it when they grow up and decide they want to work for a company like that; others might decided that giving back is something they should do too, having been a recipient of such giving. You just don’t know how it touches a kid, but it does touch them, I believe that,” Spell said.

He then added, “What Larry has done, and is continuing to do, is invaluable to us as a department and the community as a whole. Putting up these scoreboards, at somewhere around $9,000 a pop, is something we could not have done without his contribution. The giving mindset of a guy like Larry is priceless, really priceless.”

Leaning forward and opening his desk drawer, McPhail pulls out scads of tickets — fundraising plate sales and raffles — and smiles. “I believe in supporting the community, I really do. I try to do as much as I can as often as I can. If you don’t support the community around you, they’re not going to support you,” he said.

A Kiwanian and a Mason, McPhail also understands the importance of giving back. “I love that movie ‘Pay it Forward.’ It has real meaning to me, and I really believe in paying it forward. I’ve been really blessed and it’s my responsibility to give back to others some of what I’ve been given. These scoreboards, buying these tickets, that’s all part of me giving back,” McPhail said.