Lives and stories of inspiration


Local women share grit and grace that make for successful lives

By Sherry Matthews - smatthews@civitasmedia.com



All photos by Sherry Matthews|Sampson Independent Women Who Inspire panelists Catherine Ezzell and Anne Faircloth watch fellow speaker Georgina Zeng give testimony in a video introduction prior to the hour-long discussion by the group that also included Cynthia Roberts and Gloria Andrews. Zeng advised: ‘Don’t get comfortable where you are; we can all be replaced.’


The Women Who Inspire panel - Gloria Andrews, Cynthia Roberts, Georgina Zeng, Catherine Ezzell and Anne Faircloth openly discuss their secrets to successfully running a business and juggling family and friendships during the opening event Friday at Sampson Community College


Anita Pope writes a message on the Advice to My Younger Self board, one of two set up in the Open Market, held between sessions at the Women Who Inspire creative conference last Friday. Some of the advice included: ‘You aren’t fat” and “never forget from whence you came.”


Artist Hope Smith works on a live painting while pianist Gloria Edwards entertains the audience prior to the Women Who Inspire creative conference luncheon featuring guest speaker Vivian Howard.


Women Who Inspire participants Ann McGill and Connie Williamson hang on tightly to their ‘Deep Run Roots’ cookbooks as they talk animatedly about how much they were enjoying the creative conference held at Sampson Community College Friday.


Panelist Cynthia Roberts: ‘Don’t let a failure be a fatality in your life.’


Anne Faircloth: ‘Sometimes it’s OK to be a nasty woman. Being called shrewd, aggressive and ambitious isn’t a bad thing.’


Catherine Ezzell: ‘Don’t be afraid; use what you’ve learned and find something that makes you happy.’


Ann Butler, Dean of Continuing Education at Sampson Community College, and Lisa Turlington, Executive Director of the SCC Foundation, assist Vivian Howard, author of ‘Deep Run Roots,’ owner of The Chef and the Farmer Restaurant and co-producer and star of ‘A Chef’s Life,’ sign nearly 200 copies of her cookbook before the Women Who Inspire luncheon.


Gloria Andrews: ‘Be intentional about spending time with your friends. Carve it out, enjoy it, it allows you to recharge your batteries and have a little fun.’


By Sherry Matthews

smatthews@civitasmedia.com

Mary Rose works in a man’s world. As director of the Clinton-Sampson Planning Department, her job lands her in the middle of many battles. Sometimes the outcomes win her accolades; other times sneers and jeers.

“I am sometimes perceived as too hard, but then again, there are some who think of me as too soft. I’m one of those women who has to find that good balance,” Rose attested.

Finding that balance and being around women who can relate to the day-in, day-out stresses she faces every day is one reason Rose said she enjoyed Friday’s Women Who Inspire creative conference, held at Sampson Community College. For her, and the nearly 200 other women in attendance, the conference offered opportunities for Rose to hear similar war stories from women who have — and still do — walk in shoes similar to her own.

“It was a unique kind of professional development right in our backyard,” Rose asserted. “It has been a very impressive day. I especially loved the panel discussion. I could really relate to a lot of what the women on the panel said. I know these women and it’s good to know I share similar stories with each of them.”

Those stories began with a panel discussion Friday morning featuring five very different, yet very similar women who shared their own stories of success and how they manage to balance that success with raising families, sharing strong friendships and being involved, from a civic standpoint, in their communities.

Speaking before a packed auditorium at SCC, Anne Faircloth (owner and manager of multiple agriculture and real estate businesses in Clinton), Catherinze Ezzell (Human Resource Manager for Ezzell Trucking), Georgina Zeng (owner of ELC Real Estate and a member of the Clinton City Board of Education), Gloria Andrews (director of Women on Mission at First Baptist Church, Wallace, and founder of Hearts of Hope) and Cynthia Roberts (owner of Quickbooks Plus and an administrator with Southeastern Outdoor Products), shared the grit and grace in open, honest testimony, using humor and pointed remarks to drive home their points.

Their stories began with a stunning black and white video, with each woman sharing her own inspirational message. The room was hushed as the video panned from Ezzell to Roberts, Zeng to Faircloth and finally to Andrews.

Heard as the video played were pearls of wisdom that each woman in the room seemed to absorb: “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” “Don’t worry so dang much,” “Don’t be afraid,” “Use what you’ve learned,” “Find something that makes you happy,” “Just let it happen,” “Relax and try not to worry so much about the consequences.”

“What a powerful way to begin a conference,” Dr. Paul Hutchins, president of SCC, remarkedafter the video as he welcomed the nearly 200 women to the creative conference, a joint partnership between SCC’s Small Business Center and the SCC Foundation and sponsored by Prestage Farms, Smithfield, Go Automotive, Southeastern Outdoor Products, Huff Orthopaedic, Caison Enterprises, Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, Duplin County Economic Development Commission, International Minuteman Press and James Sprunt Community College Small Business Center.

“Never before today have I been more of a thorn among so many roses, Hutchins noted, expressing tremendous gratitude to all the sponsors, but particularly, he said, to Amanda Bradshaw, director of the Small Business Center at SCC, Lisa Turlington, executive director of the SCC Foundation, and their planning committee who pulled off what he called “a wonderful and inspiring event.”

Leading the panel discussion, Turlington took to the dais to pose questions to the five women, all who eagerly jumped in with responses that had the audience at quiet and attentive and, at times, rolling with laughter.

What was their top piece of advice?

Andrews, telling a story of coping after her mother’s death, said it was important to “face things head on and deal with any issue right now.”

Faircloth added, “You need to go for it and stop hesitating because you think you can’t do something.” Telling the audience that Gov. Pat McCrory had just asked her to represent the agricultural community on a disaster relief committee for the state, Faircloth said she first hesitated, thinking she wasn’t qualified. “Then it dawned on me, if the governor thinks I can do it, then I should go for it.”

Georgina Zeng urged women not to be comfortable where they are, understanding that you can always be replaced. “One of my former bosses reminded me of that, and it’s true. We shouldn’t get too comfortable; you have to work hard and never assume someone else can’t do your job.”

Secrets to success?

Roberts: “Hard work. You have to put in the time. Nothing falls in your lap.”

Zeng: “You have to work hard, whenever it is needed and wherever it is needed.”

Ezzell: “Write things down and then systematically check everything off. I’m a list person, but it works for me and I get a great deal accomplished. You don’t forget things that way, they don’t fall through the cracks.”

Friends

Andrews: “‘Be intentional about spending time with your friends. Carve that time out, enjoy it, it allows you to recharge your batteries and have a little fun.’

Faircloth: “Be grounded by your friends. Life sometimes gets in the way, but you need to find time to spend with them. They are the ones who remember you and take you, warts and all.”

Being civic-minded

Ezzell: “Being active in the community is important and humbling. It makes you well-rounded and it allows you to be part of something bigger than yourself, something that truly makes an impact on the lives of others.”

Zeng: “Being involved in the community is imperative. This is a great community and I want to give back to those who have given so much to me. Who I am is because of this community. They were always there for me … now it is my turn.”

When is it OK to break the rules?

Andrews: Sometimes it’s OK to do something different. Just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean we still have to. That kind of rule is meant to be broken. Don’t be bound by rules.”

Faircloth: “Sometimes it’s OK to be a nasty woman. I’ve been called shrewd, aggressive and ambitious, but we all have to learn that it is OK to be called those things. Men take those as compliments; we should, too.”

Time management tips:

Roberts: “Stop letting your phone run your life.”

Ezzell: “Use your calendar and write things down.”

Andrews: “Make lists.”

Recharging your batteries?

Faircloth: “Believe it or not, I’m in bed every week night by 9 p.m. Getting a good night’s rest really helps. When I was Catherine’s age, I thought I could do it all on little rest. Today I know better.”

Zeng: “Spend time with your friends. It helps you decompress.”

Roberts: “Travel, shop, unwind with your friends.”

Ezzell: Take long runs, go to spin class or do some type of exercise. Take some quiet time for yourself.”

Recommend a book:

Roberts: “Hidden Figures”

Faircloth: “Lean In”

Zeng: “Joy Luck Club”

Ezzell: “The Year of Yes”

Andrews: “Killing Reagan,” “Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Kennedy”

Final words

Leaning in to get more personal with the group, Roberts stressed the importance of loving yourself. “You have to learn to embrace your natural self. As a black woman, I had to do that, but we all should. The biggest gift you can give yourself is to love who you are. Don’t let a failure be a fatality in your life.”

And Andrews added, “If you have the opportunity, mentor a young lady. Search them out and help them. It matters.”

Following the panel discussion, the women attending filled classrooms for two of six breakout sessions being conducted by presenters Jeanne Eury, Mike Collins, Robin Palmer, Rebecca Lee, Lee Woodard and Bob Moore.

Reaction

“I’m having a great time,” exclaimed Dorothy Sue Faison after attending the breakout sessions. “I loved everything from the panel discussion to the sessions. It has been a wonderful day.”

That day was capped off with the luncheon, which featured Vivian Howard, owner of The Chef and the Farmer restaurant in Kinston, co-producer and star of the PBS series “A Chef’s Life,” and now author of the best-selling book “Deep Run Roots.”

“Vivian was an added attraction,” Faison asserted. “We love her and I’m excited about getting and reading her book.”

That book, signed by the author, herself, was presented to all the women who purchased tickets to the nearly day-long event.

“I can’t wait to give into this,” noted Rose, who got an upfront seat at the luncheon to hear Howard.

“This has been a simply amazing day, and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it. It is wonderful to share with women who have similar stories to your own. You get to see that you aren’t in this alone.”

And that is why Bradshaw, who came up with the conference idea initially, wanted to harness the momentum and make the event a reality.

“Personally, I think this has been even greater than I thought it was going to be, and I thought it would be great,” Bradshaw exclaimed, her ever-present smile brightening the room. “This has been way more than I even dreamed. But this wasn’t just me. It takes a village to put something like this together and I am thankful for every single person who had a hand in making it possible.”

Ditto Turlington, who applauded the day’s event. “The presenters were excellent, the panelists were amazing and Vivian Howard was the cherry on the sundae. I think everyone got far more out of this than they even thought they would, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Reach publisher and editor Sherry Matthews at 910-249-4612. Follow her on Twitter @sieditor1960; follow the paper @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

All photos by Sherry Matthews|Sampson Independent Women Who Inspire panelists Catherine Ezzell and Anne Faircloth watch fellow speaker Georgina Zeng give testimony in a video introduction prior to the hour-long discussion by the group that also included Cynthia Roberts and Gloria Andrews. Zeng advised: ‘Don’t get comfortable where you are; we can all be replaced.’
All photos by Sherry Matthews|Sampson Independent Women Who Inspire panelists Catherine Ezzell and Anne Faircloth watch fellow speaker Georgina Zeng give testimony in a video introduction prior to the hour-long discussion by the group that also included Cynthia Roberts and Gloria Andrews. Zeng advised: ‘Don’t get comfortable where you are; we can all be replaced.’

The Women Who Inspire panel – Gloria Andrews, Cynthia Roberts, Georgina Zeng, Catherine Ezzell and Anne Faircloth openly discuss their secrets to successfully running a business and juggling family and friendships during the opening event Friday at Sampson Community College
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire-panel.jpgThe Women Who Inspire panel – Gloria Andrews, Cynthia Roberts, Georgina Zeng, Catherine Ezzell and Anne Faircloth openly discuss their secrets to successfully running a business and juggling family and friendships during the opening event Friday at Sampson Community College

Anita Pope writes a message on the Advice to My Younger Self board, one of two set up in the Open Market, held between sessions at the Women Who Inspire creative conference last Friday. Some of the advice included: ‘You aren’t fat” and “never forget from whence you came.”
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire9.jpgAnita Pope writes a message on the Advice to My Younger Self board, one of two set up in the Open Market, held between sessions at the Women Who Inspire creative conference last Friday. Some of the advice included: ‘You aren’t fat” and “never forget from whence you came.”

Artist Hope Smith works on a live painting while pianist Gloria Edwards entertains the audience prior to the Women Who Inspire creative conference luncheon featuring guest speaker Vivian Howard.
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire12.jpgArtist Hope Smith works on a live painting while pianist Gloria Edwards entertains the audience prior to the Women Who Inspire creative conference luncheon featuring guest speaker Vivian Howard.

Women Who Inspire participants Ann McGill and Connie Williamson hang on tightly to their ‘Deep Run Roots’ cookbooks as they talk animatedly about how much they were enjoying the creative conference held at Sampson Community College Friday.
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire13.jpgWomen Who Inspire participants Ann McGill and Connie Williamson hang on tightly to their ‘Deep Run Roots’ cookbooks as they talk animatedly about how much they were enjoying the creative conference held at Sampson Community College Friday.

Panelist Cynthia Roberts: ‘Don’t let a failure be a fatality in your life.’
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire6.jpgPanelist Cynthia Roberts: ‘Don’t let a failure be a fatality in your life.’

Anne Faircloth: ‘Sometimes it’s OK to be a nasty woman. Being called shrewd, aggressive and ambitious isn’t a bad thing.’
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire4.jpgAnne Faircloth: ‘Sometimes it’s OK to be a nasty woman. Being called shrewd, aggressive and ambitious isn’t a bad thing.’

Catherine Ezzell: ‘Don’t be afraid; use what you’ve learned and find something that makes you happy.’
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire3.jpgCatherine Ezzell: ‘Don’t be afraid; use what you’ve learned and find something that makes you happy.’

Ann Butler, Dean of Continuing Education at Sampson Community College, and Lisa Turlington, Executive Director of the SCC Foundation, assist Vivian Howard, author of ‘Deep Run Roots,’ owner of The Chef and the Farmer Restaurant and co-producer and star of ‘A Chef’s Life,’ sign nearly 200 copies of her cookbook before the Women Who Inspire luncheon.
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire11.jpgAnn Butler, Dean of Continuing Education at Sampson Community College, and Lisa Turlington, Executive Director of the SCC Foundation, assist Vivian Howard, author of ‘Deep Run Roots,’ owner of The Chef and the Farmer Restaurant and co-producer and star of ‘A Chef’s Life,’ sign nearly 200 copies of her cookbook before the Women Who Inspire luncheon.

Gloria Andrews: ‘Be intentional about spending time with your friends. Carve it out, enjoy it, it allows you to recharge your batteries and have a little fun.’
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_inspire7.jpgGloria Andrews: ‘Be intentional about spending time with your friends. Carve it out, enjoy it, it allows you to recharge your batteries and have a little fun.’
Local women share grit and grace that make for successful lives

By Sherry Matthews

smatthews@civitasmedia.com

Reach publisher and editor Sherry Matthews at 910-249-4612. Follow her on Twitter @sieditor1960; follow the paper @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach publisher and editor Sherry Matthews at 910-249-4612. Follow her on Twitter @sieditor1960; follow the paper @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

comments powered by Disqus