NEWBERRY — The Newberry Housing Authority inducted five new members into the 2018 Wall of Fame, an honor that recognizes individuals who grew up in the Housing Authority and have continued to give back to their community.
Wall of Fame induction ceremonies are held every two years, this is the second year a ceremony has been held.
The 2018 Wall of Fame Recipients were Duane Abney, Gloria Boutte, Steve Coleman, Henry Counts and Travis Dawkins. An induction presentation was also given in memory of Willie Sims Jr., who was employed by the Housing Authority for 33 years.
Jan Piersol, Newberry Housing Authority executive director, said joining the Wall of Fame goes through a committee who will then contact the recipient.
“We have a committee that goes through, we have a list of names and they are nominated and contacted to see if they are willing to receive the award,” she said.
Piersol added that by having individuals inducted into the Wall of Fame, children can make something out of their lives all while living in public housing.
“The hope is to give our children incentive that they can live in public housing and make something special out of their lives,” she said.”I hope this means something to them (the recipients), the recipients that have received in the past have given back say at Christmas and are doing a lot of things for the children around the complex, so this is something to help the children to know that they can have goals they can reach for.”
Tonya Deese-Jeter is no stranger to receiving the honor, as she is a 2016 Wall of Fame Recipient.
“I just like seeing that, I hate to say it, the older group get it versus the younger generation, just to see the people where they are now and knowing them and knowing that they came from the same place that I came from, I had no idea that some of these people came from Grants,” she said.
Deese-Jeter wants the younger generation to know there is hope for them and there are no limits to what they can do.
“I work at the Alternative School, so I’ve had some of my kids that actually live here see my picture and ask me questions about it and say ‘Is there hope for us?’ there’s always hope for everybody, just wake up and make sure that you are responsible for you and where you want to go in the future and that the future is up to you, there are no limits,” she said.
Henry Counts, 2018 Wall of Fame Recipient, said he is excited, fortunate and humbled to be part of the Wall of Fame.
“It’s just an awesome feeling. I spent six or seven years of my life growing up here, it was a nice community, a loving and nurturing community and a lot of the skill sets I learned here as a kid are some of those very same skills that have allowed me to have a pretty decent life for myself. I’m excited, honored, but I’m also humbled that I’ve been fortunate enough to go and try to make the best life I could make,” he said. “I think we all have a moral obligation to try to positively impact somebody’s life while we’re on this earth, my dad always said that’s how you build a legacy.”
Receiving the Wall of Fame induction was especially important for Duane Abney.
“Receiving the Wall of Fame induction was very special to me because I grew up in the area and it was difficult getting out. I had a lot of distractions, but I found a way to get over those distractions and become a musician and become a nurse and work hard, so this is a big honor for me,” he said. “It’s a great honor and I’m just flabbergasted about it, it’s made me feel like I’ve made it.”
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.