Made­line Burgess: Vol­un­teer of the year

The Covington News - - LOCAL - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­news.com

Made­line Burgess is 81 years old and still en­joys tak­ing a 5K-run and vows to re­main ac­tive in her mind and body. This vow trans­lated into mak­ing her city of So­cial Cir­cle a bet­ter place to live in, and her fel­low res­i­dents have not over­looked her ef­forts.

Burgess was named the 2014 Henry Pilcher Vol­un­teer of the Year by the Main Street ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee and will be rec­og­nized at a re­cep­tion at the Wel­come Cen­ter on June 17 at 5:30 p.m. be­fore a for­mal pre­sen­ta­tion at the coun­cil meet­ing at 6:30 p.m.

Burgess, the wife of for­mer Mayor Jim Burgess, was cho­sen from six nom­i­nees by 15 board mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to Mike Miller, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of So­cial Cir­cle Main Street.

Miller said she stood above the rest for her work with the De­sign and Preser­va­tion Com­mit­tee, the Clean City So­cial Cir­cle Com­mit­tee and the city news­let­ter. She has been on the Bet­ter Home­town Board for 15 and a half years and is a found­ing mem­ber of the Main Street Board.

The award be­gan last year out of mem­ory of Henry Grady “Bodie” Pilcher IV, a Main Street board mem­ber who was di­ag­nosed with leukemia in Novem­ber 2013 and passed away on April 12, 2014 at the age of 51. He served for three years.

Pilcher worked at Amer­i­can De­hy­drated Foods and “was a great city vol­un­teer,” ac­cord­ing to Doug White, So­cial Cir­cle city man­ager.

“She wants to see the com­mu­nity thrive and do well,” White said of Burgess. “She started do­ing self­less work and kept do­ing it. It was just time to thank her for all her ef­forts over these years.”

Burgess found out she would be hon­ored with this award at last week’s Main Street board meet­ing.

“I thought it was re­ally a very nice recog­ni­tion,” Burgess said.

De­sign and Preser­va­tion com­mit­tee

Burgess is a mem­ber of the De­sign and Preser­va­tion com­mit­tee, where she wrote the strate­gic plan for the city’s Gate­way Cor­ri­dor Project to en­hance and beau­tify yards and cor­ri­dors along streets in the city.

“She is just a real won­der­ful per­son to work with,” said Tom Brown, chair of the De­sign and Preser­va­tion com­mit­tee. “On any project she gets in­volved in, she is just re­ally com­mit­ted and ded­i­cated to it and of­ten takes the lead on it.”

Brown, who won the pioneer Vol­un­teer of the Year award last year, and Burgess are two of three com­mit­tee mem­bers – of the 12 to­tal – who took on the Gate­way Cor­ri­dor Project.

The strate­gic plan Burgess wrote is the same plan the com­mit­tee uses to­day, which rec­om­mended a test area on S. Chero­kee Road to be used be­fore ap­ply­ing the project to the whole city.

“We just know when she gets in­volved in some­thing, it’s gonna get done,” Brown said. “For her to be nom­i­nated and selected for (the award) is not a sur­prise. She de­serves it, and she earned it.”

Clean City So­cial Cir­cle

“When Jim (Burgess) was mayor, people com­plained there was a lot of lit­ter,” Burgess said. “Lit­ter is not unique to So­cial Cir­cle. I called and put to­gether a group of people, and many of those people are still on our com­mit­tee.”

Burgess is the chair of Clean City So­cial Cir­cle, a pro­gram that works to elim­i­nate trash and lit­ter in the city and that hosts the city’s semi­an­nual trash pick-up.

Miller said about 125 people show up ev­ery year. Burgess thought of cre­at­ing an “adopt-a-street” in­cen­tive in­stead of a mile or longer span of road so churches, neigh­bor­hood as­so­ci­a­tions and res­i­dents would feel help­ing to be more prac­ti­cal.

“She has in­creased the res­i­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion ev­ery year. She has grown that pro­gram from the vol­un­teer-res­i­dent side and from the busi­ness side,” Brown said.

Brown said she de­vel­oped the pro­gram’s mas­cot, Crit­ter, work­ing with schools to get ideas, just an­other ex­am­ple of com­mu­nity ef­fort and growth.

“She’s great on re­cruit­ing vol­un­teers be­cause people like to work with her,” Brown said. “She’s very gen­er­ous and en­joys work­ing on things that ben­e­fit other people. Not ev­ery­body can do that.”

City news­let­ter

Burgess also be­gan and ed­its the city-wide news­let­ter, which is sent out to res­i­dents in their util­ity bills.

“Since we have no lo­cal news­pa­per, this gives people an idea about cur­rent events,” Burgess said.

When she be­gan the news­let­ter, Burgess was writ­ing col­umns for The News, do­ing so for three years.

On be­ing rec­og­nized for her vol­un­teer­ing ef­forts to the city, Burgess gave a log­i­cal and healthy rea­son why these ac­tiv­i­ties pulled her in.

“We de­velop cer­tain skills in our reg­u­lar jobs,” Burgess said, “and then we re­tire, and we seek ways to main­tain our skills and to broaden our knowl­edge of our com­mu­nity and to get in­volved.

“I think it’s im­por­tant for people who are re­tired to move, to do things.”

Brown said her pro­fes­sional ca­reer as a le­gal me­di­a­tor is ben­e­fi­cial to her vol­un­teerism be­cause is­sues need to be re­solved and me­di­a­tion works when deal­ing with groups of people who may have dif­fer­ent vi­sions.

“Her per­son­al­ity is just the right kind for this type of award,” Brown said. “She’s a plea­sure to work with. She’s hum­ble. She doesn’t try to con­trol ev­ery­thing; she just mo­ti­vates ev­ery­one to get things done. She leads by ex­am­ple and mo­ti­vates people to do their best. She is, by na­ture, a leader by ex­am­ple.”

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Made­line Burgess is the 2014 Henry Pilcher Vol­un­teer of the Year in So­cial Cir­cle.

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