Davis volunteers time, efforts to help community members preserve treasured memories
BY WHITNEY PRATHER DUVALL
Sweet Owen Contributor
Though her story begins in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dawn Davis considers herself a “hometown girl.” And even if living in Owen County since first grade, for some strange reason, doesn’t qualify it, her investments within the community certainly do.
Having grown up in a family of servant-minded people, Dawn is inspired by a sense of responsibility to give back and help others.
“My husband and I both came from families that taught us the importance of community service at a very young age, and we have stressed the importance of this to our own daughter,” Dawn said.
In 1986, Dawn married “the boy next door,” Greg. Having taken an interest in firefighting at a young age, Greg has served New Liberty in the fire service for 48 years, spending 20 of them as chief of his department.
Dawn and Greg reside on his family’s cattle farm and have one daughter, Kelsey, who is now a third-year student at the University of Kentucky. Kelsey is hoping to use her double major in interior design and community leadership to help revitalize small towns. Without a doubt, the Davis legacy of service is strong.
Currently, Dawn serves as president of the Memory Makers Homemakers Club, a group whose goal is to get folks to preserve their photographs through creative projects.
“We strive to encourage people to take photos out of old shoeboxes or download [them] off their phone and preserve those memories permanently in some way, such as scrapbooking, digital photobooks, etc., so that your history is there for generations that follow.
“Our club has been sponsoring an event called ‘Scrappin’ for the Community’ since 2011. What started as a brainstorming session to figure out a way to bring more money into the community to help raise funds for the Relay for Life turned into an over-capacity, sold-out, twice-a-year event at the extension office.
“Since the Relay for Life is no longer an event here, we have shifted to assisting multiple non-profits in our community by rotating the donation to various groups,” Dawn said.
With the Owen County Extension Service, Dawn serves on the Owen County Homemaker Board, the 4-H Council, and the Owen County Extension Service Board of Directors. Through her work with county extension alone, Dawn stays busy year-round, working with adults and children alike.
During the last school year, she participated with a small group of Homemakers that went each week to the high school to host a 4-H club to teach life skills, which included everything from sewing on a button to embroidery to making jam and basic canning skills.
More of Dawn’s favorite activities are just around the corner with the Christmas season.
“We have the annual Santa’s Castle event coming up, which is a great event for young children to come and shop for holiday gifts for their family and friends,” she said. “We help them wrap those items and get them ready to go under the tree.
“The Christmas Parade is something our family loves to participate in as well. I have a lot of great memories of the parade, like riding on the cancer survivors float with my mom, riding on the 4-H float with my daughter, or riding in a fire truck with my husband. It’s always been something our family has done together.”
As the current president of the Educational Excellence Foundation of Owen County (EEFOC), Dawn has helped facilitate the funding of countless projects for teachers, which would have otherwise been impossible due to regulations on money provided by the government for education. These projects include but are not limited to a rooftop garden at the middle school, a monarch butterfly garden at the high school, books for social and emotional learning, and power tools for teaching math in alternative settings.
“(EEFOC) also acts as a ‘pass-through’ for receiving funding from organizations such as United Charities, the Dolly Parton Foundation, Kohl’s Cares for Communities, and the RC Durr Foundation, etc.,” Dawn said, adding that the foundation also hosts a golf scramble at Fairway Golf Course each year to help raise funds for teacher classroom grants.
The list goes on.
Dawn is active in her church, participating in Operation Christmas Child, children’s church, vacation Bible school, as well as the Friends of Hospice group. She spent many years active with the Owen County Chamber of Commerce. During her 10-plus years working with the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life, Dawn served in nearly every conceivable role the local Relay committee had to offer while raising money for support services for cancer patients.
When one lives in a small, rural community, it doesn’t take long to realize that volunteerism and service is a critical catalyst to cultivate and bring to fruition vital projects. There is certainly strength in numbers—if for no other reason than to keep a few “movers and shakers” from bearing the burden and getting burnt out. With a servant’s heart comes the need to weather successes and failures and have a sense of self-preservation.
“My biggest takeaway from years of volunteering is to keep an open heart,” Dawn said. “Things may not always happen just as you had planned, but maybe they did not because that was not what was best in the long run. You have to stay willing and able to change and learn from each new experience—even if it [is] to learn you never want to do that again. There comes a time when you have to analyze where you spend your time; if it is making a difference, keep going, but if not, you might need to step away.”
Though she’s probably subscribed to more projects than she’s stepped away from, Dawn emphasizes the need to bring in new volunteers to bolster community efforts.
“Owen County is like many other small communities—it relies heavily on volunteers to provide services, entertainment, and much-needed assistance to so many. We have to continue to seek new ideas, new interests, and new ways of attracting an upcoming volunteer group. It is so important to the sustainability of so many programs in our county.”