Debi Phillips Recognized as WVLN-WSEI Citizen of the Year
(March 12, 2009)
Olney & the Greater Richland County Chamber of Commerce held its 50th annual banquet Thursday night at Olde Tyme Steakhaus.
TrustBank Marketing Officer Debi Phillips received the WVLN-WSEI Citizen of the Year Award.
Phillips, who works at TrustBank, said she had a feeling something was going on because when she arrived at the restaurant she noticed more bank employees had decided to come to the event than had signed up. Twenty-four TrustBank employees attended the banquet.
“It was a wonderful surprise,”she said of receiving the award.
WVLN-WSEI General Manager Mike Shipman said the radio station decided to combine the Man and Woman of the Year awards to “make one big prestigious award.” He said there were 10 individuals nominated this year, a record.
“This was a tough one this year,” he said. “And I wish I could give everyone, all the individuals, an award because they all deserve it.”
Shipman read from two nominating letters for Phillips.
The first letter detailed the many organizations in which Phillips has been involved over the years, including the Chamber Board of Directors, East Richland Foundation for Academic Excellence, Olney Central College Foundation Board of Directors, Richland Memorial Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, Richland County Recreation Committee Board of Directors, Richland County Community Concert Board of Directors, American Heart Association Committee, La Gala Steering Committee and American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
She has volunteered for the Olney Christmas Lights Display Bucket Brigade, Richland County Farm & Fair Association, RMH Auxiliary Gift Shop and has recruited volunteers to be readers for the East Richland High School Words of Wisdom program.
She is a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church and serves in various leadership and committee capacities there.
Shipman read a letter titled “A Moment in Time” from Phillips’ husband, Rick, who is a drilling-fluid engineer and works in Alaska, and could not attend the banquet. He is away from home for his job every two weeks and is then home for two weeks.
“Tonight in another moment in time that has become a familiar experience in this individual’s life and this event is in no way only more joyful, no different than her other moments in the time of her life,” the letter stated. “This individual that is being honored tonight has evolved. Her sweetness of personality of the early years has endured a lifetime and molded into part of her strength of character exhibited by her kindness of heart when dealing with people.
“Her shyness, laced with self-doubt of being a leader, was overcome through a nurtured process over the years through encouragement and exposure in small steps through the involvement in the PTA, the church and other work exposure in the public in various cities.”
Rick Phillips described his wife as “almost an iconic symbol,” Her work in her career has been established from self-reliance, independence and discipline.
“She has become a thought-sounding board for ideas and concerns,” he wrote, adding her organizational skills are “often sought after.”
Her parents and her family have witnessed her growth in self-confidence and “the open sharing of her skills and talents for this community for many years.”
He wrote that he was saddened to not be able to attend the banquet, “but then I know she is truly a people’s person and this is what she will relish in.”
Debi Phillips said her husband is highly supportive. “When he’s here, he is so understanding with all the meetings,” she said through tears.
She also praised her TrustBank co-workers, describing them as “so wonderful.”
She said she enjoys being involved in many events and organizations. “I love being out in the community,” she said.