She put down her fork and started crying, but it wasn't the food. Michelle Hawkins was named the Administrative Professional of the Year at the annual Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at Thomson First United Methodist Church last Wednesday.
Mrs. Hawkins said she became suspicious when emcee Angela Blair was reading the winner's biography and said the winner had been at her company for five years and her boss started 10 months ago.
"I didn't even have a clue... so when that came up, I was like 'huh?' So I quit eating to listen," Mrs. Hawkins said. "After they called my name, I went up there, and I started crying ... but it was good tears, not bad. Those are the good kind you like to have."
Mrs. Hawkins, who works at Thomson Plastics, Inc., was nominated by her boss, Human Resource Manager Larry Collins. In his nomination letter, Mr. Collins said "Michelle has proved an invaluable source of information to me. ... She has outstanding communication skills. ... If a problem arises, she does whatever is necessary to get answers, whether it means making countless phone calls or chasing people down. ... When those around her are on the verge of panic, Michelle keeps her composure and continues to forge ahead, all the while maintaining a sense of humor. ... She takes initiative ... is punctual ... quick thinking, persistent, a dedicated and valued employee."
Mrs. Hawkins said she was honored with her boss' letter because she didn't realize she did "all those things he said."
"And then when somebody writes that stuff down like that, then you feel really appreciated," she said.
Mrs. Hawkins received more tangible rewards for her hard work from the Chamber of Commerce. Her prizes included a one night stay in a White Columns Inn suite, a color TV from Badcock Home Furnishings, a bouquet of flowers from Peacock Hill, a plaque and $100 in Chamber Cash, which is good at any business that belongs to the local Chamber of Commerce.
At least 215 administrative professionals attended the banquet, and none of them left empty-handed. Each attendee received a certificate from White Columns Best Western. Other door prizes included plants, a purse and tote bag, gift certificates to area restaurants, gift baskets, savings bonds, an area rug, a matted and framed print, newspaper subscriptions, an umbrella, golf shirts and tickets to the Blind Willie Blues Festival.
"The fine administrative professionals of McDuffie County keep the county running smoothly, and we appreciate each one of you," said Epp Wilson, the owner of White Columns.
The ladies were also given something to think about when keynote speaker Maj. John Wheeler of the Columbia County Sherriff's office gave a presentation on women's self defense.
"If you look like you are unsure of yourself, then you are marking yourself to be targeted," Maj. Wheeler told the ladies.
As the Major spoke, Columbia County Investigators Jimmy Edmunds and Stephanie Carani demonstrated moves that ladies can use to free themselves from an attacker.
During the presentation, the ladies enjoyed a lunch prepared by Mike Carrington and local firemen. Local businessmen and community leaders served as the wait staff, dressed in white shirts and khaki shorts.
"It was fun," said AllState Agent Danny Hedgepath, one of the waiters. "I had a good time, and it was a good chance to meet people. (The administrative professionals) are our lifeblood."
After they served dessert, the waiters thrilled the ladies by modeling on stage for a "sexy legs contest." A "show-down" was called when Andy Knox, Jr. and John Pereda received the loudest applause, which resulted in Mr. Knox being crowned the "King of Sexy Legs."
"The luncheon is always a delightful experience," said Lucia Kimbrough, who works for Georgia Power. "It is always uplifting and fun. I look forward to it every year."