By Carra Higgins
Hundreds will gather Monday evening to celebrate Nancy Kissinger, the 26th Spirit of Beckley Community Service Award recipient.
It all begins at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center with a social hour at 6 p.m. and followed at 7 p.m. by the dinner and ceremony honoring Kissinger and her dedication to bettering the local community.
Jay Rist, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Southern West Virginia, said Kissinger “energetically makes sure projects are completed.”
Rist is looking forward to a “great night” to recognize not only Kissinger’s service, but also her life with the prestigious Spirit of Beckley award. He said in addition to pinning Kissinger, there will also be a slide show of photos from throughout her life.
Kissinger is president of Chase Bank in Beckley and has been involved in many service organizations both professionally and personally. Some of the organizations and groups she has been affiliated with are the Chamber of Commerce, Beckley Area Foundation, United Way, Region One Workforce, West Virginia State Chamber, Governor’s Workforce Council, National Board of the YMCA, Raleigh General Hospital, Pinecrest and the Jobs Foundation.
Susan Landis, executive director of the Beckley Area Foundation, knows Kissinger both personally and professionally. The two women have served on several boards together and are both members of the same clubs. Landis says that Kissinger just isn’t a member of organizations and boards, she is typically in leadership roles and takes action to ensure projects come to fruition.
“She looks for ways to make the city a better place to work, play and retire,” Landis said of Kissinger. “I hope others will use her as a role model.”
Landis also said Kissinger and her husband Richard are a “great team.”
Mike Darby, one of three co-chairs for Spirit of Beckley, has also worked with Kissinger professionally and on various boards. Darby said Kissinger has been dedicated to building community and business relationships through her work at Chase Bank and Kissinger is more than deserving of this year’s award.
“To me, the Spirit of Beckley award represents someone who has a servant’s heart ... Nancy demonstrates that,” Darby said.
Darby says that the Spirit of Beckley award is what it is today because of Kissinger’s past efforts. He explained that she was “instrumental” in making sure the award recognizes others.
“It’s the right person at the right time,” Darby said of Kissinger.
Co-chair Bill Baker said Kissinger has been involved in many community needs and any project that needs financial support, she is the first one to step forward and volunteer.
“She’s one of my favorite individuals when it comes to giving and sacrificing for the community,” Baker commented.
Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh is the third co-chair.
Other than recognizing Kissinger’s work for the Beckley area, the Spirit of Beckley award also raises money for the YMCA of Southern West Virginia’s Open Doors Membership and youth-related programs. The annual donations are made in honor of the year’s Spirit of Beckley recipient, who lends his or her name to the fundraising campaign.
Rist says the YMCA is “very close” to its $100,000 fundraising goal. Donations to the campaign will continue to be accepted throughout December. To make a contribution or to learn more about giving opportunities, contact Jenni Canterbury at 304-252-0715.
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