Twelve women who have made significant contributions to the Fuquay-Varina community were honored last week by the Fuquay-Varina Woman’s Club.
The women were cited for their courage, wisdom and especially for the pioneering spirit which led each of them to come up with new ideas and promote new programs and new approaches within the community, according to club president Polly Sheets.
The club’s first program honoring women who have been—and many of whom still are—leaders and innovators was held in 2001. Others followed in 2004, 2008 and now in 2012. Names of those honored in each of those years are included on a Roll of Honor displayed in the clubhouse.
This year’s honorees, all of whom received plaques, included:
Willa Akins Adcock, Ann Marie Amico, Nelsa Cox, Debbe Matthews Gardner, Rose Hewett John, Janet Kangas, Cindy McConnell, Tonya Baker Nelson, Naomi McLaurin Riley, Sheri Schwietering, Cindy Young Sheldon and Susan Weis.
Willa Akins Adcock, who grew up in Fuquay-Varina and has spent most of her life here, has devoted many hours in recent years to researching and writing about the community’s history. She served on the Centennial Commission, worked on development of the town’s museum and is currently a docent there. She has held many positions in the Fuquay-Varina Baptist Church and worked with area schools in a variety of capacities.
Ann Marie Amico, who moved to Fuquay-Varina in 1987, is an artist. She has her own design business here and she been active in many community organizations. She worked on the town’s Centennial Gala in 2009. She has served as president and interim director of the Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce and is a founding director of the Fuquay-Varina Economic Development Commission.
Nelsa Cox is owner of The Garden Hut on Old Honeycutt Road. She earned a Horticultural Science from N. C. State and has been gardening in Wake County for 20 years. She has been active in the community serving on the Chamber Board of Directors. While on the Chamber Board she inaugurated the Run the Quay 5K. She continues to serve as chairman of the annual run. She has won numerous awards in horticultural circles.
Debbe Matthews Gardner founded and still owns Enchanting Moments, a full bridal and formal wear store located in Fuquay-Varina. Her business is widely known and respected in the industry and has won many awards. Ms. Gardner says she was born into the clothing business. Her mother, Edna Matthews, ran Edna’s, a dress shop, for many years on Fuquay Avenue.
Rose Hewett John, a native of Brunswick County, studied Business Administration at Cape Fear Technical College in Wilmington. When her husband moved the family to Fuquay-Varina in 1987, Ms John found a temporary position as an office clerk in the town’s finance department. She soon won a permanent job in the department and began her rise through a series of promotions to become town clerk/executive assistant. In 2006 she was awarded the designation “Certified Municipal Clerk” by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks after completing course work through the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill.
Janet Kangas, managing editor of five community newspapers including the Fuquay-Varina Independent, moved here with husband, Darren, seven years ago, joining her sister and her parents who were living in the area. Ms. Kangas, who has been a writer and editor for 30-plus years, says of her present job, “One of the most rewarding parts of my job as editor of the Fuquay-Varina Independent is that I can help so many individuals and community groups get the word out about their important events and successes. I focus on spreading the positive news that spotlights our town.” Since coming to Fuquay-Varina, she has been a supporter of the library and is now secretary of the Steering Committee of the Professional Women’s Leadership Association through the Chamber of Commerce.
Cindy McConnell, who has been with the Wake County Library system for 32 years,
has spent 26 of those years serving the Fuquay-Varina community. In 1997 she worked with county officials to renovate and remodel the existing library building. She is now looking forward to assisting with design and implementation of a new and expanded library for the community.
Tonya Baker Nelson, a Fuquay-Varina native who studied biology at Campbell University, worked in the energy services and facilities management industry, then in sales and marketing before settling into “the fast-paced environment of full-time motherhood.” She is founder and executive director of A Hand of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center, a nonprofit options education organization that provides free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and STD testing to the general public.
Naomi Riley is a Fuquay-Varina native who graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in elementary education and a minor in psychology. She credits her sorority with having taught her the value of service and the role women play as future leaders. She has taught, owned her own large preschool and been a stay-at-home mom. Today she leads Fuquay-Varina’s Main Street program and is director of the town’s Downtown Revitalization program.
Susan Schwietering came to Fuquay-Varina 29 years ago to complete a one-year government contract. She and her husband have settled here and have a successful business, Far Packaging Co. Ms. Schwietering has been a regular volunteer with the schools, her church and with Meals on Wheels, an organization she has served for 24 years. She was a member of the Junior Woman’s Club for 16 years and won numerous awards from that organization. She has been a Chamber member for 20 years, has worked with the FVAA, was a team manager for five years. She is currently on the board of directors for Military Missions in Action.
Cindy Young Sheldon is currently in her second term on the town’s Board of Commissioners. Before seeking the board seat she served on the town’s Planning and Zoning board and as chairman for two years. She was director of the Fuquay-Varina Economic Development Commission 2008-2011. She was recently elected president of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh/Wake County, the first woman to hold that office in the organization’s 50-year history. She is employed by D.R. Horton, America’s Builder and is currently division mortgage manager of the Central Carolina division.
Susan Weis has been promoting Fuquay-Varina for almost 10 years, first as executive director of the Fuquay-Varina Revitalization Association, leading the successful effort to gain the coveted North Carolina Main Street Community designation. The town also carried out two streetscape projects during her tenure with the association. Ms. Weis is now the town’s first public information officer, informing citizens and visitors of town activities.