Better Carolina Award Winners

February 2019-Brian Keith

February’s WMDT/Mountaire Better Delmarva Award was presented to Brian Keith, owner of Mio Fratello’s Restaurant in Selbyville for his active service in the Delmarva community.

Brian has helped to raise more than $75,000 this year for the Toys for Tots campaign, provided clothing for homeless veterans, is active in the Knights of Columbus, supports Indian River school activities, and leads his entire restaurant staff in packing and distributing thousands of boxes during the Mountaire Thanksgiving for Thousands food programs.


Dr. Scott Cameron is a neonatal ICU doctor at Cape Fear Valley Hospital, Fayetteville, NC. He volunteered his medical services in Kenya for the summers of 2009 and 2010 and noticed that one of the differences between African medicine and American medicine was the combination of prayers with “the practice of medicine”. Upon his return from Kenya, he enrolled at Duke Divinity School while still working fulltime in the NIC-U at Cape Fear Valley Hospital. Dr. Cameron has received a Master of Divinity from Duke.

Dr. Cameron began the building of a unique faith-based “Friendship House” in Fayetteville, NC. This consists of three homes and a pavilion in the Haymount district behind Highland Presbyterian Church (Highland Presbyterian Church is one of the partners on this project) and two community gardens within a short walking distance. Friendship House will be the third of its kind in the United States and the fifth Friendship House in the world. Dr. Cameron has also been selected to serve as one of the advisory directors for the Fayetteville Friendship House. Residents will be a mix of young adults who have intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) living along with eighteen students in nearby college medical (Nursing, PA and MD) programs. The medical students will act as “resident friends”, sharing daily life as roommates rather than authority figures. The objective is for the young adults with challenges to develop the skills necessary for independent living. Dr. Cameron is moving his family to an adjacent lot, thus, enabling him to provide ministerial support and involve his family in this endeavor to improve the lives of others.

April 2017 – Brenda Ginn Gilbert

According to the many people who have worked with Brenda Gilbert, she is one of the most gracious and approachable people they have met. Brenda Gilbert is married to Gray Thomas Gilbert – they have four children and nine grandchildren. Brenda has held the positions of: Scotland County Schools Substitute teacher (1973-1976) -Scotland County Schools Director of School-Community Relations for (1977-2004) -Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Interim President (2008-2009) -Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Workforce – Development Coordinator (2009-2011), and Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Interim President (2012)

In addition to the above activities, Brenda Gilbert has made Scotland County and North Carolina a better place to live, work and play by her contributions to the Scotland County Arts, education and economic development; Past Volunteer Service: -Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast Co-Founder and Board Chair -North Carolina Association for Community Education – Past President -Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce – Past Board Chair -Scotland County Red Cross – Past Board Chair -Scotland County Partnership for Children and Families – Past Board Chair -Scotland County Arts Council – Past Board Chair -Scotland County Habitat for Humanity – Past Board Chair -Scotland County Reentry Council – Past Board Chair -Scotland County United Way – Past Board member Current Volunteer Service: -NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Extension State Advisory Council – -Immediate Past Chair -Scotia Village Board of Trustees -Arts Council of Scotland County Board of Directors – Secretary -North Carolina Ag Foundation Board Member -Presbyterian Homes Foundation Board Member -St. Mary Catholic Church – Choir Director and Lector, and, Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee.

March 2017 – Mariechen Smith

Mariechen Smith is a retired Realtor although it might be hard to tell she is actually retired. Residing at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hills, Mariechen is in her 90’s and is still going strong. After she turned her attention away from the activities of an active realtor, she has served on boards and committees for many years, doing the most she could for her community and Chatham County. She continues to go non-stop at all times. Oftentimes, if you want to meet with her or set a lunch date, it becomes quite a task because of her busy schedule. Which is almost always full of meetings and community work commitments.

Mariechen is a unique, one of a kind individual. She is an amazing person. She truly cares about the community and our local economy. She is always helping someone or some organization by working with one project or another. She truly makes North Carolina a better place to live.

ShaDonna “Mo” McPhaul

“Mo’s Heroes”, founded by ShaDonna “Mo” McPhaul, is truly committed to serving Veterans, Service Members and their families. Founded in 2013 by SahDonna “Mo” McPhaul, a retired Air Force Veteran, she has done a multitude of amazing things to improve the quality of life for our Veterans.  Mo’s Heroes has hosted Thanksgiving Meals for Veterans. They have sponsored five Veterans to attend the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Gala which recognizes outstanding educators, business people, religious leaders and students at a Jones County event honoring the birthday of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Mo has also conducted suit drives to help Veterans get ready for job interviews and career fairs as well as hosting business seminars and housing seminars.  Additionally, Mo’s Heroes has several niche programs in place to help our homeless Veterans and their families which include Career Coaching, Transportation Assistance, Food Assistance, Image Consulting and Housing Assistance.  Through these sustainability programs, Mo’s Heroes has helped many Veterans obtain their driver’s licenses, connect veterans with safer housing arrangements, and provided assistance for job interviews and networking opportunities.  “Mo’s Heroes”, through ShaDonna’s tireless efforts, has worked determinedly for our “Veterans in need” and has made North Carolina a better place to live.

January 2017-Charles Tapp

Charles Tapp of Raeford-Hoke County, is the Executive Director of Maintenance for the Hoke County School System where he has been an important and integral part of the school system’s efficient operation for many years. In addition to being on call 24 hours a day for his normal job, Mr. Tapp also serves as a volunteer on the Raeford-Hoke Museum Board of Directors, the Raeford-Hoke Chamber of Commerce, the North Carolina Fall Festival Board of Directors and the City of Raeford Volunteer Fire Department as Chief.  He constantly strives to make Raeford-Hoke County a better and safer place to live and work, keeps the history of the area alive, and as well, helps the businesses and industries to grow and be recognized.

December 2016 – Sergeant Peggy Smith

The Better Carolina Award was awarded to Sgt. Marguerite “Peggy” Smith. Sgt. Smith has served as the supervisor of the Youth Services Unit for over two years but her law enforcement career spans twenty-six plus years at the Fayetteville Police Department. The Youth Services Unit investigates physical abuse and sexual abuse cases, where children are the victims. Although Peggy Smith sees many children in their darkest moments, she devotes herself and her unit to be a victim rescue and refuge center. Sgt. Smith is truly a voice for those who don’t normally have an advocate. She has given her heart and soul to her job, dedicating her time and energy to make sure each child who is a victim is taken care of.

November 2016 – Oasis Youth Group

The Better Carolina Award for November was awarded to The Oasis Youth Group of Hope Mills. The group has been involved in their local community and in Africa.  They collect food and clothing for those in need; provide “comfort blankets” to help abused children; hosted a pancake and prayer morning for adults in the community, and went to South Africa on a missionary trip to spread the word of God.  Currently, they are assisting the Falcon Children’s Home, an orphanage located in Falcon, NC, by assisting in cleaning and donating blankets and pillows and are preparing to embark on another missionary trip to help the orphans of Kenya by assisting in the construction of an orphanage there.

October 2016 – Shawn Poe

Shawn Poe is the Executive Director of Chatham Trades, a community rehabilitation program in Siler City, NC. which provides employment and training to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  With Chatham Trades, Shawn came into a struggling facility that was on the brink of financial failure. She was able to transform the facility through her excellent management skills, and importantly, her communication skills in letting others know about the benefits Chatham Trades provides to the community.  Under her leadership, Chatham Trades has been awarded the SHARP (Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program) award from the NC Department of Labor and is currently, the only business in Chatham County to have this distinction. Shawn is also involved in her church and community in many other ways and is helping make North Carolina a better place to live!

September 2016 – Charlie Allen

Charlie is a shining example of young leaders in our community. He returned to Fayetteville after college and has made our community better. He has created jobs, donated goods and services and serves our community through his volunteerism. He is a franchisee of Two Men and a Truck and in March of 2015, under his leadership, they received the coveted Customer Service Award from their corporate office. Charlie won The Fayetteville Regional Chamber’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and is no stranger to hard work. While working full-time as Vice President at Green Biz Nursery and Landscaping, Inc. and running the local Two Men and A Truck franchise, he decided to go back to college in 2011 and obtain his MBA from Methodist college. His profile from the 2011 edition of The Fayetteville Observer’s 40 Under 40, states: Allen has donated time and money to many local organizations, including Fayetteville Urban Ministry, The Salvation Army, Partnership for Children, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Sunshine Kids Foundation and many others. “This is my community,”’ he said. “I take pride in it, and I want it to be the best it can be. It’s great to be involved.” We should all be proud that young leaders like Charlie call our community home.

August 2016 – Enlighten the World Ministries Community Assistance Program

Enlighten The World Ministries Community Assistance Program’s mission is to joyfully serve those in need of food, clothing, disaster recovery assistance, utility and shelter assistance, as well as prayer and spiritual uplifting. Pastor Thom’s calling to have the outreach ministry in Clinton, North Carolina, came in December 2008 and is led by Pastor Thom and his wife, Pam Miles.

In 2015, Enlighten the World Ministries Community distributed 92 tons of food to 12,196 people, helped 37 families who were victims of disasters, and gave utility and shelter assistance funds to 43 needy families. They currently average feeding and clothing 1,140 people per month.  In addition to being a food pantry and clothing closet, they also respond to local disasters such as home fires, floods and storms and provide necessary items such as food, clothing, linens, pots, dishes, air mattresses, heaters and fans to assist victims of disasters.

July 2016 – Galloway Ridge – Community Relations Department

Galloway Ridge promotes, hosts and presents the Chatham County Alzheimer’s NC Walk & 5K each year, raising awareness, advocacy, education and respite dollars for Chatham County and neighboring Counties in North Carolina. They facilitate the fundraising campaign via their Community Relations Department and chair the committee that hosts this event each year.  Development, marketing, publicity and other event-support allows Chatham County to raise dollars that return to the county making a difference in the lives of the aging population.  In 2015, they raised $34,000 to support this community effort and campaign.  Over the past years, they have raised over $130,000.  Galloway Ridge continues to help make sure they help combat Alzheimer’s with respite care in Chatham County allowing employees and families to go to work, get breaks from care and care for themselves

June 2016 – Lexi Hasapis

Lexi is the Director of the Women’s Business Center at the Center for Economic Empowerment & Development (CEED) and is the epitome of selflessness. Each and every day she supports her clients by attending a grand opening of a new business, helping them with their expansion plans or being a part of their loan closing.  She is an advocate for small businesses and possesses a personal knowledge of the battles small businesses face. She says it is “…a daily reminder that what we do at CEED is necessary and difficult yet extremely rewarding.” When Lexi isn’t at CEED, she can be found at City Council meetings, volunteering for the Greek church or programs like Gotcha Back-Backpack program. She was named one of the five Boots to Business Instructors of the year by the U.S. Small Business Administration and was awarded in Washington, DC in 2015. Lexi was also recognized as one of The Fayetteville Observer’s 40 Under 40 for 2016.

May 2016 – Disabled American Veterans Lodge #46

Disabled American Veterans Lodge #46 has six Volunteer drivers that provide transportation for our local disabled veterans who must go to the Durham, North Carolina Veterans Administration Medical Center. The service is free to these veterans paid for by Lodge #46. All the drivers are volunteers who provide travel to veterans who have appointments from Monday – Friday. Their day starts at 5:30 am and ends around 2:00 pm. The average monthly mileage is over 3,500 miles requiring an investment of time of over 160 hours monthly. These Veterans of Lodge #46 are helping to fulfill a promise to our North Carolina Disabled Veterans and make North Carolina a Better Place to live!

April 2016 – Fayetteville Urban Ministry, Inc.

For over 40 years the mission of the Fayetteville Urban Ministry has been “to show God’s compassion for our neighbors in need, and thus build our community together.” They offer a few programs that help to achieve this goal. The Adult Literacy Project helps adults learn to read and achieve professional success in a variety of ways. Find-A-Friend pairs at-risk youth with a mentor to foster academic and personal development. The Urban Ministries Nehemiah Project repairs homes to provide low-income homeowners with the security they need.  With these programs, the Urban Ministry provides faith, hope, love and security to the lives of over 10,000 individuals every year.

March 2016 – USO

The USO of North Carolina has strengthened America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to our nation. Each month, nearly 200 volunteers at Fort Bragg and at the Fayetteville Regional Airport offer over 10,000 Fort Bragg service members and families refreshments, snacks, Technology Center, free phone calls, travel packs, children’s programs, meals, deployment and homecoming support, a center specifically for wounded warriors, and support for Families of the Fallen.

February 2016 – Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina

The Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina has been helping children since 1954. Since then, nearly 5,000 children have benefitted from the services of this agency.  Its mission is to provide a comprehensive array of services for children and youth who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other family dysfunction.  Melissa Hopkins and Gary Faircloth work with the children to provide educational and recreation as well as emotional and spiritual development, providing them with safety and love in an environment which gives them hope and encouragement. All of this works together to provide a brighter future for the children and the community.


The Quaker House was established in 1969 with a mission to help soldiers. Over the years, that mission has grown to assist with multiple issues and is paid for by private donations. With those donations they are able to provide free counseling for domestic violence, sexual assault and moral injury to service members and veterans who are struggling with their discharges, or who are not receiving the necessary treatment needed once home.


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