When Lisa Turner was announced as 2020 Statesboro Kiwanian of the Year, she simultaneously smiled a lot and cried a little as she hugged first her daughter, then her husband and then Kiwanis Club of Statesboro President Ashlee Hooks Corbin and others.
Arriving at the front of the little Kiwanis Anniversary Party in the Pancake House pavilion on the fairgrounds Saturday evening to accept the award, Turner claimed the whole club as family. The event was the club’s annual Anniversary Party, where Kiwanian of the Year, for the previous year, is the most celebrated of several awards. The 61st anniversary of the club’s founding arrived in February, but the party was scheduled for warmer weather in the open pavilion.
“I feel so blessed to work with the greatest group of Kiwanians that I’ve ever known or had the privilege to know, to serve this great community and to serve by you all, side-by-side as my family,” Turner said. “I love you all so much, and that being said, let’s go forth and put on the greatest rodeo and fair that this community has ever seen! Thank you all, so much.”
As Corbin noted in her remarks, 2020 was a challenging year for the local Kiwanis. After first postponing what would have been the 10th annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo from April to late summer, club leaders cancelled it for the remainder of the year. At the same time, with COVID-19 cases resurging, they cancelled the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair that had been slated for October 2020.
“I don’t know about all of you, but the cancellation sort of hit me hard,” Corbin said. “Even though I was part of the decision-making process, I did shed tears over our cancelling both.”
Rodeo, fair returning
But now, the rodeo is set to return April 23 and 24, appearing this year at the Bulloch County Agricultural Complex instead of at the Kiwanis Fairgrounds. Turner, now in her fifth year on the Rodeo Committee, is active in the planning and preparations.
The Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair is also slated to return this year – at the fairgrounds of course – Oct. 18-23, and Turner is a co-chair of the Fair Committee, a role she continues in from last year. She is slated to chair the fair in 2022.
One of her hardest-working roles for the past several years has been preparing for the livestock show, an effort that begins long before she helps set up the livestock barn for the event in October. The Kiwanis provides animals such as hogs, goats and sheep for children and teenagers to take care of and show, and at this time of year, the organizers have begun reaching out to FFA chapters and 4-H Clubs in a seven-county area.
While completing her third year on the Kiwanis Club’s board of directors, Turner also chairs its Agriculture and Conservation Committee and serves on the Greater Years and Membership committees.
Additionally, in the six years since she joined, Turner has brought her husband, Bobby Turner, and her daughter, Kayla Loy, in as volunteers and then members, so they are now a total Kiwanis Club family.
Building up to announce the 2020 Kiwanian of the Year, the award’s 2019 recipient, Lynn Bennett, alluded to many of these things about Turner, by way of giving clues.
The new recipient “was not born here but has deep-seated family roots in Bulloch County,” being “the child and grandchild of a long line of farmers,” he said. In fact, Turner was a young child when her parents, Sue Barnes Douglas and the late Aubrey Douglas, moved back to Bulloch County, and she and her family today reside on land that was farmed by her maternal grandparents.
In her high school years, the honoree “participated in 4-H and FFA showing livestock, and even now, many years later, is a member of their school’s FFA Alumni program,” Bennett said. That school is Portal High School, where Turner graduated in 1991.
“Always hard-working, from the fields to working their way through college, this person … works hard to support their family, to support the Kiwanis Club and to better themselves through higher education,” Bennett said.
While continuing as accounting and legal clerk at the Statesboro Herald, where she has worked for 19 years, Turner returned to Ogeechee Technical College as a student in August. She expects to graduate next spring with an Associate of Applied Science in Agribusiness.
Referring to the recipient as having been “a single parent for many years,” Bennett said she always put her child’s welfare above her own, “often doing without, in order to help advance that child’s betterment in life, and … succeeded.”
He then called her the “proud mother of another Kiwanian” before asking Turner to stand up as Kiwanian of the Year for 2020.
Kayla Loy, now 22, is a 2017 graduate of Portal Middle High School. While in school, she too, like her mother before her, was active in FFA and 4-H, showing livestock. Loy also rode and showed horses competitively. She joined the Kiwanis one year ago and is following her mother’s example as a member of the Agriculture Committee and Rodeo Committee and chair of the Livestock Project.
Lisa married Bobby Turner five years ago this October. Retired from a 29-year Army career, he also started accompanying her in some volunteer work with the Kiwanis about five years ago and joined two years ago.
“Nothing really makes her happier than volunteering her time to help out others and, especially with the Kiwanis, we do things for the kids, and kids are what counts,” he said.
“Outstanding Kiwanian” awards were presented to the club’s Immediate Past President Chris Caplinger, Vice President Chris Wiggins Jr., Corbin and also Turner.
For significant donations to certain Kiwanis International funds, Jim Dutrow and Bede Mitchell were awarded George F. Hixson Fellowships, and Marilyn Hale and JD Dunn received Zeller Fellowship awards. Ruby K Awards for having sponsored five new members went to Caplinger, Corbin and Turner, while Trish Tootle received one for having sponsored 20 new members over the years.
Corbin noted that when the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro was chartered in 1960, it consisted of 28 men, and women were not allowed to join. Now the club has 112 members, and obviously, women are some of the leaders.
As guest speaker, Kiwanis Georgia District Governor-elect Byron Mullican, now with the Tattnall County club but for 11 previous years a member of the Brooklet Kiwanis, talked about how most, but not all, of the 151 Kiwanis Clubs in Georgia have survived the pandemic shutdown as active organizations.
He confirmed that the Statesboro club’s Drive-thru Pancake House fundraiser last October became a model for events by some other resilient clubs. Statesboro Kiwanis met via Zoom beginning in March 2020 but resumed in-person meetings to October.