These two local businessmen contribute much

Published 9:34 am Saturday, April 25, 2009

A pair of local businessmen did far, far more than their share this week to make things better for their friends and neighbors.

Jamie Johnson owns and operates the ACE Hardware store in Ahoskie.

Joe Murray owns and operates Joe Murray Real Estate.

Late last week, budget restrictions and the trickle down effect of the current economy left the Small Business Center at Roanoke Chowan Community College in the position of having to cancel its planned Administrative Professionals Day event at the last minute. Administrative Professionals Day – established in 1952 as National Secretaries Day – recognizes the people in every business who seldom receive much credit, but universally are the folks who make things work day in and day out.

When he found out the event was about to be cancelled, Jamie Johnson decided that simply was not going to happen and when his friend Joe Murray heard what Jamie was doing, he was immediately on board.

The two of them found a new venue for the event – Catherine’s Restaurant – and quickly called the speaker – author and motivational speaker L. Diane Wolfe – to reschedule her. Somewhere in there, Jerry Castelloe, the executive director of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce got involved and threw himself into making everything come together. Then Jamie called the newspaper and enlisted our help to be sure everybody knew that the event was still going to happen, but that the location had changed.

I was impressed that, despite the fact that Jamie and Joe were putting so much of themselves (and, incidentally, their own money) into something that held little benefit for them, but that they simply felt was important, at no point did they seek any sort of credit for what they were doing. In fact, they both sought to avoid it.

I was similarly impressed when, at the event on Wednesday, I saw Jamie carrying trays of plates and helping serve the 100-or-more people who attended. Later, he was doing the same thing with tea, making sure everyone’s glass stayed full.

The event was a tremendous success.

But that’s only half of the story.

The next night, at ACE, Joe and Jamie threw what, honestly, was a major social event.

The Thursday night party was a chamber mixer, so, of course, Jerry was part and parcel of it, too.

But it was the grandest chamber mixer I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen more than a few over the past 40 years or so.

There was music and dancing and food and drink and…

I did not see a single person I thought was there because they were supposed to be. Everybody was there because they wanted to be and everybody was laughing and smiling and having a good time. A lot of the people there were from Murfreesboro and other area towns.

I wouldn’t even attempt to estimate the number of people there. ACE is not a small facility, and it was full.

Yes, the week was a busy one for Jamie Johnson and Joe Murray. And it was busy for them because they were working hard to do things for lots and lots of other people, including you and me.

If there’s not a picture of the two of them in your dictionary beside “community minded,” there should be.

David Sullens is president of Roanoke-Chowan Publications LLC and publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald and the Gates County Index.