Palestine Magazine January 2019 - Page 37

They make this community, and the world, better. DIFFERENCE MAKERS W hether through small acts of kindness or monumental achievements, they leave the world better than they found it. “Difference-makers” are defined by their work. This quarterly edition of Palestine Magazine recognizes 40 differ- ence-makers who live or work in Anderson County. Each honoree was photographed and, briefly, profiled. Some of them – public officials or holders of high position, for ex- ample – need no introduction. Others are not well-known. We wanted to show that people do not need impressive positions, venerable titles, or big bank accounts to make a difference. A businesswoman who opens a plant that employs 50 people who earn a living wage is a difference maker. So is the retired bus driver who volunteers to teach reading skills to a prisoner. Someone who creates beauty, or provokes insight and under- standing, through creativity and art can also claim the laudable title, Difference Maker. As we did in the “40 Under 40” magazine feature a year ago, we tried to reflect the community’s diversity with our picks. Candidly, we also looked for people who weren’t honored in “40 under 40,” though recognition in that group didn’t disqualify people for this one. Several people made both lists. We also recognize, with some discomfort, that any list is subjective and incomplete. Without question, we have omitted many worthy candidates, either because they weren’t nominated, or were otherwise overlooked. For that, we apologize. We are, nevertheless, pleased and proud to honor these 40 for mak- ing a big difference in our community and lives. To kick things off, we also included one additional difference maker of the non-human kind. Although she gets about on four legs instead of two, she makes a huge impact for those needing comfort and joy. Congratulations! Thank you Matt, for your leadership as Director of EMS Services and commitment to quality excellence. Matt Davis EMS Director, PRMC Sophie Therapy dog comforts children Sophie, a therapy dog, and her owner and fellow volunteer, Sharon Davis, have served Palestine Pet Partner for six years. When Davis retired from the Palestine Independent School District, she knew she wanted to give back to the community by owning and sharing a therapy dog. Davis said she and Sophie completed various obedience- school trainings in becoming a therapy pet team. They are registered with Pet Partners, a nationwide group. Their services are personally rewarding and in high demand: Davis and Sophie comfort children in emotional distress. “I have always had a passion for working with children,” Davis said. “And while Sophie seems to love everyone, she also has a special affection for young people. You can see her light up and her tail start to wag when she encounters a child.” The team of Sophie and Davis also serve children through the Court Appoint Special Advocacy program, where Davis also volunteers, visiting classes at local schools. Sophie was the first – if not only – therapy dog to accompa- ny a sexual abuse victim testifying in the witness box. Today, Sophie is often referred to as “the Courthouse Dog.” “An animal is capable of making a difference, too,” Davis said. “This is not about me, but a wonderful, loving animal that brings joy and comfort to our community.” JANUARY 2019 37