William Gaston Awards 2005

Each year, the Gaston County Board of Commissioners presents the William Gaston Award to citizens who have made significant contributions to Gaston County through their work on county boards, committees, and task forces.

The William Gaston Award acknowledges the involvement, commitment, and dedication of these citizens who volunteer their time and talents in community service.

The recipients of The William Gaston Award 2005 are:

Harley Gaston 2005Judge Harley B. Gaston Jr.

For people who know Judge Gaston, it will come as no surprise to learn that he was an Eagle Scout... just the first in a long line of awards and recognitions that would distinguish him as a man of fine character throughout the years - something confirmed this past year when Governor Michael Easley conferred upon him the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Today he is probably best known as District Court Judge, having held the position of Chief District Court Judge until 2001. However, over the years he has created a legacy of community service which encompasses everything from active membership in his church to organizing the Gaston County Volunteer Fireman's Association.

He is also living proof that you can be a County Commissioner and still lead a normal life afterward. Judge Gaston served two terms as County Commissioner from 1976 to 1984. He held the title of Vice-Chair for three years, and Chairman for two.

Judge Gaston currently serves on the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council in his 6th year and the Criminal Justice Partnership Act Advisory Board in his 11th year. As a member of the JCPC, he was one of the driving forces behind the anti-gang initiative in Gaston County this past year. He still readily volunteers to serve on committees and shows no signs of slowing down.

His friends and colleagues describe him as friendly, compassionate, reliable, and knowledgeable. And it seems anyone who has ever met him says he is just a really nice guy.

Cathy Kensig 2005Mrs. Cathy Kenzig

Mrs. Kenzig has a passion for youth. That's evident from the list of committees she currently serves on: The Commission on the Family, Community Child Protection Team, Child Fatality Prevention Team, Gaston Family Health Services, and the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. She also chairs a project group for the Gaston Community Health Care Commission that works with adolescent issues, and she is a member of the Gaston Together Board. And did we mention that her full-time job is Executive Director of The Alliance for Children and Youth? And it doesn't stop there. Mrs. Kenzig is an active member of her church and other community organizations. Most people would get tired just thinking about being that involved, and yet Mrs. Kenzig's enthusiasm is described as contagious. Her energy and commitment seem boundless.

The people who serve with Mrs. Kenzig on these committees come to depend on her for her knowledge of youth-oriented issues and services and her ability to clearly express ideas and concepts, often adding clarity to a discussion where others are struggling. She is also known as a person who can get things done, by knowing how to access resources and who to call.

Mrs. Kenzig is described as energetic, self-motivated, thoughtful, and always pleasant, even when dealing with controversy. In fact, her colleagues say her facilitation skills give her the ability to bring people of opposing viewpoints together.

Mrs. Kenzig is truly an asset to any board or committee she serves. It is not an overstatement to say that the work Mrs. Kenzig does is literally changing the lives of youth in Gaston County every day for the better.

Mamie Stokes 2005Mrs. Mamie Stokes

When you mention Ms. Mamie Stokes, the first word that comes to everyone's mind is supportive. She is committed to her work and the betterment of her community and has a knack for always being able to lift up the best in every situation, even in the face of criticism. She goes about her work in a quiet, unassuming way, but she makes a big impression.

Ms. Stokes is currently serving her 4th term on the Social Services Board, filling 2 terms from 1991 to 1997 and returning to the Board in 2003. She is currently Vice-Chair, a position she has held 4 times. She also served as Chair in 1997. Additionally, Ms. Stokes is a member of The Council on Aging, The Home and Community Care Block Grant Advisory Committee, and formerly the Work First Block Grant Plan Committee.

Her passion for social services stems from genuine and deep care for others and she is committed to making Gaston County a better place for residents who need services. Having served a total of 11 years so far on the Social Service Board, she has a vast knowledge of the agency, and actively works to help people access the services they need.

She is described as compassionate, considerate, kind, empathetic, down-to-earth, approachable, and a great ambassador for social services.

It is truly volunteers like Ms. Stokes who make Gaston County a better place for all citizens.