The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Banquet on Thursday, October 24. This years banquet was centered around the guest speaker Austin Coats. Coats is a 2003 graduate of Greenwood High School and author of the book "Spoons are for Stirring Coffee." Coats used pain medication to deal with a high school football injury. Pain medication grew into the experimentation of illegal and additive drugs. Although his book is about addiction, it is also an inspiring story about recovery and redemption.
Coats describes the first time he used drugs intravenously as, "…the day I sucked my soul up into that needle. It would be a decade before I got it back."
In his closing statements of his speech, Coats said, "The coolest part of writing this book was not for all the money or fame, it was about helping people dealing with this disease."
During the event, the Chamber surprised Stephanie Griffin with the Shinning Star Award in recognition for her hard work as a support staff of the Greenwood High School. The award was presented by Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Vicki Hall.
The big award, however, went to Phil Hicks. He was named the Citizen of the Year. The award was presented by Chamber Treasurer and friend, Ray Webb.
Hicks was born in Ozark, Arkansas and attended Greenwood schools from 1973 until graduation in 1977. He moved away for a while but when he returned, he began working with the Chamber and various other organizations in Greenwood.
Hicks has been and continues to be involved in as many things as he can within Greenwood. In his acceptance speech, Hicks said, "I don’t do it for this [as he holds up his award], I do it for this community."
As a member of the Chamber, Hicks was the Chamber President in 1988-1989 and 2007-2008. He was also a Chamber Board Member numerous times from 1990-2004. Hicks Chaired or Co-chaired Chamber Golf Tournaments since the beginning in 1998. He is still active in all Chamber functions.
Hicks was also the founder of the Kristin Lowery Foundation in 1990, an organization founded to help defray everyday living expenses for families with a critically injured or terminally ill children.
He has also served as Cub Scout Leader Pack 54, Assistant Scout Leader for Troop 126 which produced 9 Eagle Scouts. He was a volunteer Firefighter for the city of Greenwood 1986-1994 and a volunteer Firefighter and First Responder in Milltown/Washburn from 1995 - 2006.
As an avid supporter of Greenwood Schools he donates a scholarship every year to a GHS graduate and has since 1988, sponsors and operates the Spirit Canon at all high school games and has since 1989, has been, and still is, involved with the Greenwood Little League Football since 1994, served as a Volunteer Coach from 1996-2002 and served as Board President 1997-2005 and is still an active board member.
Hicks served as Volunteer T-Ball coach from 1993-1996. He is a current Board Member of the Bulldog Foundation Inc. and a current board member of the Greenwood Little League Cheer (advisory position).
There were numerous corporate sponsors that helped make the night a success. These sponsors purchased an entire table at the banquet: AOG, Arvest Bank, Bishop Family Dentistry, CentruyLink, Chuck Fawcett Realty, First National Bank, Osborn Agency, Shelter Insurance, BancorpSouth, Alpha Packaging, Walters, Gaston Allison & Parker, Mick Ross for Governor, UAFS, Hug Chevrolet, Farmers Bank, Basham Agency and Paul Post Candidate for Circuit Judge.