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Giving back to the community her passion

Cathy Davis, executive director of Lincoln County’s United Way, has deep roots in her home county.
Maybe that’s why she gives so much back.
Although Davis grew up in the Startown Road community of Oak Grove, her father’s side of the family, the Goodsons, settled in an area of Boger City that was once named after them: Goodsonville. Davis has an old picture of her grandfather standing on the land that would eventually become home to Bar-B-Que King.
Davis’ paternal grandmother taught at Asbury before she died of cancer at the age of 52. Davis was only two at the time, but has heard stories about her dying grandmother being carried on a stretcher to see the dream home she and her husband were finally building.
Bill Goodson, Davis’ grandfather, was a big part of her life.
“He had a lot to do with our upbringing and our character,” said Davis.
Goodson played baseball and basketball for Davidson College and is a member of the Lincoln County Sports Hall of Fame. He even played pro and semi-pro baseball and semi-pro basketball.
Yet Davis knew nothing of her grandfather’s glory days until years later, when a scrapbook her grandmother had kept revealed his athletic past.
Apparently, Davis inherited Goodson’s talent for sports, playing softball in her youth. She remembers her grandfather’s passion for sports and love for his granddaughter causing him to act out of character.
“The only time I ever heard him swear was at a ball game when he didn’t think the ump was calling my pitches consistently,” Davis said.
But an athletic inclination is not the only thing Davis inherited from her grandfather.
“He believed if you’re going to do something, apply yourself to it,” said Davis. “I think we developed his work ethic as well.”
At West Lincoln High School, Davis was very active in sports and clubs. She graduated and then went to Gaston College to study business.
But settling on a career did not come easily.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Davis said.
After college, Davis went to work for Revco (now CVS) as one of the area’s first store managers. She stayed for 15 years.
Upon leaving the drug store, Davis went to work at Belk in Lincolnton, eventually moving up within the company and working at different stores. As a loss prevention manager for the company, Davis learned how to run the whole department store.
Davis’ promotion to loss prevention manager coincided with her remarrying and building a house; it also came at a time of change within the company.
“I got that job in the middle of a $13 million remodel,” said Davis. (the $13 million refers to the Belk department store in Valley Hills Mall).
It was a time of change for corporate America as a whole, with people losing jobs due to “restructuring.” A manager, who is no longer with Belk, told Davis she made too many decisions with her heart rather than her head.
For Davis, it was time for a change. As luck would have it, an ad in the Lincoln Times-News alerted her to the position open with United Way.
After a couple of intense interviews, Davis was offered the job. With the support of her husband, Anthony, and children Paula Micol, Katie Wilson and Cole Wilson, Davis accepted the job in May of 2005.
Since coming on board as executive director, Davis has done a lot to help the community she calls home. She says she works with 19 different agencies through United Way, some of which she works with outside of her job.
“If they ask me personally to get involved, I do,” Davis said.
With the blessing of the board of directors, Davis enacted the United Way teen board, in which kids from local high schools do community service projects.
The list of activities with which Davis is involved is staggering. Recently, she helped with the Coalition Against Child Abuse’s “Price is Right” for children. Davis also serves on the board of directors of the Partnership for Children and is a member of the Safe Kids Coalition.
Davis is a member of Business and Professional Women of Lincoln County (BPW), works as an assistant on the election board at the Oak Grove precinct and is secretary of the Sunrise Rotary Club.
In addition, she is on the JobLink management team for the Employment Security Commission (ESC). Davis is also a participating member of Community Health Partners, is on the local FEMA board and serves on the advisory committee for the Sunrise Family Resource Center.
Despite a jam packed schedule, Davis remains committed to making the world a better place.
“I think no matter where you are in life, you have the ability to make a difference in someone else’s life,” said Davis. “There is so much that needs to be done in Lincoln County.”
One of the issues Davis is most concerned about of late is homelessness. Her work with United Way has led her to see some very sad situations, such as an elderly couple who had been living in their truck.
“The homeless situation concerns me,” Davis said. “The county is growing and with that, our needs grow, too.”
Davis’ caring attitude would come as no surprise to those who know her. She says she has always been one to play the role of caretaker.
Davis says she gets frustrated when she can’t find a solution to something that troubles her, such as homelessness.
“Those are the days I go home feeling really small and I feel guilty for having a warm home and a bed,” said Davis.
According to Davis, working with United Way has helped her put her life in perspective. It has also allowed her the flexibility to care for her father after he suffered an accident involving a lawnmower. Davis’ father is currently living with her.
A member of Salem Lutheran Church, Davis is very active in her congregation, chairing the church counsel and co-chairing the worship and music committee.
Throughout her life, Davis has striven to be the kind of person she knows her grandparents would be proud of. Even though Davis never got to know her grandmother, she has drawn inspiration from both of her grandparents. She says she has always kept them in her heart and has often wondered if what she’s doing would make them proud.
With all she does, it seems saying her grandparents would be proud is an understatement.
“I think every human being possesses the ability to make a difference,” Davis said. “I don’t want to die having said I didn’t.”
by Allyson Levine

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