You know what they say about “no good deed” — although it’s not likely that outgoing High County United Way Executive Director Gary Childers would see it that way.
Nearly five years ago Childers stepped into the HCUW top leadership role for what he thought was a temporary assignment. As the board chairman, he knew that the organization needed a short-term fix while a search for a new director at the time was under way.
Funny how those interim jobs can take on more significant proportions.
But now, half a decade later, we are saying a final goodbye to the retiring Childers. He will be replaced by the organization’s associate director, Marti Phillips.
Running a nonprofit the size of the HCUW is no easy task, and one that calls for a chief budgeter, chief fundraiser and, chief organizer and administrator rolled into one package. Yet, Childers came to the job naturally: He had already retired from a similar career years earlier in education at Watauga High School.
For Childers the move was natural because he saw it as an extension of his lifelong service to his community — a way to continue helping others.
That true desire for service is not one that can be taught or trained. It is not one that can be properly recompensed. It is not a job for the half-hearty. You must be fully involved and fully invested. Half-in or half-out won’t cut it when you’re working for some of our community’s most needful populations.
Childers had that gift, and he shared it with us through two successful careers.
His energy and enthusiasm will be hard to replace, but we are encouraged that Phillips was able to mentor for several months during a transition phase under his leadership.
We are also encouraged that Phillips is cut from the same cloth as her tutor. She already possesses the one characteristic she will undeniably need for the job: a longing to serve. After all, not only has Phillips been preparing to move into the directorship of HCUW, she has, like Childers, gone above and beyond: she has spent the past decade in the nonprofit sector, including working for not only HCUW, but Hospitality House at the same time.
We wish both Phillips and Childers much success in their new positions.