Winners from the 10th annual Westie Awards receive their golden cows at awards reception at Gala Desserts

by Lorne Chambers | Editor

In last month’s issue of West Of Free Press, 10 individuals were named as the 2019 Westie Award class. It marked the 10th year the annual awards were given out to members of the community who help make West Ashley a better place.

On Thursday, March 21 they were honored at a Westie Awards reception at Gala Desserts, located in the Avondale Point Business District. Winners and their families, colleagues, and friends dropped in to chat with their fellow winners and pick up their illustrious golden cow trophy. OK, so the trophies aren’t that illustrious. Fashioned after West Ashley’s favorite landmark, the Coburg Cow, they’re really just cheap molded plastic dipped in gold paint. But they symbolize something much bigger. And the winners themselves are solid gold.

This year, as nominations started rolling in, a noticeable trend began to emerge. More so than in years past, there seemed to be a real emphasis on youth and an eye towards the future. This years winners included two recent West Ashley High School grads, Jerome Smalls and Caleb Alexander, both who are finding success along their respective paths. Smalls, a student at Georgetown University, has written a book about his personal experiences in order to help and inspire young people. Alexander is a touring illusionist who is entertaining all over the world.

This year also saw the youngest-ever Westie Award winner with 8-year-old Sloan Pittard, a youngster who embodies the meaning of community spirit by selling cupcakes and other treat to raise money for MUSCs Children’s Health.

Two politicians took home a golden cow this year — Harry Griffin, the youngest member of Charleston City Council and now a mayoral candidate as well as first-time Congressman from West Ashley Joe Cunningham.

Additionally, there were two employees from Roper St. Francis who both deal with local youth in very different ways. Lacey McBeth helps mentor high school students and prepare them for a career in the medical field while Liz Pucino manages the hospital’s Physician Partners Ob/Gyn and Neonatology unit, where all the babies are born in West Ashley.

Other winners included local school board member Michael Miller, who fought for the construction of a new Stono Park Elementary School, Jason Wheless, who runs the culinary program at West Ashley High School, and former City Council member Kathleen Wilson, who is leading an effort to land a huge aquatics center in the Citadel Mall area.

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