Celebrating the local community is second nature to Larry Williams, store manager at Mount Vernon, Indiana-based McKim’s IGA. He’s been in the grocery business since 1967 and was recently winner of IGA’s first-ever Spirit IGA Award, presented for Williams’ “infectious enthusiasm for the IGA brand, and relentless dedication to the community he serves.” From being involved in the community and giving back to local charities, Williams makes it his mission to put IGA at the center of his community and spread his Hometown Proud spirit in every way he can.
So for Williams, it seemed natural to take his dedication a step further and start recognizing the achievements of others in the community who embody that same spirit.
“There are so many people working hard for the community, I thought ‘let’s come up with a way to recognize that,’” he said.
Williams created a “Hometown Hero” award to celebrate community achievement. The first one was given to Tina Parker, a second grade teacher and local leader who's involved with the local Humane Society.
“Tina is an inspiration to everyone. She has been instrumental in helping turn her school around from a near failing school to an Indiana ‘A’ rated school the past two years. Quite an accomplishment,” said Williams.
He’s gotten to know Parker through her volunteer work running the Posey Humane Society, a role that found her advocating on behalf of animal-friendly ordinances and speaking out at Mount Vernon City Council meetings, where Williams serves as a councilman. McKim’s IGA has also hosted several fundraisers and sells cardboard paw prints in the store to contribute to the cause.
“It’s an organization we like working with. Tina spends countless hours looking after unfortunate and lost animals. People call or text her all hours of day or night when their pet goes missing or they find a lost one. She was the obvious choice for me for the first award,” he said.
While he’s got a list going of at least three other people he’d like to recognize next, he wants to keep the spirit of the award spontaneous. “There’s no criteria or schedule for the award. It’s more when I see something that goes above and beyond,” Williams said. “They give back because it’s in their hearts. That’s the kind of people I want to recognize."