Nine years ago the Black Mountain Beautification Committee wanted to honor one of the committee’s founding members and thus created the Willie Headley Service Award. Headley’s ancestors — the Kerlees — were early pioneers in the Valley and Willie grew up in the community. When she and her husband Bob retired in Black Mountain, Willie hit the ground running, playing an instrumental role in making the Town Square what it is today. She worked with the women at the Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women, helped to rehab their greenhouses and began a program for the women of the Center that continues to this day. It has been said that if Willie wanted to get something done, no one told her no. Sheenvisioned what she wanted for the town, and made sure that it happened.
Unfortunately, Willie passed away before seeing the Town Square come to fruition, but her drive, determination and vision had an impact on everyone in the town, whether they were fortunate enough to have met her in person or not.
The Willie Headley Service Award 2020, named in honor of the visionary, was presented to Joyce Ackerman on June 16, during an online meeting. The Black Mountain Beautification Committee selected Ackerman for this year’s award based on her unwavering dedication to both the committee, the town and her help carrying on Willie’s vision.
Joyce and her husband, Fritz, moved to Black Mountain in 2012. Almost immediately Joyce jumped right into volunteering with the Black Mountain Beautification Committee; she has had a huge impact in many ways. She not only co-chaired the annual Garden Show, which is the committee’s largest fundraiser, but Joyce was also instrumental in getting the first t-shirt sale off the ground.
In addition, she worked with vendor development, created the raffle and served as the Workshop and Hospitality Chair. No Garden Sale would be complete without Joyce’s outstanding emceeing abilities.
Part of the money raised at the Garden Show is dedicated to giving back to our community through the Seed Money Grant, which Joyce created. She wrote the criteria, developed the protocol, and chaired the Seed Money Grant committee for four years.
If you’re one of the many people who enjoy seeing the scarecrows, Rocky & Rockette, in Town Square each fall, you can thank Joyce along with Mary Werner for those mascots of fall. As if all this isn’t enough Joyce also maintains four plant containers on Cherry Street, has maintained garden sites throughout town, helps with holiday decorating, has served as the committee Secretary and Garden Site Coordinator and coordinated the creation of the garden site signs.
These are just a few of the many ways Joyce has shown her commitment to the Black Mountain Beautification Committee and her love for our town.
While you are walking or driving around town and notice the well-maintained gardens, beautiful plants and our picturesque Town Square, thank Willie Headley for her vision and thank volunteers like Joyce Ackerman who keep that vision alive. Congratulations, Joyce!
Previous winners of this award were Joyce Black-Woerz, Susan Chabot, Libba Fairleigh, Maggie Krogh, Suzanne Money, Mary Werner, Mary Leonard White and Tom Woerz
Check out this great video