Christy Turner’s face may be one of the most recognized in Zachary.
She’s a business leader, organizer and volunteer with a footprint that touches most aspects of life in Zachary. Turner, marketing director of Oakwood Village, was honored last month during the Zachary Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Banquet for what she does inside and outside her place of employment.
She was honored as the 2019 Chamber Ambassador of the Year because of her efforts to promote and support Zachary’s Chamber. “Chamber ambassadors are advocates for the chamber and Zachary," said Taylor Watts, chamber executive director. “They attend events, volunteer hours at the chamber, assist in ribbon-cuttings, help during Lunch and Learns.”
Watts keeps track of ambassador points in an online system that she setup. Once a year, the ambassador with the most points gets the award. The growth of the chamber and its ability to extend programming is directly related to the work of the members-volunteers.
“I am a one-woman operation, so volunteers and chamber members are the backbone to helping ensure the chamber continues to contribute to an ever-improving quality of life for the business owners and community members,” Watts said.
Turner is a native of Zachary, so her involvement reflects her upbringing in the town that has always been home. In addition to her work in the chamber, she is the vice president of the Zachary Charity League, a Lane Foundation board member, and coordinator of the Baker-Zachary Relay for life. She is on the planning committees of the Charity League Snack Packs, chamber events, the Chili Cookoff and the annual Lane Gala.
Some of those activities and outreach efforts grew from other activities. Turner has been involved in the Relay for Life effort for several years as a cancer survivor, as a team captain, and last year, she served as one of the two area coordinators.
Turner said the kickoff event is held in the fall, but the fundraising effort extends the entire year with teams making their relay in the spring. The 2018 fundraising effort started with a bingo-type game and included other events like a golf tournament, Painting for a Cure, Celebrity Waiter and Bark for Life with the goal to raise $50,000 locally.
The American Cancer Society meets a variety of needs. They offer patient services, such as Hope Lodge, where patients and their families can stay during cancer treatments away from home. There is a Hope Lodge in New Orleans and one is being built in Houston.
Charity League started as a Relay for Life team more than a decade ago. The team eventually morphed into a stand-alone organization specifically geared to the needs of the Zachary community. The Charity League has grown from eight to 30 members. The group raises funds that never leave Zachary, and they sponsor activities and events in the community.
“We are keeping the money in the community instead of outside the community because we didn’t have anything like that,” Turner said. “We can help someone in need, someone who is sick, or our fire department or our police department who gives to us every day and we can give back."
Turner said the organization has been extremely impactful because it thrives in a family atmosphere. “It’s because it’s close-knit, we are all family here, and we can help one another,” she said. “Each hand just keeps giving back.”
Turner said her visibility in the community helps her in her role at Oakwood Village. “People know me around town from the Charity League, Cast Iron Ministries, and the chamber, and they walk in the door and they know me because they have seen me around,” she said. “It helps to be someone in which they feel comfortable when they are leaving their loved ones in our care.”
Keith Dennis, the executive director of Oakwood for the past six months, encourages the staff’s community involvement and finds opportunities to engage and give back to the Zachary community. “He is very willing to come and help and he always wants to be involved,” Turner said. “The things that have changed since he’s been here have been amazing. We want everybody in the building, we want everybody in Zachary, to come, see and know about Oakwood.”
Community involvement and volunteerism flow both ways at Oakwood Village. Students earn service hours volunteering and community groups make regular visits to entertain and support the senior residents. “They love it, the residents love it,” Turner said. “You might not need us now, but when there is a need, I will try my best to help you or find someplace else that can help that is a good fit. We are not just here to take care of your loved ones, but to educate the community on what they need to prepare for the future.”
Turner’s family follows that mindset and are often at her side during community engagements. She has been married to her “teen crush” Duane Turner for 27 years. Team Turner includes three Zachary High graduates Taylor Turner, Margaret David, Gwin Marie Turner, new son-in-law Trey David, and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Alana Rogers.