Three individuals were recognized for their significant contributions and service to the people of the Pee Dee area at the 2014 Marion Medallion awards ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 27 at the FMU Performing Arts Center.
Medallions were presented to pastors Henry Badie Jr., and Clyde Odom of Florence and Henry Brunson of Latta. Badie and Odom have battled to create support and networks of assistance for the homeless and destitute in the Florence area. Brunson is the founder of Cooks for Christ, a grassroots non-profit that annually raises tens of thousands for worthy causes in the area.
FMU President Dr. Fred Carter said all three of the 2014 recipients have made “sustained and significant contributions” to the improvement of the Pee Dee Region and its people.
The Marion Medallion is a three-year-old award, sponsored and presented jointly by Francis Marion University and the Morning News of Florence. The medallions are awarded on or about Feb. 27—Francis Marion Day — every year. The medallion is, of course, named for General Francis Marion, the revolutionary war leader who led Patriot forces in the Pee Dee Region, and who is the namesake of FMU.
The idea behind the medallion stems from a 2009 report on the challenges faced by the communities along the I-95 corridor in South Carolina, including the Pee Dee. A recommendation in that report was to find ways to celebrate the good works of the people of the region. Executives from FMU and the Morning News discussed this idea and the Marion Medallion was born. It was first awarded in 2012. It is the intent of the two sponsoring institutions that the medallion will awarded in perpetuity.
The criteria for indentifying and selecting medallion recipients is deliberately broad. Eligible recipients must have contributed in a significant manner to the well being of the citizens in one or more of the counties in the Pee Dee. Potential recipients are not restricted by geographic or topical boundaries, and recognition may be for sustained service over many years, single actions, or combinations thereof. No fewer than one and no more than four recipients will be selected during a calendar year. The recipient’s activities may address single issues or multiple areas of need. Recipients of the Marion Medallion are identified and selected by the senior executives from FMU and the Morning News.
Previous recipients include Kathy Baxley, executive director of the Darlington Free Medical Clinic (2012); Henry Johnson and Hayward King, chief executives of the Lake City based W. Lee Flowers Company (2012); former Florence Police Chief Ralph Porter, executive director and founder of CHOiCES Charter School (2013); and Bill and Olive Timberlake of Hartsville (2013).
The medallion award is an actual medallion. It is a gold-plated bronze piece that weighs 2.5 pounds and is 6 inches in diameter. Francis Marion’s likeness is on one side. The recipient’s name is engraved on the reserve side.
About the 2014 recipients:
Pastor Henry Badie Jr.
Badie was honored for years of tending to the needs of the east Florence community, both through his church and beyond. In particular, Badie is a long-time advocate for the needs of the homeless and destitute in Florence, and is among the founders of the J.H. Sherman Food Pantry. More than 60 people are served weekly from its location beside Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ on East Pine Street.
Badie’s personal and pastoral generosity is well known in the community surrounding the church, where he daily looks for ways to help and serve those in need. That, says Badie, is filling his calling to “bridge the gap” between haves and have nots.
Badie is a native of Chester, Pa. who moved to the Florence area with his wife, the late Joyce Badie, a Pamplico native, many years ago. He is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
Brunson was honored as the founder of Cooks for Christ, a grassroots non-profit organization created more than two decades ago by Brunson and other employees at Smurfit Stone (RockTenn) in eastern Florence Country. Then, the group hosted small, multi-pot chicken bog fundraisers to support co-workers facing daunting life situations. Today, the organization takes on similar projects but on a much grander scale. Cooking up tons of bog – it’s not uncommon for Cooks for Christ to sell 2,000 plates at a single event – it raises money for families, individuals and even some groups, across the Pee Dee and beyond.
Brunson credits Cooks for Christ’s growth to the “hand of God working through me and many others.” Brunson is no stranger to public service. He’s a founding member of the Latta Rescue Squad, a 50-year veteran and former chief of the Latta Fire Department, a long-time Boy Scout Leader and a member of Gideon’s International and two different prayer groups. Besides the Marion Medallion, Brunson has received the Order of the Palmetto and was named Dillon’s 2013 Citizen of the Year. Earlier in his life, he spent four years in the U.S. Air Force.
Brunson and his wife Dottie have been married more than 50 years.
Pastor Clyde Odom
Odom was recognized for his tireless advocacy for the homeless in Florence, a city he says God “called him to move to” more than a decade ago. Odom and his wife Pat found their way to King of Kings Church in north Florence where they reached to “the least” of their community and began a wide-ranging ministry of assistance.
Odom’s vision for assisting the homeless and destitute in Florence developed into the House of Hope program, a partnership with the City of Florence, in which dilapidated homes are rehabilitated by volunteers, then occupied by families in transition from homelessness and other dire situations. Odom and company help House of Hope residents develop needed skills so they can create and execute a plan for their future. This all-encompassing approach fits Odom’s belief that members of God’s kingdom should be “saturated with love.”
Odom is a native of New York and a veteran of the U.S. Army. He and Pat have, between them, four children and 10 grandchildren.