I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

Davenport, Jones honored for community service

Joyce Picture.jpg
1 of 4

Joyce Jones


By Trent McGee
Pitt-Greenville Chamber

Monday, January 21, 2019

A woman who helped hundreds of people overcome obstacles to gain employment and a man who helped guide the development of the hospital and agribusiness in Pitt County received high honors over the weekend for years of community service.

Joyce C. Jones, the driving force behind Pitt County STRIVE program and the LIFE Of NC Empowerment Center, and S. Lawrence Davenport, vice president of Davenport Farms Inc. of Pactolus, were recognized Saturday by the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce during its Annual Golden Gala membership celebration at the Hilton Greenville.

Jones received the 2018 Citizen of the Year Award. Davenport was honored with the chamber’s Legends Award.

Jones, born in Bethel, recently retired as the executive director and founder of the nonprofit LIFE of NC Empowerment Center at the Third Street Community Center in west Greenville. She has more than 32 years of experience in human services.

Jones founded LIFE of NC in 2000 and was instrumental in bringing the STRIVE program to Greenville. STRIVE is a nationally recognized job readiness and attitudinal training program that teaches the “hardest to employ” individuals the skills necessary to obtain and maintain gainful employment.

This training helps individuals develop positive attitudes and better decision-making skills. The organization also sponsors the successful Pitt County Reentry Program that helps individuals transition back into the community from recent incarcerations.

Under Jones’ leadership, STRIVE has impacted thousands of people by empowering them to move ahead as responsible citizens. Over 2,700 participants successfully trained and graduated from the program during her tenure and 73-percent of graduates have attained gainful employment. Additionally, 611 returning citizens transitioned back into the community through LIFE of NC’s reentry program.

“Joyce has been a tireless advocate for providing opportunities and support for many who found themselves in our criminal justice system,” said Pitt County Superior Court Judge Marvin K. Blount III. “Through her efforts with the LIFE of NC and STRIVE, many offenders have made a successful transition to become productive members of our society.”

Jones has received numerous accolades during her professional career, including: 2003 Best-Irons Humanitarian Award, 2017 LIFETIME Achievement Award by the STRIVE National Institute of New York, 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the Interfaith Clergy of the Churches Outreach Network of Pitt County, and a 2018 Resolution of Appreciation from the Pitt County Board of Commissioners.

“Under her tireless leadership for the past 18 years, Joyce has impacted thousands of people by empowering them to become responsible citizens in this community,” said Kris Carroll, president of Grady-White Boats, Inc. “Joyce’s legacy is defined one life at a time, by the people who are now fortunate enough to live as productive citizens. Without a doubt, her work has been vital to our community.”

Jones is the 50th recipient of the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year Award, annually given to a man or woman who has made significant contribution to the Greenville-Pitt County community.

The award represents a prestigious recognition by the community of the recipient’s commitment and dedication to the advancement of the Greenville area.


The chamber honored Davenport with its Legend’s Award, given to community leaders whose service has been so significant in civic, economic, political, educational and/or religious activities over a sustained period of time that the history of Pitt County could not be written without their inclusion.

Davenport is the vice president of Davenport Farms Inc., which consists of 3,600 acres of land in Pitt County used to produce food and fiber crops, and the retired president of J.P. Davenport & Son Inc., a fifth-generation family farm corporation in Pitt County community of Pactolus.

J.P. Davenport & Son conditions wheat seed in addition to soybean seed, contracting with 20 to 30 growers to provide seed beyond the wheat they grow themselves. Additionally, the business engages in biofuels, oil recycling, and wildlife management and conservation to improve the environment.

Davenport graduated from N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1965 with a degree in Crop Science and has a distinguished history in leadership roles with the university.

He served on the NCSU Board of Trustees for nine years, three as chairman. He currently serves on the Wolfpack Club board and NCSU Investment Funds board and was also a founding member of the NCSU Board of Visitors.

He and his wife, Sarah, are the co-chairs of the Think and Do The Extraordinary Campaign for N.C. State. The campaign, which started in 2016, is the most ambitious fundraising effort in the university’s history, with a goal of $1.6 billion in private support by 2021.

Davenport received one NCSU’s highest honors, the Watauga Medal, in 1996 and was named a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Distinguished Alumnus in 2001.

“Lawrence has been an incredible ambassador for N.C. State and an outstanding community member in Pitt County,” said NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson. “His service has extended beyond N.C. State to the greater North Carolina community, particularly through his support of agriculture.”

Since the 1980s, Davenport has held a number of leadership roles at the local, county and state levels. He was a founding member and former chairman of the Golden LEAF Foundation, a board he served on for 18 years. Davenport also has held leadership roles with the Vidant Health and Vidant Medical Center (formerly Pitt County Memorial Hospital) boards.

While serving on the Pitt County Memorial Hospital board from 1989-1998, he held roles including vice chairman and chairman. During his tenure, the hospital went through a period of great expansion and today, Vidant Health is an eight-hospital, not-for-profit health system serving 1.4 million people in eastern North Carolina.

After some time away from the hospital boards, Davenport was reappointed to the Vidant Health board in 2011 and will serve through 2019.

“For decades, Lawrence has arguably been one of the most influential people in guiding and growing the success of what was Pitt County Memorial Hospital and now Vidant Health,” said Eddie Smith Jr., chairman and CEO of Grady-White Boats, Inc.

“He also for many years has been, and continues to be very active with the success and growth of East Carolina University as a valued adviser to leadership at many levels of the university.”

Davenport has served as president of the N.C. Crop Improvement Association and was named the association’s Man of the Year in 1990. He also served as president of the N.C. Foundation Seed Producers Association.

Davenport was awarded the N.C. Agribusiness Council-Governor’s Award in 1991 and is a 2002 recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award. He has served as a member of the U.S. Tobacco Inspection Commission and is currently a board member of the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina.

Davenport has dedicated much of his time and expertise directly to Pitt County. From being an integral part of the privatization of Pitt County Memorial Hospital in the 1990s to carrying forward his great grandfather’s legacy in Pactolus, Davenport is firmly and forever rooted in the history and future of Pitt County.


The chamber also presented Megan Jones, assistant vice president and branch manager of Woodforest National Bank in Greenville with the 2018 Ambassador of the Year Award. Jones, the seventh recipient of the award, was very successful with building and maintaining relationships with members for the chamber throughout 2018.

The Ambassador Program consists of volunteers from the chamber membership who donate their time to assist the chamber in various activities and encourage meaningful and beneficial participation in chamber programs.

Travis Albea was recognized as the 2018 Young Professional of the Year. Albea is the owner of Albea Law and co-owner of FreshVibes. He currently serves as chairman of the Young Professionals of Pitt County and has helped implement networking events and community outreach initiatives for the organization.

Albea is the third recipient of the award that recognizes a Young Professionals member who demonstrates a dedication to not only the Young Professionals organization, but to Pitt County through strong leadership, teamwork, and integrity.

The Young Professionals of Pitt County operates in conjunction with the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce to provide a foundation for future leaders, while creating a better place to live, work and play.

Trent McGee is director of marketing and communication for the Greenville Pitt-County Chamber of Commerce.