When Nancy Cleveland moved to Macon in 2014 to get to know her family, she did not anticipate staying long-term. Despite having been born in “the heart of Georgia,” she grew up in New York City and had been long disconnected from her Macon roots. She made the move south but, anticipating a quick exit, kept her distance. However, after a few years of living withdrawn she decided it was time to engage with her community. By enrolling in Historic Macon’s Neighborhood Leadership Institute (NLI), Nancy began to understand how preservation can grow and shape a community. Upon finishing the program, Nancy joined HMF’s Engagement Committee initially to lend her marketing skills to the organization but ended up finding much more than she bargained for.
“My connections with Rachelle and Lauren created a feeling that Macon was home,” she says. “I was learning about different communities. By the time I joined the Engagement Committee, I really understood what the events are about and the fundraising goals attached to them. When I went to the Brunch at the Grotto, being behind the scenes changed things. Seeing all that went into a fundraiser- the catering, drinks, and flowers- and then also adding the educational component… that was fascinating. It just started building my feelings of connectedness with Macon.”
Before long, Nancy found herself envisioning a future rooted in this central Georgia town. Her big-city energy had been redirected into a place where her passion could make a meaningful difference and she couldn’t imagine leaving. Now she serves as the Communications and Development Associate at the Community Foundation of Central Georgia and is in the market for the perfect historic house to make into her permanent home.
And though Nancy didn’t discover the impact of preservation until later in her life, for Katie Griffis, her exposure was quite the inverse.
“Preservation has been a part of my life ever since I can remember,” Katie says. “One of my first memories is of the Flea Market. My dad brought me down there to visit my mom and grandmother, who were volunteering. I remember being so upset that I couldn’t stay and help with the Flea Market.”
But once she was old enough, Katie and her brother joined the rest of their family by volunteering with this long-standing fundraiser to support historic preservation within the Macon community. Her grandmother, Gloria Wynn, served at the first ever Flea Market and it has been a family tradition ever since. Next time there’s an HMF Flea Market, three generations can be spotted volunteering in the various roles. Gloria, Kathy, and Katie all agree that Macon’s history is worth preserving, evidenced by their lifelong (and multi-generational) commitment to supporting preservation efforts in Macon.
“I live in a historic area,” he says. “I adore anything that has historical significance. My home is a 1900 craftsman bungalow with a porch that has a bit of Tudor influence.”
In 2017, James joined HMF’s Neighborhood Leadership Institute as a representative of Napier Heights and continues to advocate for the preservation of the houses there. Napier Heights has recently been approved by the Georgia National Register Review Board, resulting in the district being listed on the Georgia Register of Historic Places and is in the process of being sent to the National Park Service for review to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. James’ passion for preserving his community is coming to fruition on a national level; made possible with his involvement and advocacy.
When James began volunteering with the Flea Market over ten years ago, it was because he wanted to take his membership to the next level. He knew that supporting a cause can take many different forms, and membership was just the beginning. James’ adoration of Macon’s historic charm is expressed through the care of his home, his advocacy for the Napier Heights neighborhood, and his support of HMF. “Historic Macon embodies the concept of preserving the culture and history of my neighborhood,” he says. “I’m so happy to be involved!”
For some, volunteering at the Flea Market has been just the beginning. Oby Brown began helping with the fundraiser over five years ago but more recently started lending his expertise to the organization in a whole new way. A writer and editor by profession, Oby contributes by writing features for HMF’s blog and offering editorial guidance for other content. It may be a non-traditional form of volunteerism, but its one that brings joy to everyone involved.
“I like volunteering for Historic Macon because its work produces tangible results all over the city,” he says. “The people there are smart, creative and care about this town. They are making a real difference in Macon’s renaissance, and I like being a small part of that effort.”
His features on this Second Street Facade and Macon’s Green Book generated quite the buzz in Macon and beyond! But Oby still loves the Flea Market and can be found moving furniture from here to there to here again at our Saturday Brew Crews and on sale weekends.
Flea Market Sale weekends are a wonderful showcase for the multitude of ways to engage. You’ll find HMF staff, volunteers, and board members all serving side-by-side to execute this annual fundraiser. Board member Larry Brumley enjoys joining the organization by serving during the sale. He says, “By volunteering, people extend the reach and effectiveness of the organization; they augment the staff and those who are already involved with their volunteer service.” A long-time member and board member of two years, Larry has gotten better acquainted with HMF through his engagement. “I’ve long had high regard for HMF. For more than 20 years I’ve observed their work in the community and the good things they have done to advance preservation and to foster economic development with restoring historic neighborhoods,” Larry says. “The most visible work that HMF does is preservation, restoring historic structures of a building and putting them back into service. But when I came on the board, I learned there’s a lot more that HMF does in terms of education, advocacy, and partnering with other organizations and entities in the community. It all works together to make Macon a better place to live, work, and play.”
There are many faces of preservation and many ways to express your passion for the Macon community. In the words of Nancy, “When you volunteer with HMF, you’ll meet great people but you’ll also find out something new about yourself that you didn’t know... Many times in Macon, people get to know an organization through one event and think that that is all that they do. But I would encourage people to really explore HMF. Stop by the office, they’re so friendly and find out all that they’re involved in. It is so many things, not just the Flea Market or Meet & Greets… go lift up the curtain.”
Nancy, Katie, Kathy, Gloria, James, Oby, and Larry are all the faces of preservation. And there are so many more! Be the face of preservation by volunteering, joining a committee or the board, attending our events and fundraisers, lending your expertise, following us online, subscribing to our monthly updates, becoming a member or preservation partner, and sharing our mission with your friends and family! Macon is preservation. And so are you.