By Sarah Benedek

This story was originally printed in The Mountaineer and is run with permission.

Each year, the Haywood County Community Foundation presents a local citizen with a Philanthropist of the Year award, given to persons in the community who has contributed in some large way to the growth and development of Haywood County. This year’s winner of the award was Peggy Melville, and a ceremony honoring her was held on Oct. 25.

The awards ceremony is held each year around the months of October and November, and, according to HCCF’s local staff representative, Sue LeLievre, the honor is awarded to one or two people each year, last year’s award being presented to two individuals. While the foundation releases an ad in local newspapers one or two months before the ceremony asking for nominations, the ultimate choice is made by the foundation’s Board, consisting of Jim Bromley, Evelyn Coltman, Clay Dangerfield, Chuck Fultz, Robert Hawk, Brenda Hipps, Jennifer Jacobson, Don McGowan, Kip Ray, Charles Starnes, Elaine Stewart and Bob Wood.

Melville has worked on numerous boards and held many positions of leadership in Western North Carolina, including serving as Chairman of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, the Haywood Regional Medical Center Foundation and the Pigeon River Fund Board, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Haywood Community College, as President of the Haywood County School Foundation, the Hospice of Haywood County and Altrusa, as Treasurer of the Smoky Mountain

Economic Development Corporation and Altrusa, as Vice President of the Haywood Waterways Association, and as a board member with The Fund for Haywood County, Haywood Habitat for Humanity and United Way of Haywood County. She has been awarded multiple honors including the Haywood County Citizen of the Year Award in 2001 and the Haywood Rotary Club Citizen of the Year award in 2000.

In an interview with The Mountaineer last year, when asked what drives her to be such an avid community volunteer, Melville said, "I enjoy helping others and seeing things get done. Feeling that I can make a difference motivates me. I truly believe it starts with one person and each of us can be that person if we believe we can. We must just take that first step. When you take that first step, you will usually find others that want to make a difference as well. Sometimes they just need someone else to get the project started."

Gary Lance and Peggy Melville pose together after Melville receives a yearly philanthropy award.