Terrye Davidson may very well be the friendliest person you’ll ever meet.
But her impact on the lives of Jackson County residents, especially area youth, goes far beyond her smile and positive attitude.
She has a way of inspiring others to become leaders in the community and has involved herself in organizations and initiatives that improve people’s lives.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
On Friday, she was recognized by one such organization.
In a virtual presentation, Davidson was named the 2020 Girls Inc. Champion.
The honor is bestowed annually during the club’s Celebration Gala, which was conducted virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stacey Williams, Girls Inc. board member and gala co-chair, introduced Davidson and presented the award.
“The first thing that strikes you about Terrye when you meet her is a sense of boundless energy and enthusiasm,” Williams said.
Davidson said she was humbled and honored to be chosen as a champion for girls.
Having lived in Seymour since she was 2 years old, Davidson has given back to the community her whole life.
When she was in elementary school in the late 1950s, she joined the old Girls Club, which later became known as Girls Inc., and enjoyed taking classes and hanging out there with other girls.
Some of the members decided they wanted to play ball like the boys did in Little League.
At that time, it wasn’t encouraged or common for girls to play sports, but Davidson and the other girls didn’t want to just watch.
“I vividly remember Betty Owens and Louise Bollinger, who were the director and assistant director back then, listening to us and then they responded by creating an opportunity for us,” Davidson said. “They put together several teams that summer from the Girls Club so that girls had a chance not only to play but to compete.”
Even at a young age, Davidson saw the importance and need for girls to have the same opportunities in athletics that boys had.
“Because of girls and women like Terrye, who wanted to do more than just sit, the limits for girls today are thankfully much different,” Williams said.
A Purdue University graduate, Davidson went on to become a physical education teacher at Brownstown Central Middle School for more than 20 years and later became an elementary school counselor, a position she held for 19 years.
“As a retired educator, I don’t think there’s any better way to shape the future than to provide opportunities for young girls so that they can develop the self-confidence to pursue their hopes and dreams, to provide the support as well as the guidance to help them navigate the challenges and the barriers of life and to encourage and push them not just to pursue but to go beyond that comfort zone to do things that they think aren’t possible,” Davidson said.
She was Brownstown Central High School’s first volleyball coach and coached track and cheerleading at the middle school. She is the only woman to be named to the Brownstown Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Not a lot of girls were sitting on Terrye’s watch,” Williams said.
But Davidson’s contributions to the community are not all related to sports.
She also has volunteered and provided leadership to the Jackson County Court Appointed Special Advocates program, Community Foundation of Jackson County, Centerstone of Indiana, YoJack youth leadership program, iGrad program at BCHS and First United Methodist Church.
She served as the director of Leadership Jackson County for nine years and was the president of the Girls Inc. board of directors in 1999.
The biggest challenges young girls face today are stability and influence, Davidson said, and that is why she has remained an active supporter of Girls Inc. as an adult.
“Girls Inc. is an organization that attempts to improve both of those things for our local youth, and with women like Terrye to look up to in their own county, their futures look brighter,” Williams said.
Davidson credits the women in her life, including her own mother, female friends and daughters-in-law, for giving her the ability to achieve the high expectations she sets for herself.
Her father taught her integrity, honesty and work ethic through his example.
“Unfortunately, there is a huge number of girls in our county who don’t have the same chance to get the structure, the expectations, the positive role models and the encouragement needed for them to realize their potential,” she said.
Girls Inc. fills that void for many girls in Jackson County, she said.
“They provide stability and acceptance, a place to go after school to get homework support, to gain knowledge and personal awareness along with exposure to relevant career information and skills as well as those positive role models who listen and then can reinforce those values that are necessary for success in life,” she said.
The need for those services is greater than ever, she added.
“Girls Inc.’s mission to empower girls to be strong, smart and bold speaks to the need,” she said.
This marked the sixth year for the Girls Inc. Champion award. Past award winners are Joanna Myers, Amanda Dick, Marvina Lewis, Rexanne Ude, Deb Bedwell, Mary Anne Jordan, RaeAnn Mellencamp and Debbie Laitinen.
Williams said all of the honorees have been surprised they were selected for the recognition.
“To me, it’s confirmation that we made the right choice when the women we honor see their contributions as commonplace,” Williams said. “The women we honor at Girls Inc., including Terrye, are perfect examples of selfless success.”