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Effingham Magazine

Julie Hales - Grand Marshall of the 40th Annual Christmas Parade

Story by Cindy Reid | Photos by Tonya Perry

The Grand Marshal is an honor given to someone who has made significant contributions to their community, someone who has given unselfishly of their time and talents to improve the quality of life for their neighbors. This year’s Grand Marshall of the 40th Annual Rincon Lions Club Christmas Parade is Julie Hales, who has been “giving back” to her community for decades. Truly a local hero, she has been involved with every level of volunteering in a multitude of organizations and is always ready to lend a hand, especially to those in need. Being named Grand Marshal is a title she never expected. She says, “I was absolutely shocked to be asked, shocked and humbled. When I was called by the Lions Club about being the Grand Marshall, I truly thought they were joking with me at first. It took a minute to sink in. This is an amazing honor and I feel privileged to be a part of such a wonderful event.” The Rincon Noon Lions Club decided upon Julie for the Grand Marshal because of her service to the community. Destiny Bradshaw, Ready2CONNECT Director and Lions Club member says, “We wanted to support someone who supports our community in such an impactful way. Julie is more than the magazine. She has a very philanthropic spirit and gives back to local charities that are close to her heart. She's shared the stories and journeys of so many people in our community, now we would like to know about her next chapter." Julie has a long list of charitable commitments and contributions. Currently she is on the United Way Board of Directors, the Josh Reddick Foundation Board, the Effingham County Sports Hall of Fame Board, the Effingham Health System (EHS) Patient Advisory Council and the EHS Foundation Board of Directors. Some of her additional contributions include: Helping Youth Helping children is near and dear to Julie’s heart. She says “Children are our most vulnerable, and most precious, citizens. I have worked with several local elementary schools and organizations in hopes to better the lives of our youth.” She founded WAAK (We're All About Kids) Optimist Club, where she was the Founding President and served as President for two years. This organization helps at-risk children and those who may be less fortunate than others. Julie also started a Mentoring Program at Springfield Elementary School and was named “Volunteer of the Yea” for her work at the school. She later started one at Sandhill Elementary as well. One of her dreams is to start a county-wide mentoring program for the youth in Effingham County. She says, “I already have the plans drawn to approach the Board of Education. I have just been waiting for the right time.” She has performed volunteer work for Treutlan House. She and fellow members of the Optimist Club were huge advocates for the boys, providing Thanksgiving dinner, playing ball with them and providing monies for them to have an occasional night out for pizza and movies. Greater Community The Effingham Recreation Sports Hall of Fame is meaningful to Julie because, “Sports have always been a huge part of my family’s life. My father played baseball when he was a young man and went on to coach boys’ baseball. But, with three girls, he had to make a change. Once my sisters and I were old enough to play, he willfully took over as our coach.” They gave Julie an award for her sixteen years of support and dedication at their 2019 induction banquet. She was also inducted into the 2019 Class of Effingham County Sports Hall of Fame, following her father’s footsteps, as he was inducted in the inaugural year. She is a former member of Rincon Noon Lions Club and the Effingham County Chamber Ambassador Team, where she served as Chair in first year of its inception and was subsequently named “Ambassador of the Year.” She has served on the Effingham Victim Witness Board of Directors and has been on the United Way Board of Directors for fourteen years, serving as Campaign Chair for two years. Julie has been deeply involved in raising funds for various organizations. In addition to being the Campaign Chair for the United Way twice, she also served as the Chairperson of the American Heart Association’s Cardiac Arrest for two years. She served as the Effingham Chair for the American Diabetes Association Kiss-A-Pig Campaign, where she was named Innovator of the Year. Local Lady An Effingham native, Julie attended Effingham County High School and Armstrong State College. She worked in Savannah at a young age, but later found her passion in the media world and was able to secure a position in Effingham at the Effingham Herald. “There is nothing like being able to make a living doing what you love…and being able to do it in your hometown.” After ten years with the newspaper, it was time to try something of her own. She says, “I am the founder of the very first community magazine in Effingham County. I served as owner and publisher of Effingham Magazine for the past 13 years. I recently sold the magazine in order to be home and take care of my mother, who lives with me.” Julie received her Real Estate license in 2005, and worked as a part time Realtor since then, now going to full time. She currently works with Coldwell Banker Intercoastal Realty in Rincon. She says, “Of all my accomplishments, I think founding the magazine must be close to the top of the list. I know it is something our county needed at the time and I have been honored and blessed in so many ways. Every card and letter and email I have received over the years from the people we have featured has touched my heart...and the best compliment I could ever ask for is for someone to tell me how many lives I have touched over the years through the pages of the magazine. What an honor.” “I am thrilled to be the Grand Marshal and I know the Lions Club is putting together a fantastic line up. It is going to be the best parade yet. So, come on out and I will see you there!” 40th Annual Rincon Lions Club Christmas Parade was held on Saturday, November 23, 2019, 10:00am.