ABERDEEN – Last week’s annual Mississippi Main Street Association Awards in Jackson yielded honors for several Main Street associations statewide, including Aberdeen.
Longtime Aberdeen Main Street member Sara Gardner was presented a Main Street Hero award for her dedication to the organization.
“I never felt like a hero to anything. It felt like a flush of pride that I was called a hero of our town,” she said of winning the award. “Being involved in activities here, it’s my town and I feel it’s important that we all do that. Don’t just leave it for someone else to do.”
Aberdeen Main Street Director Ann Tackett nominated Gardner because of her dedication to the organization and to the town.
“She’s a supporter, a business owner, a former board member, and she served as board president for six years,” Tackett said. “She has always been a team player.”
Gardner owns the Cottage Tea Room.
“We opened the Tea Room in 1998 and have had people from all over North Mississippi, South Mississippi and out of state who come. We joined Main Street before we opened the door. I think it’s important to join, whether you’re a business or an individual; support the projects; and support the leadership,” she said.
According to Tackett, Gardner has been supportive of such Main Street events as the farmers market and dinner fundraisers in recent years.
“She’s always been a sharing, caring kind of person. Anything we’ve asked her to do, she has stepped up to the plate,” Tackett said.
Gardner reflected on how teamwork between Main Street and other entities helped make a fundraiser featuring chef Robert St. John and artist Wyatt Waters a huge success.
“There were several of us involved, and it took all of us to do it. Kathy [Lusby] was at the chamber, and she secured the place. It was called Georgia Gulf at the time, and they supplied funds, and the hospital helped with the cooking. When it came to serving, my children and grandchildren from Maryland came to help, and we had a lot of people who had worked in the restaurant area who helped,” she said.
Additionally, Gardner has helped in supplying items for Main Street’s ongoing depot renovation. Years before opening the Cottage Tea Room, she served as director of nuring at Aberdeen-Monroe County Hospital and played a role in the formation of the hospital’s ladies auxiliary group, which assists patients.
“Mrs. [Hershey] Turnage and Marie Sparks were interested in forming a ladies auxiliary. They met with me and the administrator to see how we could do it. There were times when the hospital needed office help at a clinic or a nurses’ desk answering the phone. They delivered juice and mail. It was an asset to see these ladies come to talk to patients and do errands for them,” Gardner said.
In recent years, Aberdeen Main Street has been represented in the statewide awards ceremony through Sam Jaynes, R.G. Buxton and the late Lawson Grimes’ contributions to the town and organization.