On December 10 of last year, Alicia Hollis arrived for work as usual at Kent-Sussex Industries (KSI). She had been told that she was giving a tour at 8:45 AM that morning and was surprised when she heard that the staff was expecting a local television station.
“My tour didn’t show and the next thing I knew, Craig (Crouch) was leading everyone in singing Christmas carols as we waited for WBOC to arrive,” Ms. Hollis said. “Initially, I thought we were shooting a commercial or something and that I had not been informed. In a large business like KSI, communication sometimes breaks down, and I thought I had been left off the email list because I am not integral to the commercials. My feelings were hurt that I hadn’t at least been informed that WBOC was going to be in the building.”
At KSI, Ms. Hollis is the Director of Community Relations. Since 1962, KSI has provided rehabilitation and job services to individuals who may have obstacles to employment, including developmental and physical disabilities. Throughout her work day, Ms. Hollis helps disabled individuals gain a feeling of independence as they perform job duties at the company. In order to be nominated for a Jefferson Award, the recipient must demonstrate giving to the community, kindness, helping people and community involvement. According to Angela Davis, who nominated her for the award, Ms. Hollis’ dedication to helping others goes far beyond her job at KSI. Ms. Davis says that whenever someone in the community expresses a need, Ms. Hollis is there to help and this goes far beyond what is expected of her.
“Kids have come out of high school needing a car, Alicia has helped them fund a car,” Ms. Davis said. “Girls have needed prom dresses, Alicia has helped fund those dresses. Anything someone needs, Alicia will help do.” Ms. Hollis is also on the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford Board of Directors and serves on many committees through that organization.
Ms. Hollis was a strong supporter of breast cancer research, even before she became a cancer survivor. When one of her students was diagnosed, she shaved her head in support and held the woman’s hand throughout the treatments. Ms. Davis said that surviving cancer made Ms. Hollis a very strong person.
Ms. Hollis said that she has gotten a lot of recognition through the television segment where she was recognized as the tenth of ten award recipients for 2015. She said that she will be attending a recognition ceremony on March 9 and will attend a dinner later in the year as well.
“I am so honored and so humbled,” Ms. Hollis said. “It’s very overwhelming to see the number of people who sent their congratulations. I feel very blessed. I love being kind to people. It is easy to give a smile or a positive word and there are times I need that, too. Feels kind of funny to be recognized for what I think people should be doing. So many people have helped me in so many ways.” Ms. Hollis said that hearing the support from Mr. Crouch who is the CEO of KSI, meant a lot to her. She said that throughout her health battle, Mr. Crouch was supportive and she will always treasure that support.
The Jefferson Awards Foundation awards community members considered to be “unsung heroes.” Named for Thomas Jefferson, who had a strong belief in giving back to the community, the Jefferson Awards are considered the gold seal of public service. Recipients are active public servants who are dedicated to helping others.