After working for 40 years at BB&T Bank, Clegg “Chip” Sell wanted to spend his retirement relaxing and doing the things he’s most passionate about. So when he retired in 2010, he knew doing something outdoors would be included on his new “to-do” list.
“I always loved the outdoors, from conservation interests to hiking trails, or just taking long walks to get some fresh air,” said Chip. “Nature has always been my respite and my place of solace.”
When Chip saw an article in the local newspaper last year requesting volunteers to apply to help build local trails with The Thread’s Trail Masters Program, he was eager to apply. He said he never thought he’d be selected to participate in the first class of volunteers for the program and was honored to participate.
“The training was a wonderful learning experience and it taught me so much about trails, and the important efforts going on right here in our community to build more trails and connect people to nature,” he said. “From the first time meeting the staff and understanding the cause and need, I just knew I was doing the right thing by volunteering for The Thread.”
And volunteer he has. Since last October, Chip has volunteered more than 50 hours of service to The Thread. He helped build trails during workdays at the Nation Ford Greenway, Long Creek Preserve, and most recently at Buffalo Creek Preserve. He’s also volunteered at several community events, representing and informing others about The Thread. He also offers his personal testimonial to funders and other volunteers regarding why he volunteers and the importance of supporting the nonprofit community.
Chip, shown here giving another volunteer a pulaski lesson, has donated more than 100 hours of his time to both The Thread and CLC since last summer.
“It’s so rewarding to know that you are making a difference in the community while doing something you are passionate about,” he said. “Trails offer great benefits to our communities and encourage people to get outside and get exercise. It’s just a great feeling to help build trails that I know will be here for the next generation.”
Thread Trail Volunteer Coordinator Amanda Anderson said Chip just has a special knack for working with people, giving his time, and motivating others to give their time, skills or dollars, too.
“We appreciate Chip so much,” said Amanda. “What he does is so important for our volunteer program and The Thread as a whole. Chip has gone above and beyond to help build trails and spread the word about the importance of what we are doing. He’s a true joy to work with and we are thankful to have him on our team!”
While volunteering for The Thread, he learned more about Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC), the lead agency for The Thread, and offered his assistance. Andy Kane, stewardship associate for CLC, works with Chip regularly to monitor preserved properties.
“From day one he has given his unconditional support and dedication to The Thread and CLC,” said Andy. “You can tell he loves to be outdoors and has a thirst for nature and conservation. He’s a great person, delightful to work with, and has always been there to help us. It really makes a huge difference to have his steady support.”
As a stewardship volunteer, Chip has volunteered countless hours to help CLC staff monitor properties, eliminate invasive plants, build fencing, and helps remove debris from properties. He’s also applying his banking expertise to help CLC identify distressed properties for conservation purposes.
Even in his retirement, Chip doesn’t mind staying busy. From taking his grandchildren to the mountains, spending time on the golf course, and giving back to the community, he welcomes this new chapter in his life.
“I am very fortunate and happy to give my time and effort to causes that are important to me, like The Thread and CLC,” said Chip. “I advise other people and potential volunteers – young and old – to follow their passions and enjoy what they do. Because if they do, they’ll never see it as work.”
Chip was awarded to 2011 Volunteer of the Year at a surprise announcement at the “Tread The Thread 5K” Trail Race and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk on May 12. In addition to bvolunteering for the Thread and CLC, Chip volunteers weekly at the Union County Animal Shelter.