Parking Lot Mission, Chuck MacNeil recipients of 2019 Marion Medallions
FLORENCE, S.C. – The Parking Lot Mission and Chuck MacNeil, the retiring director of the Pee Dee Regional Transit Authority, were recognized Wednesday as the 2019 Marion Medallion recipients during the annual ceremony at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center.
The Marion Medallion is given on behalf of Francis Marion University and the Morning News each year to individuals or organizations who are dedicated to serving the community. The ceremony takes place on or near Feb 27, which is Francis Marion Day. The award is named for Gen. Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War general in the Pee Dee and the namesake of the university.
Francis Marion President Fred Carter gave the history of the Marion Medallion, which has been given to members of the Pee Dee region each year since 2012.
“The purpose of the medallion and the recognition afforded to the medallion is to recognize individuals or sustained acts of civic commitment recognition of the service and sacrifice shown by General Francis Marion and his militia more than 240 years ago,” Carter said.
Over the past eight years, Francis Marion and the Morning News have recognized 20 individuals or organizations for philanthropy, generosity, charity, civil service or ministry in the region and community, Carter said.
Carter introduced MacNeil as the first recipient of the 2019 Marion Medallion for his commitment to the PDRTA. Carter called him a man “who came here on a mission.”
MacNeil moved to South Carolina in 2010 after working a long career with the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, N.Y. MacNeil then began working with the PDRTA, and within a year, MacNeil met with 70 groups and individuals to raise support. Now, the PDRTA serves 260,000 riders and provides affordable transportation for people, which Carter said is due to MacNeil’s compassion and commitment.
“On one hand he’s recognized for what he’s built; on the other hand, he’s recognized for the cause he’s championed,” Carter said.
MacNeil said he was surprised and dumbfounded when he learned he would receive the award.
“As I listened and tried to digest what was happening, I thought at any minute the alarm clock was going to go off, I’m going to wake up, get out of bed and put the coffee pot on,” MacNeil said. “The alarm clock never sounded, and with the impressive assembly of guests still in my sight and speaking, I then started to understand the senses of humility, honor and shock.”
Carol Roach, one of the founders of the Parking Lot Mission, received the second 2019 Marion Medallion on behalf of the mission.
Roach founded the mission with her husband, Larry; Greg Bonham; and Janet Owens in October 1993. The group, who were all members of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, began serving food on Saturdays to help meet the needs of people who would go hungry when the Manna House wasn’t open.
Morning News Regional Editor Don Kausler Jr. introduced the Parking Lot Mission.
“I sincerely thank you for recognizing the Parking Lot Mission,” Roach said. “It is a great honor for me to accept the Marion Medallion on behalf of the 14 churches who presently serve the Parking Lot Mission.”
Roach said there are many people who the award is for, including churches, businesses who donate food items, schools that do food drives and others who collect and distribute food during the mission.
“This award really belongs to the people we serve, because that’s the poor, the needy and the homeless,” Roach said. “That’s because without them there wouldn’t be no need for the mission.”
Roach said the mission fully relies on God to provide the mission’s needs. Roach had three wishes for the Parking Lot Mission: having it in the HopeHealth parking lot, many churches to volunteer and many school-aged children involved – all of which have happened, she said.
“Anything is possible with God,” Roach said. “With his guidance and his time, all things are possible.”
The award will hang in the HopeHealth building on East Palmetto Street so that the people the mission serves will be able to see the award, Roach said.