GREENVILLE, NC (March 27, 2022) – The Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce recognized Reverend Dr. Rodney Coles, Sr., and Henry W. Hinton with two illustrious awards during its annual membership celebration on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the Hilton Greenville. Coles was honored as the chamber’s 2021 Citizen of the Year, and Hinton received the chamber’s Legends Award.
Coles, a native of New York City, is the pastor and founder of The Children of God in Christ Church in Greenville, a church he founded in January 2007 – a year after relocating to eastern North Carolina. In the fall of 2007, Coles had a vision for outreach in the community and founded Churches Outreach Network (CON), a public nonprofit that serves the community through a network of community leaders that are pastors, ministers, organizational leaders, and business professionals. CON provides a network of community referrals, resources, assistance and help to those in need.
Through CON’s mission of “feeding and helping the hopeless,” several ministries and programs have been birthed including The Inter-Faith Clergy, based on pastors, ministers and community leaders meeting and coming together once per month to address the needs of the community, and the Community Action committee that works with law enforcement and faith-based organizations.
Coles has a passion for giving people a second chance, evident through his involvement with the Pitt County Reentry Program to help justice involved individuals successfully transition back to the community. He established the We Care Program at the Greenville Community Shelter to provide resources, training, and support to those who temporarily live inside the shelter, live in the community, are homeless, and those formerly incarcerated. In 2021, Coles initiated Crossing the Bridge Fathers and Men’s Conference to inspire and direct fathers and men to pathways of success and provide a support system to prepare men to take their rightful place in the family.
Coles has been on the front lines of providing meals to those who are food insecure through a food boxes program, which distributes healthy meals throughout the community. He coordinates regular events such as providing hundreds of Thanksgiving meals to those in need during the holiday season, and the annual Toys for Tots drive which distributes toys to over 25,000 children throughout the region.
“For a man who knew nothing about this community just 15 years ago, he has left an indelible mark on the lives of many,” said Tom Kulikowski, interim president and chief executive officer of the Greenville Eastern North Carolina Alliance. “The organizations he has created to help those in need are bedrocks of our community.”
Coles, who received his Doctor of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary, is the 54th recipient of the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year Award that honors a man or woman who has made significant contributions to the Greenville-Pitt County community within the past year.
The chamber presented Henry W. Hinton, president and general manager of Inner Banks Media, with its prestigious Legends Award, a special honor given on occasion to recognize a citizen whose service to the community has been so significant in various activities over a sustained period that the history of Pitt County could not be written without their inclusion.
Hinton, a graduate of East Carolina University, has championed numerous projects over the years that have had tremendous impacts on the growth of Pitt County and its citizens. When the efforts were underway to get the North Carolina General Assembly to fund the East Carolina Heart Institute, Hinton led the charge for local support.
“Henry was responsible for a coalition of local citizens who met with numerous legislators of the General Assembly to fund the East Carolina Heart Institute,” said Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., former director of the institute and professor of cardiovascular surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “Those efforts resulted in $60 million in funding for the heart institute and were extremely important as eastern North Carolina had one of the highest incidences of cardiovascular disease in the country. Today, those efforts have led to a reduction of the mortality and morbidity of our citizens and economic prosperity for Pitt County.”
Hinton served on the UNC System Board of Governors from 2013-2017 and was instrumental in lobbying the board to support funding for several ECU projects, including the ECU Main Campus and Health Sciences Campus Student Centers, and the expansion of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. He also played a key role in helping ECU secure its $90 million Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building that opened in November 2021. With support from fellow members, more than $350 million in new capital funding was approved for ECU during Hinton’s four-year term on the board of governors.
Hinton’s company has been heavily involved with several local organizations to help raise funds to increase their footprint and provide services to the citizens of Greenville and Pitt County. Inner Banks Media has designed various radiothons for the Pitt-Greenville Crimestoppers, Children’s Miracle Network (benefiting James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital), and Pitt County Operation Santa Claus, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars – all of which has stayed in and directly benefited Pitt County. In 2018, Inner Banks Media spearheaded a Hurricane Florence relief concert in Minges Coliseum, featuring the nationally renowned Avett Brothers, that raised $325 thousand for eastern North Carolina charities and their efforts to support victims of Hurricane Florence.
“Henry is always open to using his unique and far-reaching platform to share our fundraising events and communicate to those in his center of influence about the critical role Maynard Children's Hospital plays in sick and injured children's lives here in eastern North Carolina,” said Rhonda James, director of development for the Vidant Health Foundation. “The commitment Henry brings to our efforts has been phenomenal.”
Hinton joins a list of just nine other individuals who have received the chamber’s Legends Award, which was first presented to the late Walter Williams in 2007.
Additional awards presented during the celebration included the 2021 Ambassador of the Year and Young Professional of the Year.
Rob Campbell, account manager for CopyPro, Inc., was named the 2021 Ambassador of the Year, as voted on by his peers in the chamber’s Ambassador Program. The Ambassador Program consists of volunteers from the chamber membership who donate their time to assist the chamber in various activities and encourage meaningful and beneficial participation in chamber-related programs. Campbell has been a chamber Ambassador since 2015 and is the 11th recipient of the award.
Maria Satira, director of marketing and communications for the Greenville Eastern North Carolina Alliance, was named the 2021 Young Professional of the Year. Satira is the sixth recipient of the award that recognizes a Young Professionals of Pitt County member who demonstrates a dedication to the organization and to Pitt County through strong leadership, teamwork, and integrity. Satira serves on various local advisory councils and boards, and recently published a book entitled, An Introduction to Media Relations for Nonprofit Organizations. The Young Professionals of Pitt County operates in conjunction with the chamber to provide a foundation for future leaders while creating a better place to live, work and play.
Lauren Phillips, Director of Marketing & Communications
(252) 752-4101 ext. 2228