For as long as she can remember, Megan Nichols Adams has always kept busy.
The notion of living actively – not just existing – was a value emphatically instilled in her by her mother, Penny Wheelis.
“My mom always wanted to make sure that my sister and I were well-rounded and plugged into our community,” Adams said. “She would always encourage us to pursue our interests, even if they were fleeting. She always taught us to finish what we started and give 110 percent. I think making sure I was continually challenged was important to her as well.”
Growing up in Alvord, she showed animals through 4-H and FFA, cheered for the pee-wee Cowboys and (beginning in seventh grade) for the Bulldogs, played basketball and was active in her church, on student council and National Honor Society. It was through involvement that she developed a knack for plugging in and giving back.
While attending Baylor University in Waco, she continued to cultivate that passion as a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, the Freshman Class Council, Invisible Children and the Baylor School of Social Work’s faculty search committee and advisory board.
Since returning to her roots four years ago, she has become the wife of two years to Cody, the mother of 21-month-old Lennon and the coordinator of Patient Centered Medical Home for Wise Regional Health System Clinical Care Associates.
She’s gotten involved in the community by serving on the Wise County Committee on Aging (for which she created and headed a fan drive), on the United Way Board of Directors, the Alvord city council and Economic Development Corp., and the Decatur Junior Woman’s Club.
“I am really involved, but not overly,” Adams said. “I never want to halfway do anything. If I’m going to do something, I want to be fully committed to doing it to the best of my abilities, especially when it’s something I feel so strongly about.”
That devotion, passion and willingness to help does not go unnoticed, especially among fellow members of the woman’s club. Last month they named Adams their 2012-2013 Woman of the Year.
“Megan was an easy selection because she always takes the initiative to go above and beyond just being a mere member of our organization,” said club president Mary Lois Spain-Sipes. “Besides this, she has a heart for service and loves giving back to the community.”
ROLLING UP HER SLEEVES
Adams wasted no time in stepping up to larger club roles. After joining in May 2010, she volunteered to be the membership officer, a post she held for two years. This past year, she chaired the Wise Hoops 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and will serve as vice president and chair of the golf tournament in the upcoming year.
“If she was not chairing an event, she was always willing to step forward to assist in any way that she could,” Spain-Sipes said. “Megan had a hand in all the fundraising events this year … She was instrumental in another record-breaking year of fundraising for the club.”
This year, the club raised at least $10,000 at each of its four key fundraisers – the Park Classic golf tournament in the fall, the Daddy/Daughter Dance in February (which saw a surge in attendance from 311 in 2012 to 548) and the basketball tournament in March.
Previously, only one event (last year’s Wise Hoops) had broken the $10,000 mark.
Club members credit the success of the events not only to their hard work, but to the community they serve.
“From the people who attend the tournaments or the dance to the people who underwrite the expenses through sponsorships, thank you,” Adams said. “We couldn’t do what we do if it weren’t for the people in our community.”
This year’s support enabled the the club to award $33,000 in donations, including $7,750 each to CASA of Wise and Jack Counties, Raquel’s Wings for Life, Wise County Christian Counseling and Wise Choices Pregnancy Resource Center. Decatur Parks and Recreation and a fellow member whose family member underwent a tragic medical emergency each received $1,000.
“The donations have literally more than doubled over the last three years,” Adams said. In fact, the club donated $8,000 total more this year than in 2012.
Adhering to the values instilled in Adams by both her mother and the club, there is no room for complacency.
Club members meet once a month from September to May. Although they are currently in their “off-season,” planning is well underway for next year’s activities. The 2014 Daddy-Daughter Dance has already been scheduled for Feb. 1.
In addition, a fifth fundraiser is planned in the form of a 5K race in September. Organizers hope its success will enable them to adopt a fifth charity.
“The organization is growing,” Adams said. “Women join the club for different reasons. Some join it for the social aspect; it’s their outlet. Others do it to give back. We have a mix of different people, which generates new ideas.”
Spain-Sipes added: “As we continue to grow and raise more money, we have the opportunity to give as much as we have.”
It’s that desire to expand an already widespread outreach that initially drew Adams to the club.
“Junior Woman’s Club has a deep reach in terms of community impact,” she said. “It funds multiple organizations [which change each year as voted on by club members], and there are opportunities to develop a sense of community and relationship in each outreach.
“For example, the Daddy-Daughter Dance is a great opportunity for little girls to spend quality time with their dads. Since this is the community where I grew up, it certainly increases the value of what I do. Having a daughter that will grow up in this community also exponentially adds to that.”
Although she joined the club to plug in to the larger community, the sense of community within the club keeps her around.
“You develop great friendships with women you can call on for anything,” Adams said. “You are around like-minded people who are career- and family-oriented and who value giving back. Plus, it’s very refreshing to not be immersed in medical jargon and community resources.
“Don’t get me wrong – I love being able to connect our patients with the medical resources that can help them. But it’s also nice to drink some wine and plan a golf tournament.”
Spain-Sipes says club involvement can be demanding, but its purpose is worthwhile.
“Members give a lot of themselves, but it’s always a good time,” she said. “We take care of fun business while we eat and drink and socialize.”
Adams agrees, adding: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my involvement. It’s a fulfilling experience, and I feel no sense of obligation. I’m excited to do it because I find it to be a worthy use of my time.”
That passion and selflessness, Spain-Sipes said, is what made Adams deserving of the award.
“All of our members are hard-working, dedicated and would do anything for anyone,” the club president said. “But Megan Adams stands out. The fact that she won by a landslide is proof of that … It’s always a great thing to have someone in your organization that is as dynamic, engaging and warmhearted as her.”
Humbled, Adams deflects the credit.
“I did not expect that award,” she said. “We’re talking about such a great group of value-oriented, hard-working women. I think they are the salt of the earth. For them to think that I stand out – it’s a huge honor. It makes me want to do better next year to maybe motivate and inspire other people to join and help.
“It’s why we do what we do.”