Sheila Baynes: 2018 Community Strong Person of the Year

Sheila Baynes has lived in Danville for over 35 years.  She graduated fromLeadership Southside XXII and is a Middle Border Forward alumna. In addition to working full time in a local law office, Sheila serves on the Danville CommunityCollege Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors for Haven of the Dan RiverRegion, and the Board of Directors of Goodwill of South Central, Virginia,Inc.  She is a member of several organizations including Danville Riverview Rotary, Mothers Stronger Twogether, I Am S.A.R.A.H, Dan River Non-Profit, Friends of the Old West End, RiverDistrict Association and others.  Sheila also volunteers for many organizations and events.  She served on the Danville 2017 Mayor’sChallenge Committee.  In her spare time, she attends Danville City Council meetings, work sessions and numerous workshops and Chamber of Commerce Events. Sheila sees herself as a Danville Ambassador and works to promote thec ity and all that it has to offer. 

Recently, Showcase sat down with Sheila to discuss her love for her community.

SC: Why is community involvement so important to you?

SB: Community is HOME, I want to shape it , grow it, and help it bloom.  I love meeting people, listening to their story, sharing a laugh or two while we work together.  The ties that bind us develop when we come together and work to build our future.  Everyone has a role to play, we just need to play it. WE are our community.

SC: What inspires you to volunteer?

SB: Volunteering itself inspires me.  It seems like the more I volunteer, the moreI want to volunteer.  Being around people, seeing smiles, hearing laughter, watching everyone having a good time makes me happy.

SC: How do you balance life, work, and community involvement?

SB: Balance? I’m not sure my life is balanced. Work is five days a week and frequently lunch is a board meeting or volunteering at an event.  I have remained married to the same man for 47 years, so I guess we have the right balance.  He likes gardening and solitude. I am a people person and enjoy being involved in the community. We enjoy traveling to the beach and trying new restaurants and just relaxing together.

SC: What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? 

SB: Always do your best came to my mind as soon as I read this question.   Another is to think before you act or speak.

SC: Who are your real-life heroes and why?

SB: My mother is a fighter, and that has allowed her to overcome hardship and keep on going.  Our first responders are heroes, they do so much and ask for so little. Those in our community who work tirelessly to help make our community all it can be. 

SC: What is it about Danville that makes it special to you? 

SB: I was just asked this question by a couple from Pennsylvania who were looking at Danville to see if they would like to retire to here.  My first reply was not  life shattering, but it was sincere “Danville is a friendly and giving community.” I also added that we are a reasonable distance from the beach, mountains, and many other great places to visit.  I suggested that they explore the beautiful homes in the Old West End and referred them to theFriends of the Old West End website where they could possibly find the home of their dreams.

SC: Do you have a favorite quote, and if so, what is it?

SB: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa.  Also “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”-George Bernard Shaw. These are the “me” I try to be.

SC: How do you recharge? What do you like to do outside of work and volunteerism?

SB: We all need time to recharge and my favorite place to do that is at Myrtle Beach. I love to look at the ocean, feel the breeze, and listen to the waves.Most of the time I just kick off my shoes, read, watch a move, try to grab some extra sleep, and just relax at home.

SC: What is your idea of happiness?

SB: Happiness is a combination of family, friends, and community.  Put all of it together, add love, smiles, laughter, and mix it up.

SC: What are your favorite things to do in Danville?

SB: I love to sit downtown by the fountain and relax.  I love seeing the pieces of art around the River District and like taking pictures of them.  I enjoy the farmer’s market and going to music events; I so love to dance!  I also enjoy going to Rotary meetings even though they are at 7:30 AM. And, most of all, I love to volunteer. 

SC: What are your visions for the future of Danville?

SB: Relationships will be strengthened, and engagement will be the norm.  We will continue be become a more diverse and welcoming community.  I am looking forward to seeing neighborhoods revitalized and growth of businesses throughout the city.  We will have more small shops in individual communities for easy access to shopping, food, and entertainment.  More activity will center around the river.  Infrastructure improvements will be in place for gas and electric needs.  I expect to see more growth in our and I believe that our best days are yet to come.