Listening to Debbie Hillman talk about her life’s passion is enough for anyone to learn why she was selected as a finalist for The Covington News’ and General Mills’ 2016 Hometown Hero Award Friday.
Sure she was chosen as one of three finalists from around a dozen nominated Newton County residents for the honor. She was also honored by the Newton County MLK, Jr. Holiday Observance committee earlier this year for her work in the community. This week she will even be a presenter at the 46th Annual Conference of the National Black Child Development Institute in Orland this weekend, helping to guide her compatriots how to help others.
But those accolades aren’t what keeps Hillman pursuing a life of service. After all, she was helping her community since she was a child, following the example of her parents.
Hillman’s father, Garland Hillman served on the Newton County Board of Education and her mother, Zelman Hillman-Stewart, served at the local hospital. There are two scholarships at Piedmont Newton through Zelman Hillman-Stewart.
With that background for helping others established, Debbie Hillman joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in college at South Carolina State. She stayed with the sorority when she attended graduate school at Ohio State University.
She is a charter member of the Chi Tau Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and actively works today through that sorority as its connection chair. Monday, following the Hometown Hero ceremony at General Mills, Hillman ran voting drives at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Salem High School and Sharp Stadium.
“My position is involved with political action but also it is focusing on issues in the community,” Debbie Hillman said. The life-long member of Bethlehem Baptist Church is also a charter member of the Rockdale/Newton section of the National Council of Negro Women, President of Community C.A.R.E.S Foundation, Inc., a life member of the Newton County NAACP, a charter member of the East Metro Orchids and a board member of Angie’s House.
That’s in addition to her full-time job with National Black Child Development.
How does she find time to do it all? Her answer is simple.
“I just do it,” she said. “I believe service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy here on earth.”
She has been paying her rent for a while now and continues to do so, enjoying her time at General Mills Friday arm-in-arm with 14-year-old Marlee Anne Hopkins, who won the 2016 Hometown Hero award. With people like Hillman and Hopkins providing their talents to the Newton County community, it proves that people of all ages can contribute to a better hometown.
“I just think you’re never too old or young to serve,” Debbie Hillman said.