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Jackson County gives Martin first Woman of the Year honor
Martha Martin, center, was named Woman of the Year by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce during the Women in Business luncheon Wednesday at the Jefferson Civic Center. This is the first year that the chamber recognized a woman of the year. - photo by SARA GUEVARA
Children are too young to vote, so often their wants and needs are overlooked by the majority of society, but not by Martha Martin. As she puts it, "helping children is my passion."

Martin is more than a woman of her word, she is also a woman of action and uses her passion for children to fuel her endeavors on multiple Jackson County boards and organizations that are dedicated to helping children.

"I can remember being a little girl at church, and if anyone had a baby, I made a beeline for them," Martin said. "If you can make a difference in a child’s life, you hope they will remember it and grow up wanting to give back to the community."

Despite her busy schedule, Martin still finds time to volunteer with various worthwhile causes, including the Amanda House, a foster home for teenage girls, and Dare to Share, an organization that raises money to donate to other groups that help children.

"I’ve been on the board of Dare to Share for the past five years. The organization has been around for six years, and in that time we’ve raised more than $900,000," Martin said.

Her efforts were recognized Wednesday by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business during the Women in Business luncheon.

At the luncheon, Martin was presented with the organization’s first Woman of the Year award.

"Women in business is the fastest-growing segment of the business community today," said Shane Short, president of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

"The (seven finalists) for this award are women in the community who stand out among the rest, and they are making a positive difference in their communities."

The luncheon was held at the Jefferson Civic Center.

"What a shock this is," Martin said after accepting her award. "When you hear all of the biographies about all of the nominees, I feel inadequate because they’re a lot of powerful, powerful women."

During the luncheon, Shirley Garrett, author of "Tap Water Girl in a Bottled Water World," served as the event’s keynote speaker.

"Shooting stars are kinda just there, but for the few minutes that they are in view, they completely light up your world," Garrett told the group.

"If your life is to be fulfilled, if your career is to be your calling, if you are to be a shooting star in a world of darkness — you must sing, live and lead from the top of your lungs and from the bottom of your heart," she said.

When Martin isn’t busy running her trucking business, Phil-Mart Transportation in Braselton, she is raising money for premature babies, abused children and community centers.

While Martin may feel undeserving of the award, she exemplifies the attributes the organization was trying to capture with the award, such as leadership and community service.

"I got into the trucking business at a time when it was hard for women to be in that industry," Martin said. "But my mama always told me that I could be anything and do anything, and I believed her. I just hope to pass that on to others."

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