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LifeHouse board member wins humanitarian award

This story appeared in the Ruston Daily Leader, Feb. 11, 2014. Used with permission. Photo courtesy Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.


By Nancy Bergeron

 For Chris Turner, working at Ruston’s Super 1 Foods was supposed to have been just a college job.

“I was buggy boy, bathroom cleaner, gofer, everything,” Turner said.

Now, 20 years later, he’s the store director, with a second-floor office that has a large plate-glass window offering a bird’s-eye view of almost all of the nearly 55,000-square-foot market.

“I started working for the company and it was a good company to work for,” Turner said. “I can’t sit at a desk. I’m a people person.”

Turner’s generosity and community activism earned him the Ruston Rotary Club’s 2013 Bill Best Humanitarian Award. The award is given for outstanding contributions to humanitarian interest, unselfish giving and service to others, and is one of the top civic honors a Lincoln Parish resident can attain.

“I was shocked, got goose bumps,” Turner said, recalling the day he learned he’d won the award.

Turner, a native of Oak Grove, came to Ruston in the early 1990s to attend Louisiana Tech University. He started working at Super 1, a subsidiary of Brookshire’s, when the store opened in 1993. By the time he graduated from Tech with a business degree in 1999, Turner was assistant store manager.

 In 2004, Turner left Ruston for a stint in the Alexandria-Pineville, followed by two years in Magnolia, Ark. He returned to Ruston in 2008 as local store director.

“I wanted to win the lottery, but, hey, I haven’t done that, so I had to get a real job,” Turner quipped.

Brookshire’s encourages all of its stores to be involved in their community. Though the Ruston store has a long history of supporting a variety of causes, Turner said he’d upped that involvement “to a whole new level.”

“Everyone in the area knows his heart and has been touched by his generosity,” Ruston resident Ben Humphries said in nominating Turner for the humanitarian award.

Under Turner’s direction, Super 1 has hosted radiothons, partnered with the schools, faith-based organizations, sports and community groups to raise funds and awareness for a long list of causes.

“I enjoy it,” Turner said. “What better way to brand the Super 1 name? You go you and help the people who make you successful.”

Turner attributes his community-mindedness to his upbringing and his family.

“So why not give back?” he asked. “If you’re here and you’re not trying to make this a better place, why wouldn’t you?

Ruston’s Super 1 logs over 825 community service hours annually, making it the leader for community involvement among the 152 Brookshire’s affiliated stores nationwide.

“If you put back into the community, you get return from a business standpoint,” Turner said. “From my standpoint, it’s just satisfying.”

Turner said two of his favorite endeavors are the annual Christmas dinner program and the elementary school backpack program.

The Christmas dinner program, done in conjunction with Rotary Club of Lincoln and Christian Community Action, provides about 2,000 people a ham dinner with all the trimmings.

The backpack program, a partnership among Super 1, the Ruston Kiwanis Club and Ruston Rotary Club, provides youngsters food to take home for the weekend. The program serves 160 children at three Ruston schools.

Turner offers uncomplicated advice on community involvement: “Pay it forward. Give back. Make it a better place to live.”

In addition to his service through Super 1, Turner is a member of the boards of director of Troupe Dixie and LifeHouse Ministries. He is a reading volunteer at the Lincoln Parish Early Childhood Center and can often been found cooking at Tech alumni and tailgating events.