When Donna Lawson sat down at the Arnold Chamber of Commerce’s end-of-the-year banquet, she had no idea what was about to happen—and then she saw her sister sitting across the room from a distance. Even then, it didn’t click with her.
“I just thought, ‘Why is my sister here?’” Lawson said.
And then she was announced as the 2011 Business Person of the Year by the Arnold Chamber.
“I actually became a little bit emotional. It’s just very overwhelming in a big way and everyone started clapping,” Lawson said. “It wasn’t discussed ahead of time (that she’d be receiving the award). I’ve never in my life had a standing ovation and it was so nice that they had that kind of respect.”
Lawson started her banking career in 1979, working for a small bank in Crystal City. She left banking for management/ownership in the health care industry and then went back into banking. She was with Arnold Eagle Bank for about five years when she was promoted to branch manager.
Honored and humbled to receive the award, Lawson, who now serves as assistant vice president and branch manager of Eagle Bank, always is looking for extra ways to be involved in her community. Now serving her second year as treasurer on the chamber’s board, she regularly attends board meetings, luncheons, breakfasts and other networking events. She also manages the organization’s budget with regular accounting reports.
When she was asked to take the place on the chamber board, she thought it was just going to be going to another meeting. However, Lawson said that it has been a pleasure to serve on the board and she doesn’t think of it as a chore.
“The chamber is a great partner for the City of Arnold, elevating its reputation among local and prospective businesses,” Lawson said. “We’re helping to make Arnold a better place, which is why I was so touched to receive this award. It’s been a remarkable experience.”
In addition to her work with the Arnold Chamber of Commerce, Lawson is a member of Professionals Referring Professionals; the Parish Council Secretary for Sacred Heart Church in Festus; the local American Red Cross Leadership Council; and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department S.A.F.E. team. She also volunteers at the American Red Cross, hosting blood drives two to three times a year.
“The truth is, working on the chamber board puts you close in contact with the board members. They give you the drive—they bring up the cause and to me, they way they present it, it’s always a good cause. It’s simply hard to say no, so if I can make it in my schedule I’m there,” she said.
Charities near and dear to Lawson’s heart include the American Red Cross and Children’s Miracle Network, where her sister is a coordinator.
“Once you start volunteering, it just comes secondhand. I say, ‘This is something that needs to be done' and I just do it,” she said.
Out of all of Lawson’s volunteer time, she recalls a day when she was hosting a blood drive on Eagle Bank property as a difference-making moment. The team collected 24 units of blood, which broke their personal record.
However, her personal biggest accomplishment was the standing ovation.
“People clap for you, but to look around the room—these are people and businesses that I see at least one a month and they felt that they needed to stand and clap for me,” she said.