Howard’s beauty runs deep

Published 8:26 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When customers visit the Clinique counter at the Belk store in Bainbridge, they may not realize that the smiling beauty adviser helping them occasionally has some serious challenges to her own beauty routine.

That’s because when Candace Howard isn’t selling fragrances, mascara and moisturizer, she’s suiting up in boots, suspenders, gloves and helmet to fight fires or perform emergency rescues.

Howard is a firefighter and emergency responder with the Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department. She’s also a fund-raiser, church youth director and full-time college student.

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Because of her many activities, Howard received the Belk Award of Excellence during an awards ceremony in Charlotte, N.C., in October where Belk Manager Threasa Hall presented the award to her. Howard was one of five or six winners out of 139 applicants from throughout the Belk corporation.

Howard joined the local store in February 2007 because she says she was attracted to a job that involves helping others and taking care of customers. She started out in gift wrap and then moved to the floor as a sales associate—first in accessories and later at the Clinique counter where she refers to her co-workers as the “greatest on earth.”

Howard’s dad, Greg Brock, is a fire captain with the Mount Pleasant VFD, and her mother, Tammy, is a firefighter with the VFD.

As soon as she could, their daughter took and passed the basic firefighting class, quickly demonstrating that firefighting is in her blood. In fact, in her first year of service with the fire department, she received the Rookie of the Year award.

Recently, Howard responded to her first call involving a home that was fully engulfed in flames. She entered the burning house and helped contain the fire, calling it one of the most dangerous, yet exhilarating, experiences in her life.

When recent torrential rains in the Bainbridge area led to some flooding of the Slough Loop area last year, Howard worked with a sandbag crew to block the floodwaters from entering homes. When the barriers were complete, she remained in the area to evacuate homeowners, protect their belongings and keep others out. One neighbor still refers to Howard as her guardian angel because Howard stayed with her and helped comfort her as the floodwaters rose. Their friendship later led to an opportunity for Howard to present a fire prevention education program at the woman’s church.

When she’s not on a medical emergency or fire call, Howard raises money for first responder teams and the victims of fires and natural disasters. This includes helping with her volunteer fire department’s annual barbecue, raising funds to assist burn victims and supporting a holiday food and toy drive organized by the Decatur County Fire and Rescue Department and the Georgia Industries for the Blind. She also organizes sales venues and sells T-shirts to benefit the Wiregrass Area Red Cross.

Howard says one of her favorite volunteer events is the annual Bikefest, when bikers from all over the country roll into Bainbridge for a long weekend of fun and entertainment.

With all of these volunteer responsibilities, Howard still finds time to serve as assistant youth director at her church, work at Belk on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then attend night classes at Bainbridge College where she plans to graduate this spring with an associate degree in business administration.

Howard encourages her fellow Belk associates to be active in their communities so they can experience the amazing feeling of helping someone in their time of need. Like her father and mother, she’s dedicated herself to volunteer service, and is making a positive difference in her tight-knit community.

As part of Howard’s award, Belk donated $300 to the Mount Pleasant Fire Department in honor of you.