The Henderson County Democratic Party is recognizing those who go above and beyond to help their communities with a new award honoring outstanding contributions to education, civil rights and volunteerism.

The inaugural Be One Good Apple awards were created to acknowledge three community members who have devoted their efforts to bettering ther community. The party shares the same values, said Committee Director Jeannie Medlin.

"We value eductaion, civil rights, anti-discrimination, and we value very much paying it forward, working for the next generation," she said.

The award program was started to reach out into the community and recognize the people who are paying it forward, who are volunteering to make the community better and to "pay forward all the goodness they've received in their life and work for future generations."

"We wanted to elevate the conversation," said Michelle Tennant, a party precinct vice chair. "It's beyond politics. It's about what's best for our community here in Hendersonville."

She said it's also about developing civil discourse and common ground, about coming together on important issues regardless of politics, and because "(we) all want to be good apples."

A pool of about 50 nominees, chosen for their integrity, service, empathy, self-awareness and motivation, were narrowed down to the three winners. The committee will hang on to the nominations of those who weren't chosen for the final awards, hoping to make the awards an annual event.

2018 winners:

Civil rights: Clay Eddleman

Medlin said Eddleman was chosen due to his hard work getting the LGBTQ community organized. He currently serves as the 11th District chair for LGBTQ Democrats of North Carolina and helped organize the recently chartered LGBTQ Democrats of Henderson County, the first of its kind in the 11th Congressional District and in Western North Carolina.

Community Service: Cindy Ellis

Ellis was chosen by the committee because of her work to organize precincts and her volunteerism with the Get Out the Vote campaign to encourage more people to participate in the democratic process.

Education: Ray Stone

Stone received the award thanks to his work on several educational boards in the state, including being heavily involved with community colleges.

At noon Saturday, May 26 at Hendersonville Country Club, the recipients will be presented with hand-blown blue glass apples by local artist Alison Chism, with a silver chain hanging from the stem with the winner's name.

The featured speaker will be Anita Earls, a candidate for the N.C. Supreme court and founder of the Southern Coalition for Justice. Earls is an attorney who's done extensive work in civil rights.

Medlin said the event is open to the public, but is ticketed. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or the county Democratic Party headquarters at 905 Greenville Highway in Hendersonville.