He has “a servant’s heart.”
He’s a “quintessential” Corinth citizen who loves his family, is devoted to his church and has always been an superb civic leader.
His name is Joe Vann – a lifelong Corinth resident who graduated from Corinth High School, stuck around his hometown for over 70 years and has impacted so many lives along the way.
Even though the 2020 edition of the Charity Ball, the local Junior Auxiliary chapter’s banner fundraiser, was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions this year, a Outstanding Citizen of the Year was still selected.
Vann was presented with the honor during a special surprise dinner at Vacari on Friday night. The small party only included his family, some who came from across the country just for the happy occasion. A video was shown highlighting Vann’s many life accomplishments and messages from dozens of community members who submitted nominations in Vann’s honor.
To receive JA’s highest honor, the organization requires the person have completed successful work with area youth, the underprivileged and minorities. Cultural, educational and civic impacts made to the community are a must. It’s all about how a person is making or has made lasting contributions for the betterment of Corinth and Alcorn County.
A check mark easily appears next to Vann’s name for each of these criteria.
Thought his love of the Boy Scouts of America, he made an impact on young people, including taking several young boys under his wing while serving as a local troop leader.
“He showed me what it meant to take care of your own business, be a man and take ownership for your actions,” said one local who received Vann’s guidance during his Boy Scout days.
Vann was instrumental in the formation of “Horizon,” an effective school-support group, as well as being an active member in the creation of The Lighthouse Foundation.
“Joe was a member of a small group that met regularly in prayer. In 1995, the group formed The Lighthouse Foundation, which continues to make an impact on youth in the community,” a recommendation letter stated. “His leadership also helped develop The Toy Store, held each holiday season and provides free Christmas presents to children.”
Freedom Fellowship was another organization born from Vann’s passion. It came together after visiting a Mission Mississippi meeting in Jackson where he got ideas and the spirit of unity to bring different races of people together in the community.
Vann is a former member of Corinth Rotary Club where he served as president and received the coveted Paul Harris Fellow award. Other affiliations over the years have included the YMCA, later known as the Corinth Y.
Following his CHS days, Vann attended the University of Mississippi. He has spent his life married to his wife, Cindy, and the couple have five children, Paige Vann Berger (Keith), Joel Vann (Lauren), Fred Vann (Genna), Gigi Fikes South and Brian Fikes (Melissa), as well as 12 grandchildren.
In addition to serving one term as Corinth alderman, Vann has also operated his own insurance company over the years. He’s a member of First Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder among other positions on numerous church committees.
When it comes to improving the area he loves, the well know civic leader has always been a visionary.
He served on the board and as president of the Corinth- Alcorn County Chamber of Commerce, which he pushed for an organizational name change to The Alliance. He’s always been concerned with the relationship between city and county government and thought The Alliance name change he hoped such would remind everyone that working together was best. He often worked as a liaison between the two local governments.
From his leadership with The Alliance, the community activist was one of six founding members of the C.A.R.E. Community Foundation. His passion for improving the community’s infrastructure and long range planning ignited with his work on the Commission on the Future of Alcorn County.
While at The Alliance, he was appointed to the NASA Impact Committee where he was very active. Efforts from that committee resulted in a new Corinth High School being built, as well as an expansion at the local airport of runway and instrument landing system.
“He has a love and concern for Corinth and Alcorn County and his efforts to make it a better place to live,” said one nomination letter. “Joe has great foresight and he never ceases to make an effort to see that the community’s needs are met.”
The C.A.R.E. Foundation made a $1,000 contribution to JA in honor of Vann.
Such donations are critical moving forward for the the local nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of Corinth and Alcorn County children through special programs and scholarships.
“More children than ever will need our help over the next year, and not being able to hold the Charity Ball places an even bigger burden on our chapter to fulfill the needs asked of us,” said JA Second Vice President Heather Kuykendall. “We want to encourage everyone in the community – businesses, organizations and individuals – to make a donation to the Junior Auxiliary. It will help us tremendously.”