09/28/07 — DGDC office workers pack for Europe

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DGDC office workers pack for Europe

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on September 28, 2007 1:45 PM

Valerie Gleason and Amber Jackson will miss their little office on Walnut Street.

They will miss helping to beautify a city they love so much.

But most of all, they will miss the community and the people in it.

And Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp.'s director, Julie Thompson, will miss them, too.

The two women will be leaving the area with their husbands who have received orders to transfer to military bases overseas.

Mrs. Gleason, administrative assistant, will be moving to Spangdahlem, Germany, and Mrs. Jackson, promotions coordinator, will be packing up to go to Lakenheath, England.

Neither will be enjoying the countries' trademark beverages when they get there.

"I don't drink beer," Mrs. Gleason said.

"And I don't like tea," Mrs. Jackson said.

Both are ready to embark on their next step in life, but Mrs. Gleason may be a little more so than Mrs. Jackson.

"It has been my life-long dream to live in Europe," Mrs. Gleason said. "I wasn't kidding about trying to make it a perpetual vacation."

But she has known for a year and a half that she was leaving.

Mrs. Jackson found out only a month ago.

"It was honestly more of a surprise, but we're excited," she said.

Both of the women have lived many places before -- California, Texas, Georgia, New York -- and they weren't sure about Goldsboro when they first came.

It later became a place for them to call home.

"Everyone was super nice," Ms. Jackson said. "Everybody was really friendly on and off base."

Is Goldsboro her favorite?

"It's not far down the list," she said.

What she really fell in love with was the community.

"I've never really seen a community as close-knit with the military," she said. "As far as the community goes, you can't beat it. I feel like I can talk to the mayor and to a wing's commander all the same. You don't get that in a lot of places."

She was amazed by the way people in the town took her in right away.

"There's something to be said about how the community made me feel right at home. I felt like I've been a part of a family in Goldsboro. It's very refreshing, and I felt so welcome and such a part of the community," she said.

Mrs. Gleason said she likes it in Goldsboro, too. She said she feels as though she has an Air Force family and a community family, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

But the people are the ones who make all the difference, she said.

"It's the people that I'm going to miss," she said. "I haven't really thought about it, but that's it -- the people. Of all the places I've ever lived, the people here are great. It's a small enough community where everybody knows each other."

Mrs. Jackson agreed.

"It sounds so cliché, but everybody knows your name -- it's true," she said.

Even the people at Sonic know Mrs. Gleason's name. She said she gets a large Diet Coke there every morning, and the same man waits on her and knows exactly what she wants.

"I'm going to miss that too," she said.

She said that in Germany, they don't have the same soda with ice mindset that Americans do.

"I asked my husband what I was going to do if I couldn't have my Diet Coke," she said.

After a few laughs came a few more and talk of tears.

"I think Julie is going to cry when we leave," Mrs. Gleason said.

Her last day will be Oct. 9, and Mrs. Jackson's last day will be Nov. 1.

Ms. Thompson said both women will be missed.

"Oh absolutely," she said. "There is a time when you get to remember why you love what you do and who you do it with... We work as a team to get things done, and when you have team members leaving, you have a whole. I think what we do requires passion, and when you work together with so much passion, you become closer."

Both plan on coming back to Goldsboro at some point.

"I definitely wouldn't mind coming back to Goldsboro and settling in or at least staying a little longer," Mrs. Jackson said.

Mrs. Gleason feels that she will at least come back to check out the progress on the downtown area that she has helped to improve.

"My husband and I have talked about coming back here. I am definitely coming back to see what has happened," she said.

A big pull for both of them to return is the part of the city they have spent their days working in -- the downtown area.

"I love our downtown, and I'm not just saying that," Mrs. Gleason said. "We have really great city officials and leaders that work with us to make Goldsboro better. I love that feeling of camaraderie to work together."

Downtown is Mrs. Jackson's favorite part of Goldsboro.

"The downtown community is great," she said. "We're really getting a variety of things to do. It used to be if you lived in Goldsboro, you would go to Raleigh or the beach for things to do. That's really changing."