Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce is set to honor six Under 40 Stars on Thursday, but for one honoree, his journey to this award began with tragedy, a mistake and more than a decade of redemption for poor judgment in his past.
“Thirteen years ago, when I was 22 years old and the very definition of young and dumb, I made a mistake,” David Westberry said in a prepared statement during an interview with the Index-Journal. “A poor judgment that’s brought pain for all parties involved and continues to bring pain in my life and shame to my name and family.”
Westberry pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor in September 2010. He was sentenced to 15 years suspended to 90 days and 5 years of probation. On Monday, he expressed remorse for his past.
“While my present actions have apparently deemed me worthy of this award, I cannot begin to express the level of remorse I have for the mistakes I have made in my past,” Westberry said. “I can and do, however, apologize to those who have been or might feel hurt by them.”
He said he has taken “great leaps of faith” to try and restore dignity to his name.
Westberry also recounted when tragedy struck his life at an early age, losing his mom to domestic violence when he was 10 years old.
“Since that moment, I have been shown the greatest love and care a community can provide,” he said.
“In the face of extreme adversity, I could’ve given up, I could’ve allowed my circumstances to define me, to stand aside and let everyone else bear the burden of community business, but I chose to serve when and where I could,” Westberry said.
An honor graduate of Lander University, he served in the Blue Key Honor Society. He developed and organized a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Greenwood. Now, he serves on its board of directors. He is also a member of Greenwood Festival Chorale and Connect Young Professionals, a post on the Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce Facebook page said.
“I completed the Leadership Greenwood program through the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and am currently working with my team to organize a fundraiser to support the student food pantry at Lander University,” Westberry said.
Westberry said he is not one to brag about his service.
“I tend to prefer to let my reputation speak for itself, but I feel at this point I should speak up,” he said.
Throughout this process, Westberry found a way to not only improve something in the community, but also himself.
“I did not perform these acts of service to be recognized, I saw a need and tried to make it better,” Westberry said. “Moreover, I saw a need in myself and have tried to make myself a better person, a better citizen and I’ll continue to self-improve.”
The Greenwood Under 40 Stars award was established by the Chamber’s Connect Young Professionals to support and honor emerging leaders in the community. Residents of the greater Greenwood area between the ages of 21 and 40 are eligible to be nominated.
Nominees should demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession, seek opportunities to be involved in the life of the community and serve as role models for their peers, personally and professionally.
“We believe one’s character is determined by their present actions and contributions to a better future,” David Dougherty, interim CEO of the Chamber, said in a release. “We believe all individuals are capable of great things and the past does not define them.”
He said the recipients are doing great things within the community.
Westberry said giving back is what he wants to do.
“All I have ever wanted to do is give back to Greenwood, the community that has given me so much,” Westberry said.
The Chamber will honor Westberry along with five other Under 40 Stars at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Harris Baptist Church.