By AMBER POMPA
Bonita Malone may be new to the position of executive director, but she is no stranger to DrugFree Greenville.
Her love affair with DrugFree Greenville began when she was working for Ainsworth & Lambert, CPAs. Sharon Kroncke came in looking for accounting services for the non-profit organization and Malone was assigned to the job.
She did the accounting for the organization for over a year before being brought on as treasurer for the DrugFree Greenville board of directors.
“To be a part of the community ... to step out and do something community-related was the initial impetus,” said Malone about her interest in joining the non-profit. “Later, when I became president, I had just had my first child and was thinking, in particular, about the health and welfare of youth and drug prevention. At that time the newspaper headlines seemed to be all about gangs and drug-related crimes and I wanted to do my part to help protect the youth of our community.”
Drug prevention just seemed a natural segue for her.In 1992 Malone served as treasurer, taking her newborn daughter, Lisa, with her to meetings where she would nap while the board strategized about different drug prevention techniques.
In 1993 she took over as president of the board, but it wasn’t much longer before she had to stop down out of the more demanding roles as she was in the process of raising a family and starting a business.
Malone remained within the organization, though, serving on several committees and volunteering her, and her businesses’ time, to help with some of the DFG events.
It’s only been in the last five years or so that Malone became heavily involved again in DFG.
“It was three years ago this summer that I got an email from a friend that informed me that Sharon was without an assistant,” said Malone. “As I was picking my son up from school one day I drove by the DrugFree Greenville office and saw Sharon’s car was there and decided to stop in.”
With a light summer schedule, Malone offered to help Kroncke with anything she needed and Kroncke’s reply was, “You’re hired!”
That led to Malone filling in for Kroncke’s assistant during the summer months.
“I did that for three summers and loved it,” said Malone. “I never thought it would lead to me taking over as executive director, though. I guess you just never know how things work out.”
Since the DrugFree Greenville board of directors approved Malone taking over for Kroncke in June, Malone has been shadowing Sharon intensively over the summer, learning all she can to prepare her for late August, when Kroncke officially retires from the organization.
“Training with Sharon has been great, but I often found myself feeling like that little cartoon character with the stars and birds circling over my head, just being overwhelmed with some of the information I had to absorb,” said Malone. “I’m nervous about taking over, but also very excited, too and optimistic.”
Malone knows she’ll get great support from the host of volunteers, board and committed members dedicated to DrugFree Greenville and this eases some of her nervousness. Plus, Kroncke is only a phone call away and plans on helping her through her transition.
“I am so pleased to be a part of this organization that the community has supported for the past 25 years,” said Malone who has no plans to change what has become known in Greenville as a successful drug prevention program. “I’m looking forward to 25 more.”