RALEIGH — Martha Bryan Liles’ ties to Garner extend to her birth and her family’s connection to the community go back to the 1770s.
She is a lifelong resident of Garner and her ancestors were among the first settlers in the region. Her home place, the Rand-Bryan House, was built in 1871 and the property’s current 180-acre plot is part of a 3,000-acre grant from the King of England in the 1770s.
Liles is the 2013 winner of the annual James R. Stevens Service to Garner Award, which is given for exceptional and extended service to the Garner community. The award is named in honor of Stevens, a former Garner civic leader and town government official.
Liles’ involvement flows in several directions.
She was recovering from her own bout with cancer in 1998 and embraced the opportunity to do something to encourage others. She became a leader in Garner Relay for Life, an annual fundraiser and recognition service.
She was co-chair in 2000 and 2001 of the event and has been instrumental in the Garner United Methodist Church’s effort in Relay. She has helped the church raise more than $300,000.
“I wanted to do something,” Liles said. “My own cancer was fresh in my mind and I knew of so many friends and family who had suffered with cancer. This was something that I could do to not only raise money, but also give encouragement and support.”
She also has been an integral part of the Garner Educational Foundation, which has supported schools and students since the 1980s.
Liles has served on various committees and projects and currently coordinates the Schools and Community Organized to Read (SCOR) program.
The program takes community leaders and places them in second-grade classrooms to help students with reading.
The 30-minute sessions are held every week and the community leaders work with the students on their reading skills.
“The volunteers let the students read to them on a one-on-one basis,” Liles said. “The student gets some extra reading and gets a lot of personal time. It does wonders for the kids and our volunteers say they get a lot out of it, too.”
Liles remains active at the Methodist church and has worked there part time in recent years.
She not only is involved with Relay but also helps in the church’s outreach to Creech Road Elementary and the church’s collaboration with town and Garner Chamber of Commerce officials on various projects, including the annual massive Garner Expo.
The luncheon honoring Liles will be held Saturday, Sept. 14 at noon at Aversboro Road Baptist Church. Tickets are available at the Garner Chamber of Commerce or by calling 919-772-6440.