SGTC’s Raven Payne and Charles Christmas spotlighted in Spring 2019 Sumter County Living magazine

February 20, 2019
Cover of the Spring 2019 Sumter County Living Magazine with South Georgia Technical College English Instructor Raven Payne featured.
Cover of the Spring 2019 Sumter County Living Magazine with South Georgia Technical College English Instructor Raven Payne featured.

“Servicing the Community” was the headline for the story and the feature photo on the front cover of the Spring 2019 Sumter County Living magazine with South Georgia Technical College English Instructor Raven Payne as the featured story. Payne, along another SGTC instructor, Charles Christmas and his wife Kim, were also featured on the front cover and inside the magazine.

   Rachel Price penned the story about Raven Payne titled, “Servicing the Community,” and local photographer David Parks provided the striking photos. Kate DeLoach wrote the article about Charles and Kim Christmas with the appropriate heading of “Christmas Time.” David Parks also provided the images for that article.

   “Americus young professional, Raven Payne, is leading the way by bridging the gap for those that are transitioning into becoming the next leaders of the community,” wrote Rachel Price, who added, “There’s a saying … ‘the past is your lesson, the present is your gift, and the future is your motivation.’ I’ve never met anyone that personifies this more than Raven Payne.”

   Payne is a native of Americus and the founder of the Twenty40 Young Professionals Group in Americus and Sumter County. The group of young professionals, ages 25 – 45, network and socialize to continue to increase the professional and leadership skills of young professionals in the community while helping it thrive.

   “As a young professional born and raised in Americus and currently building my professional trajectory in the community, I found myself yearning for a positive outlet where I could share and discuss my concerns, desires, and interests with other like-minded individuals,” said Payne. “I wanted a space for us to find ways to use our voices, talents, and influences to be agents of change for our community.”

   Raven Payne believes “our greatest gift is to always be a blessing to someone else.” She attempts to embody that belief through her work in the community and with the students in her classroom at South Georgia Technical College. “I always thought when it’s my time, I want to make sure I step up,” recalls Payne. “Life is about giving back. I love that my Twenty40 leadership team is always on board to give of themselves too.”

   When Payne realized that her roots were going to remain in Americus, she pondered two questions. “How can young professionals contribute to Americus and its growth and how can our community stop dividing itself when we, the citizens all want the same things?” Raven’s response to those questions were, “we desire to be with like-minded individuals, to give back, and to bring a thriving downtown life to this city we love. Social media can drive some things, but gathering together and networking produces results.” That was the impetus to the Twenty40 Young Professionals group.

   “No matter where you are planted, no one is incapable of being successful. Be proactive. We all make mistakes; we all have shortcomings. Regardless of setbacks, you can’t just sit and be pessimistic. If it is ever laid on you, in your dreams or your heart … there are so many resources we have in this community that can assist you and help you to grow. People are our greatest resources. Connect,” said Payne.

   South Georgia Tech’s Payne was featured on the front cover and in an article on page 76 of the magazine but another South Georgia Technical College instructor Charles Christmas also was headlined on the front cover and on page 10 in the article labeled, “Christmas Time.”

   Charles Christmas and his wife, Kim, talked with Kate DeLoach and outlined how they came to the Americus community and bought an older home, “The Bell House,” that was actually built in 1906 by an ancestor of theirs. With a name like “Christmas,” it was appropriate for the article to be labeled “Christmas Time.”

   The dynamic duo moved from Tampa, Florida, to Americus in 2013 and have been working ever since to improve infrastructure, education and community pride in their adopted hometown. Charles is an Aviation Maintenance and Avionics Instructor at South Georgia Technical College and Kim is the Vice President of Human Resources at Pharmacentra and Concentra Solutions in Americus.

   Charles holds a teaching position that was held by Kim’s brother, Sam Singletary. Sam vacated the position for a tour in Iraq. He has since passed away and an endowed scholarship to help Aviation students has been set up in his memory with the South Georgia Technical College Foundation.

   The article centers around the older home they purchased and restored but it also talks about their dedication to the community. “I’m a big city guy,” said Charles. “So Kim made me come stay here for two weeks over my vacation to see if I could live in a small town. I met with a lot of folks and learned a lot about the community.” Apparently impressed, he was on board with the move, wrote Kate DeLoach in the article.

   “Our relationship is like a business,” joked Charles because of the busy schedule the couple keeps through numerous volunteer positions in addition to demanding careers. Charles was elected to the Americus City Council last year and Kim is president-elect of the Sumter Historic Trust as well as active in the local Chamber of Commerce.

   The Christmases have no children, but lots of godchildren. “We’re a recruiting tool for the local schools,” jokes Kim. When their “kids” come to visit, they often stay and go to college in Americus. Charles described his work at South Georgia Technical College using a quote from Mike Row of Dirty Jobs and SkillsUSA. “If you go through the aviation program at SGTC, you’re going to get a good job and have a long-term career. I like using the quote from Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs and SkillsUSA, ‘Don’t follow your passion; but follow your opportunities and turn them into passions.’”

    The Christmas’ came to Americus and bought a house that they thought was too big and too much of a project, two perfect-for-them jobs were laid in their laps, and the community has welcomed them and cherished their volunteer contributions. “We always ask ourselves, ‘Why are we here?’” Charles muses. “It could be any number of things.” Kismet.

   Both articles and more are included in the Spring 2019 issue of Sumter County Living magazine along with an ad about South Georgia Technical College on page 120. The entire magazine is online and can be viewed at:

South Georgia Technical College aviation maintenance and avionics instructor Charles Christmas and his wife, Kim, are also featured in the magazine.
South Georgia Technical College aviation maintenance and avionics instructor Charles Christmas and his wife, Kim, are also featured in the magazine.