Editors Note: South Georgia Today is pleased to present this limited run series, Hahira’s Working Women. This series will focus on the amazing women who own or manage a business in Hahira, or hold a position of leadership within this small community. These articles will run twice a week until all of these amazing women have told their stories. You won’t want to miss a single one of these stories.
At Commercial Banking Company, Marie Benefield sits at her desk with a smile. Born and raised in the Hahira community, she remembers going to the market with her grandmother and playing with her friends. As a Hahira Honey Bee baby, Marie is one of many who had the privilege of growing up with the Hahira Honey Bee Festival. Born in 1981, she and others born that year are known as “honey bee babies” because they were born the same year Hahira held its first festival. “I’m proud to be a Honey Bee baby.” she says.
The love she has for her community is quite apparent as she talks about how she has watched Hahira grow over the past few years and she’s glad she has been able to be a part of that growth. As Assistant Vice President and manager of the Commercial Banking Company in Hahira, she is able to help members of the community accomplish their financial goals. She helps customers purchase their first homes or start new businesses, which boosts Hahira’s economic development. Marie said, “I’m proud to be a part of the Hahira community and I want to see it continue to grow.”
Marie has seen many changes in Hahira over the years, but what has never wavered is its hometown spirit. “Everyone knows one another. You walk or drive by and everyone waves to you,” she says. That is what endears her to the community. That’s one of the things Marie found so pleasing when she started her career as a receptionist at the bank. Those same people that she waved to or had grown up with were now her customers.
When Marie started looking for a job after high school, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do. A friend helped her get the job at Commercial Banking Company as a receptionist and she quickly moved up to teller. It didn’t take her long to realize that she loved what she was doing. It allowed her to interact with customers and meet new people. Her constant smile and cheerful personality made her popular with everyone who entered the bank. It didn’t take long for her to start moving up the ranks.
After being in the banking for 17 years, she was given the opportunity to move to the Hahira location and assume the branch’s manager position when it came open. She jumped at the opportunity. Not only could she do the job she loves, she could do it in her hometown and support her hometown community. “The people at the bank are like my family,” Marie says. “I get to do my job as well as take care of my family at home.” Marie and her staff enjoy working together and sharing their families with one another. While she doesn’t get to interact with customers as much as before, she makes it a point to talk to many of them as possible.
When Marie’s not at work, she spends time with her daughters at their softball games. With one in high school and the other in middle school, they keep her busy. Her oldest daughter, Lacie plays high school softball, while her younger daughter, Hallie plays on a travel softball league. Marie and her husband Jesse love to watch their daughters play and is proud of the fact that she is able to be at almost all of their games.
As a Hahira native, Marie Benefield stands out as someone who loves her community and wants the best for all of its residents. She always has a smile and is more than willing to lend a helping hand. Visit Hahira during the Honey Bee Festival and you will more than likely see Marie doing something to support the event. Whether it’s cooking hot dogs or just talking to the people who stop by the bank, she’s proof that life is good for a honey bee baby that has come full circle.
See our announcement of Marie’s promotion to Hahira Branch Manager here.