“My Brother’s Keeper”
By JOHN DOWNS, SR
Taylor Grissom takes the concept of being his brother’s keeper very seriously. “It really should be the standard that we all live by,” the successful local businessman believes, “There is so much need in the world, and I believe there is no greater calling than to try to make a difference in a person’s life.”
It was during a mission trip for his River Oak Church to the island nation of Haiti that Grissom decided to make a difference in the lives of the Haitian people, specifically its children. “I had the privilege of meeting a very special lady in Haiti,” he recalls, “Her name is Carmel Wagnac and she runs a charity there that provides hot meals to children in three of the island’s poorest provinces. The nonprofit charity is called Nelly’s House. Mrs. Wagnac told me that her grandmother was named Nelly and used to feed as many poor children as possible out of the kitchen of her own home. Carmel is continuing that tradition today but on a much larger scale. She currently provides more than 4,000 hot meals a week. The need is so great there. Looking at the hungry children pulled at my heart strings. I saw a child divide his meal in half because he had a younger sibling at home who was hungry. I knew then that there was no way I could come back home and not help.”
Grissom began to make the rounds of his business associates and friends in the Chesapeake community with a unique idea to raise funds for Nelly’s House. His idea came to fruition on September 14th when the 1st annual Chesapeake Christian Music Festival presented a concert featuring a line-up of some of Christian music’s most popular contemporary artists including the headlining group, NewSong. “I had a great team supporting me,” Grissom declares in his usual self-effacing manner, “The credit for the festival’s success should go to the volunteers, organizations, and members of the business community who gave so much of their time, talent, and funds. Their generosity truly overwhelms me. Chesapeake is a blessed community with so many caring people. Nearly 4,000 people came out to support us. It was truly a spirit filled night.”
The Christian Music Festival is one of the many ways that Taylor Grissom has worked for the benefit of others. “I’m a great believer in mentoring,” he explains, “One of my most trusted and respected mentors is Pastor Jack Gaines of the Body of Christ Community Church in Suffolk where another good friend, Pastor Stephen Josie is chief pastor. Jack’s friendship and encouragement means so much to me.”
Grissom learned about mentoring in high school. He was an outstanding athlete in high school. “I graduated from Great Bridge High School in 1983 and played football and baseball,” he remembers fondly. “I had a number of great coaches and teachers who were my mentors then. I decided to pay back all the good people who took an interest in me as a youth. After college, I volunteered to help coach the Great Bridge High School baseball team.”
That offer turned into a fifteen year commitment, and Grissom saw his teams win a slew of district and regional titles and also brought two state titles home to Chesapeake. “These young men learned the fundamentals of baseball,” Grissom says, “But so many of them needed guidance in all aspects of their lives. I think that’s the real reason the Lord put me there. It wasn’t just to coach baseball.” Grissom coached major league baseball standout Mike Cuddyer of the Colorado Rockies. Cuddyer is currently the league’s leading hitter and a member of major league baseball’s All Star team. “He’s a fine young man,” Grissom adds.
After high school, Grissom graduated from Virginia Wesleyan in 1987 with a Business Administration degree. “I had so many good people bring me along in the business community,” Grissom acknowledges, “They taught me so much and gave me so many opportunities.” Today, Grissom is owner of Blue Water Pools and also Davenport Management, a land developing company. He was the founder of Monarch Bank and currently sits on its Board of Directors. “Monarch Bank is truly Chesapeake’s community bank. It is very involved in a number of community and charitable activities.”
He is also one of the founding fathers of Chesapeake’s fastest growing church communities, River Oak Church. “I was one of the first Sunday School teachers there.” Grissom adds with pride.
Chesapeake Sheriff Jim O’Sullivan has worked with Grissom on a number of community service projects. “Taylor Grissom is truly one of Chesapeake’s unsung heroes,” O’Sullivan said. “He personifies the motto of service above self. Not only is he an extremely modest person, he is also a man of strong faith. Our great city of Chesapeake is indeed fortunate to have a person like Taylor Grissom. I am so glad he is being honored as Citizen of the Month.”
Taylor Grissom and his wife of 24 years, Kerry, have three children: son Preston, 20, and daughters Emilee, 18, and Payton, 15. Taylor and Kerry enjoy pleasant evenings with their children and fellowship within their circle of close friends. They are also involved as a family in JT’s Walk for a Cure, a charity which benefits victims of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Sometimes the words ‘Christian’ and ‘religious’ don’t always accurately portray my spiritual commitment,” Grissom says. “Jesus Christ is my leader, and I have chosen to be His follower, plain and simple. He gave us two very plainly spoken commandments: Love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself.”
When asked about the success of the first Chesapeake Christian Music Festival, Grissom breaks into a big grin. “We’re already planning it for next year!”
For Taylor Grissom’s outstanding dedication and caring for those less fortunate and in need, The Citizen of Chesapeake is proud to name him as our Citizen of the Month.
Tax deductible donations are needed badly for Nelly’s House. Checks should be made payable to:
c/o 442 Battlefield Boulevard South
Chesapeake, VA 23322
Credit card donations are also gratefully accepted
Please call (757) 620-0561