Editor’s note: The Town of Waxhaw canceled this year’s parade in anticipation of winter weather.
WAXHAW – When Nicole Jordan was a child, the Waxhaw native hung out at work with her grandmother a lot.
Jordan went to all kinds of events around town, even playing tic tac toe with the police chief at the time. Jordan had that kind of access because her grandmother, Lola Blackburn, was mayor in the early 1980s.
Some years later, Jordan watched her grandmother ride downtown as the grand marshal at the annual Waxhaw Christmas Parade.
Things have now come full circle for Jordan as the Waxhaw businesswomen and community volunteer will be the grand marshal at the Waxhaw Christmas Parade on Dec. 9. The parade begins at 3 p.m.
Jordan wasn’t selected as grand marshal because of Blackburn, who passed away in 2006. But it was Blackburn’s service to her community that helped start Jordan on the path of being a community leader.
Jordan lives in her grandmother’s old home and owns Sweet Repeats Resale nearby. Jordan also founded Waxhaw’s Ray of Hope Community Outreach, which has helped thousands of people since 2014.
That is why the town selected Jordan to be the grand marshal.
“When we select someone to be grand marshal of the parade we look at their contributions to the community,” Waxhaw Events Manager Lisa Hoffman said. “Nicole Jordan is the one behind Waxhaw’s Ray of Hope and they have done a lot of things for the community. She is the first to step forward when someone has a tragic event in the community. She is the epitome what we consider fulfilling the town of Waxhaw’s mission that the unique character of Waxhaw is preserved and enhanced through responsibly serving residents, visitors and the business community with integrity and innovation.”
Jordan said she was surprised to find out that she had been selected as the grand marshal.
“I was very shocked. I was speechless,” Jordan said. “You don’t do charity work for recognition. We all do this and we all help these kids. It’s just not me. It does mean a lot because my grandmother was the grand marshal years ago. She loved Waxhaw.”
Blackburn was Waxhaw’s first female mayor after being elected in 1979. Jordan was 5 years old at the time. That was a year after Jordan’s father, Robert Wolfe, passed away unexpectedly.
“That is why I spent a lot of time with my grandmother,” Jordan said. “My mom had to work two jobs. I had two older brothers and mom had to start working immediately. We were very, very poor. It was a rough childhood in that sense.”
But Jordan got a lot of help along the way. People would provide free lunches and teachers would bring snacks while others provided hand-me-down clothes.
“That is how I grew up,” Jordan said.
After graduating from Parkwood High School and going off to college and living for a time in Monroe and South Carolina, Jordan returned home with her family. But more obstacles popped up in Jordan’s life.
“After I got divorced, my son had got sick and he was in the hospital for about three weeks,” Jordan said. “It came time for Christmas and he was worried that Santa would not find him in the hospital. I needed to find a Santa with a deep voice and I found a man named Roger Newland and he called my son and assured him that he would find him. They ended up sponsoring my son and my daughter that Christmas. He said he and his parents wanted to take care of them that Christmas. And they did.”
Jordan was working two jobs at the time and saved up money to pay Newland and his parents back for their generosity.
The Newlands would have none of that, however.
“He said, ‘No, I want you to pay it forward,’” Jordan said.
And that is what Jordan is doing in a big way with Waxhaw’s Ray of Hope Community Outreach.
Ray of Hope has grown from a very small undertaking into an organization that sponsors several major events each year, including events helping children and families at Easter, at Thanksgiving, during prom season and when it comes time to go back to school.
But the annual Christmas party, which is scheduled for Dec. 22, is the biggest event as the organization will provide a Merry Christmas for almost 120 children in the Waxhaw area. The first year about two dozen children were provided Christmas gifts.
“It has just snowballed,” Jordan said. “The reason I named it Waxhaw’s Ray of Hope Community Outreach is because it is the community helping each other. Over the past six years, we have had over 100 different volunteers for our events.’’
Citizens and local businesses help support the group’s events by sponsoring children, providing donations or providing monetary support.
“It’s the whole community coming together,” Jordan said. “All the kids are from Union County and a lot of them are from Waxhaw. We help families get on their feet. People in this community go out and buy these kids brand new jackets, brand new Nikes. We have a lot of organizations that have come together for the greater good.
“The Christmas party is huge. We give them all a hot meal, and that is the community coming in with all different food. Every kid gets a huge Santa sack full of toys. The kids get a free picture with Santa.”
Jordan bought Sweet Repeats six years ago but the Waxhaw resident has a few more irons in the fire.
“I have four or five jobs right now,” Jordan said with a laugh. “I am a wedding planner and I have a few other things but this is the main thing here.”
And Sweet Repeats is more than a money-making business as Jordan uses the store as another means of giving back to the community.
“Here at the store, if we have a family in need, I’m like, ‘Come in here and get whatever you need,’” Jordan said. “We have a food pantry back here. We have a closet that is free clothes for women. If someone needs clothes for an interview or for church, they can come in and it is 100 percent free. Those are donated by United Women for Change group and others.”
Jordan said she is looking forward to being the grand marshal of the parade since she will have her granddaughter, Kennedy, by her side in the car.
“I am nervous,” Jordan said. “My main worry is I don’t want people thinking I am doing this for the praise. When you give for the right reasons, you don’t need a pat on the back for it. It’s called a community outreach because it is all of us. We all help. So, I am going to have my granddaughter up there to try and draw some attention to her looking all cute.
“We are trying to teach people that you can make a difference, you can do something.”