Bankplus VP lives to “Just give back”
By John Luke McCord
If you live in the Tupelo, Mississippi area, there’s a good chance you’ve crossed paths with, or at least seen Benjamin Ashford, or Chip as most people know him. After all, he wears many hats in the community – Vice President, educator, board member, mentor, friend and even coach. Yeah, it’s not easy to miss Mr. Ashford around town.
“Just give back,” Ashford said when asked what advice he would give others about life. “Whatever it may be, we all have a special talent. We can always give back to somebody, in some way. My Mother has always taught me ‘there’s alway someone that is less fortunate than you, no matter how much you have or don’t have.’”
Currently, Ashford is a Vice President at BankPlus, where he has been for just over a year. Day-to-day he works with people who are seeking personal loans.
“Being able to interact with customers and try to help them reach whatever dream or potential they may have financially,” is what Ashford says he most enjoys about his job.
Though he loves his job today, he never imagined he would end up in banking. In fact, he started in sales at an appliance store where he worked for a decade. Then he moved on to a finance company where he stayed another four years before “oddly,” getting an opportunity to apply at BancorpSouth. He stayed there for 14 years before coming to where he is now.
In addition to day-to-day duties, he also teaches a course, once per month, to people who are seeking to repair, rebuild or improve their credit. Upon graduation of this course, he awards a certificate that is good for a small loan at the bank.
That’s hardly the brunt of his duties, however, as he also serves and has served on various boards. For “several years” he served on the Lions Club board. Presently, he serves as a member of the Link Centre and The Boys and Girls Club boards
“The Boys and Girls Club, which I’ve been on since day one in the banking industry, is probably the one I enjoy kind of the most. I know it’s a corny saying, but children are our future.” Ashford says.
Recently Ashford participated in a local event, “Cooking Like the Stars.” In the past he’s been part of events such as “Dancing Like Stars.” These are ways he plays his part to help The Boys and Girls Club attain the proper funding.
For the past 15 years he has even coached girl’s travel basketball, something he says he got into when his daughter began playing in Oxford. It was something he couldn’t get away from, and like other areas of his life, he’s found a way to impact many young women. Mississippi State star player, Victoria Vivians, played with Ashford’s travel club for a few summers.
“We have a good pipeline to colleges. If you come here and put the work in we can get you junior college scholarship,” He explained.
Though he is always seeking to help and support others, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know who supports him.
“I’m gone quite a bit. A meeting here, or basketball there,” Ashford stated. “Or I’ve got to go somewhere to represent the bank. I’m out of the house quite a bit. I have a great and understanding wife to allow me to participate in all this.”
In any way or any play, no matter who it may be, Ashford just enjoys helping others and giving to them in any way he is able. For anyone, he is willing to “lend an ear” as he says.
“Whatever they may need to hear. I don’t have a script for when I talk to people, but I always tell anyone to be happy with what you have and to give back,” He said.
Perhaps it is his roots for which compel Ashford to be so generous and giving. A native of Ripley, Mississippi, he recalls the entire community having a hand in his raising. After graduating high school, he attended Northeast Mississippi Community College and then Mississippi State University. He moved from Starkville to Tupelo after his graduation, “some 30 odd years ago,” because it is where his then girlfriend, now wife, Carolyn, lived.
“Tupelo is my home, without a doubt,” Ashford said.