The ceremony was held last Saturday to recognize individuals who have contributed to building community through service to others.
Many of the honorees operate under the radar. We do not see their photos in the paper, or hear about their generosity, yet, every one — in their own way — has the courage to care and commitment to act with compassion to make a difference in this corner of the world. And that’s what makes Carroll County the community it is.
The letters of nomination revealed some common themes that speak volumes about this special group. They care not only for others, but about others. Many of us care for others by contributing time and resources to community charities, yet never really connect with the people being served. These honorees care about others — one person, one family, one group at a time. They are in the trenches so to speak with people who need a helping hand, a boost, and an encouraging word. They are champions of others.
A second characteristic of this group is that they put their signature strengths and gifts to use. It would take more space than allotted to list their many gifts, but here are a few that were acknowledged in the nomination letters:
1) Deborah Brown persevered and continued to serve others as she fought her own terminal diagnosis of cancer with honor and grace for six years. She demonstrated that life is to be lived abundantly and in service regardless of circumstances.
2) Johnnie Huey’s diligence helped him receive his GED, engage in meaningful work, and learn skills to fix anything for anybody. His hands-on service is evidenced throughout his community. Additionally, his gift of supporting others results in a scholarship he and his wife contributes to UWG.
3) Sheriff Terry Langley’s gift of leadership provides our community with safety and security. Additionally, he makes himself available to anyone who needs his attention, insights or encouragement. He demonstrates integrity and honor in all aspects of service.
4) Sandra Morris has secured an amazing amount of grant money for the people of Carroll County. And she brings her gifts of laughter, energy and hope to people who often are forgotten — especially our seniors.
5) Anne Richards continues to encourage and support former student long after their college days come to an end. Her gift of quiet compassion is deeply appreciated by those she transports to medical appointments or visits during illnesses and times of need.
6) Many people have visions, but very few act on theirs in the manner that Roy Richards did. His gift of entrepreneurship not only turned on the lights in rural Georgia, but his innovations provide electricity to Third World countries. His business acumen created thousands of job opportunities in our community.
7) Wayne Shelton is a truck driver by trade, but uses his gift of hospitality as he houses and feeds the homeless and poor at The Inn at Fullerville. He envisioned and gave life to an organization that feeds hundreds of people on a daily basis with home-cooked meals.
8) Charles Thomas has the unique gift of accepting and encouraging people regardless of race, circumstances, religion or background through his ministry at Victory Tabernacle. Additionally he literally shares his hands and back as he labors alongside those in need of home construction and maintenance.
9) Mary Florence Word not only embraced the gift of teaching, she held her seventh grade students to higher standards which she helped them achieve. Her gift of fairness made every child feel as if they were special — as indeed they were.
The third thread that creates the richness of this group is that they practice conscious acts of kindness. And that is a gift that gives back. According to research, people who commit to five acts of conscious kindness a day report a higher level of sustained happiness than those who don’t and that happiness fuels the spirit of service to others.
Each of those listed above will become a part of the permanent archives at the Carroll County Historical Society. Their letters of nomination along with photographs and biographies provide a legacy of giving to current and future generations.
To paraphrase Bob Danzig, “We all take advantage of the support, the structure, friends and fiber of our community. I believe that all of us have the opportunity to leave some kind of impact — some indelible imprint — that makes the community somewhat better because we’ve passed through it.”
Congratulations and gratitude to these individuals who leave an indelible imprint on this community by making a difference.
Garrett, a Carroll County resident, writes a weekly column for the Times-Georgian.