The Rev. Nancy Yancey, CEO of Duluth-based Rainbow Village, accepted the D. Scott Hudgens Humanitarian Award before a sold out crowd of 1,000 business and community leaders at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s 64th annual dinner Feb. 3 at in Duluth. The award is named for the late Scott Hudgens, a respected Gwinnett County developer and philanthropist.
Founded 20 years ago, Rainbow Village provides transitional housing and support services to homeless families with children. Rainbow Village was recognized by he chamber as “the only program with a comprehensive approach addressing the full complement of physical, emotional, financial and educational needs of families who have suffered the trauma of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence.” The organization was credited with helping 750 individuals to become self-sufficient and achieving an 85 percent success rates among families that complete its program.
During Rainbow Village’s award presentation, Rev. Yancey was quoted as saying: “I’m constantly in awe of the amazing angels God sends to Rainbow Village to fulfill our mission and serve homeless families with children. Scott Hudgens was a great philanthropist, and we’ll always be grateful to him and his family for their faithfulness to us.”
Rainbow Village has benefited from two $500,000 donations from the Scott Hudgens Family Foundation that allowed it to purchase eight apartment units in Duluth and adjacent property for expansion. A Family Service Center and two 6-unit apartment buildings are scheduled for completion in April on Phase 1 of a new Duluth campus that will eventually allow Rainbow Village to triple the number of families it serves and consolidate facilities it operates in Duluth and Norcross.
Gwinnett Medical Center was the presenting sponsor for the dinner. Philip Wolfe of Duluth, GMC’s president and CEO, noted that GMC, which originated with the former Joan Glancy Hospital in Duluth, was 65 years old. “We’re ahead of you (the chamber) by one year,” Wolfe said. The hospital now has two campuses in Lawrenceville and Duluth. Gwinnett County’s first open-heart surgeries were performed last week in the new Strickland Heart Center at the Lawrenceville location.
The dinner celebrated the chamber’s accomplishments in 2011 and recognized individuals and organizations that made a difference in the community.
Jim Maran, president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber, presented the awards along with Outgoing Gwinnett Chamber Chair Terri Jondahl, incoming Chair Raymer Sele and others.
Public Service Awards were presented to Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson; L.C. Johnson; Bartow Morgan Jr., Brand Banking Company; Sean Murphy, Canvas Systems; Cathy Petty Nichols, Mobile Communications of Gwinnett; and Perry Tindol, Allgood Pest Solutions.
Mayor Johnson was recognized as “an advocate for a better future” and praised for attracting high-profile companies to Norcross and retaining RockTenn. He serves on the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Metro Atlanta Mayors Association, the Georgia Municipal Association, and the Gwinnett Municipal Association. Johnson chairs the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable, which developed a list of future transportation projects proposed to be funded by the TSPLOST one-cent transportation tax to be voted on in July 2012.
Philanthropists Clyde and Sandra Strickland of Lawrenceville, major benefactors of the Strickland Heart Center, were honored as Citizens of the Year. The Stricklands also support the HOPE Clinic and Rainbow Village. The couple recently donated $88,000 to the American Cancer Society to keep Gwinnett’s Relay for Life No. 1 in the world for the 10th straight year.
Clyde Strickland started Metro Waterproofing, a restoration and waterproofing company, in 1972 in Gwinnett County. In 40 years, it has grown from four to 240 employees.
The R. Wayne Shackelford Legacy Award was awarded posthumously to J.C. Caswell of Caswell Realty Co. and the Rev. William C. Corley of Lawrenceville First Baptist Church. Judy Waters, executive director of the Gwinnett Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia, gave a presentation honoring Caswell’s life. Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Johnson delivered a tribute to Rev. Corley.
Johnny Phelps of Harry Norman Realtors was recognized as the chamber’s Ambassador of the Year.
Jordan Humphrey of Suwanee, a senior at Lanier High School, sang the National Anthem.
Congressman Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, and Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle delivered brief remarks at the dinner. Duluth was represented at the dinner by Mayor Nancy Harris and Councilman Greg Whitlock.
Other officials randomly spotted by Patch in the crowd included Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash, Commissioner Shirley Lasseter, Commissioner Lynette Howard, Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Johnson, Lawrenceville Councilmen P.K. Martin and Tony Powell, and Lawrenceville Councilwoman Marie Beiser. Also in attendance were Gwinnett County Board of Education members Dr. Mary Kay Murphy and Louise Radloff.