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Hands that help
Ceremony recognizes volunteers
Nicole McCoy, Community Connection executive director, presents the Volunteer of the Year Award to Deborah Hudson. - photo by Jennifer Sami
Honorees at a glance

Celebration of Hands awards recipients

• Volunteer of the Year: Deborah Hudson
• Youth Volunteer of the Year: Allie Storey
• Civic Club of the Year: Junior Service League of Forsyth County
• School Club of the Year: Forsyth Central High School’s International Club
• Small Business of the Year: Lenny’s Sub Shop (owner, Bruce Longmore)
• Corporate Business of the Year: Keller Williams
Community Partners Celebrated Volunteers

• Erik Puckett, Children’s Center for Hope & Healing
• Mary Ann Milton, Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia
• Diane Van Parys, Mentor Me North Georgia
• Ted Brooke, Sawnee Mountain Preserve
• Peter Trione, Supporting Adoption Foster Families Together, or SAFFT
• Gordon and Helen Benson, Jesse’s House
• Annette Metz, Habitat for Humanity
• Ruth Holbrook, Cumming Playhouse
• Torri Westmoreland, Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce
• Anita Ask, Children’s Advocacy Center
• Mary Weil, Bald Ridge Boys Lodge
• Antonia Flowers, Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA
• Lyle Schroeder, Forsyth County Senior Center
• Jennifer Dugan, Forsyth County Library

Source: Forsyth County Community Connection
Those in the volunteer community gave a hand Monday to those who lend theirs.

Hands on Forsyth honored the county’s most loyal volunteers during the 2010 Celebration of Hands.

The event recognized the county’s most reliable and hardest working volunteers, like Volunteer of the Year Deborah Hudson and Youth Volunteer of the Year Allie Storey.

The event was held by Forsyth County Community Connection, which works with nonprofits in the community and volunteers to facilitate projects and serve the county’s needs.

“They have over 6,000 volunteers in Cumming and Forsyth County, and with that 6,000 volunteers, collectively, if you paid them the minimum wage, that’s over a quarter of a million dollars of money that we save on projects and jobs,” said Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, prior to the awards ceremony.

“If it weren’t for the volunteerism, we wouldn’t have a lot of the things that we have.”

Volunteers were treated to dinner at Tam’s Backstage before the ceremony, which was held upstairs at the Cumming Playhouse.

Incoming Community Connection board president Virgilio Perez Pascoe thanked the volunteers and past president for coming so far.

“We have lived up to our name,” he said. “We are building a community, especially by connecting folks.

“But I tell you what, we still need to strengthen those connections ... we need to reach critical mass.”

Nicole McCoy, executive director of Community Connection, presented awards to the top civic and school clubs, corporate and small businesses, and volunteer and youth volunteers of the year. 

McCoy said later that the annual event was a chance to celebrate part of what makes Forsyth a great place to live.

“It’s the one chance where we really have the opportunity to talk about all of the positive things that are happening in our community,” she said.

This year’s event featured a new highlight, said Kerry Rosewall, organization volunteer coordinator.

In addition to recognizing Community Connection volunteers, the organization also honored top volunteers from several of its partner agencies,
including Jesse’s House, Mentor Me North Georgia, Habitat for Humanity and the Bald Ridge Boys Lodge.

Rosewall said the additional awards would probably become a permanent part of the annual event.

“I love how it brought so many nonprofits together,” she said. “We work with them throughout the year in different things, but we haven’t had everyone — so many nonprofits together in one place.

“Honoring those volunteers was really great. It really is what we’re all about.”