By Kim West
More than 100 people turned out for Thursday’s annual United Way Day of Caring at the First Baptist Church Life Center.
The two-hour luncheon honored six retired educators from the Athens and Limestone school systems after they were selected through community recommendations.
Former students and peers described Evelyn Harrison, Barbara Harrison, Floyd Johnson Sr., Dan Havely, Carolyn Crow and Elizabeth Brett as everything from friends and encouragers to role models and “exceptional educators” that led by example and cared about their communities.
Four of the six — Evelyn Harrison and her niece Barbara, Havely and Crow — attended the surprise awards ceremony held at the close of the luncheon. Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson accepted the award for his father, who has cancer, while Jack Greenhaw accepted the one for Brett, who could not attend.
Greenhaw, a retired educator and the keynote speaker, said inspiring students that did not want to let down their mentors is “the secret of being a great teacher.”
Kaye Young McFarlen, executive director of the United Way of Athens-Limestone County, said the Day of Caring is a culmination of the Week of Caring volunteer initiative. She said United Way volunteers, who are easily recognizable in their gray “Live United” T-shirts, came together to perform service projects in their local schools and communities.
“Day of Caring is a day set aside to help different people in the community,” said McFarlen.
ALC United Way board chairwoman Annette Barnes was taught by both Havely and Crow. She said teachers help people discover their “talents and abilities and realize their full potential.”
She said the service shown by local volunteers is a key factor to the area’s quality of life. The local United Way agency funds 33 programs.
“It’s these thousands of acts of kindness that make Athens and Limestone County what I think is one of the most wonderful places on Earth to live,” Barnes said.