The United Way of Athens-Limestone County again honored volunteers and retired teachers as part of its annual Day of Caring luncheon.
The event, held at Central Church of Christ in Athens, featured a lunch catered by Steelcase employees and a medley of patriotic songs by Denver and Tina Betts. Birdie Thornton Center patron Theresa Chambers also read a poem she wrote about the city's bicentennial.
“Unless we're engaging in disaster response, we are the most united when we come together for a short time and concentrate on doing good projects with good people and make good things happen,” said United Way Executive Director Kaye Young McFarlen. “Now the challenge will be doing it every week.”
The annual luncheon is the culmination of the Week of Caring, a multiday event where groups and individuals team up to work on a variety of projects for nonprofit organizations. Some projects required physical labor while others required a replenishing of supplies.
McFarlen said she had not yet tallied up the volunteer hours from the week, but said the public would be pleased to know how many people donated their time this week. Some volunteers cleaned and pruned, while others were more creative. Students from Lindsay Lane Christian Academy are working on a mural across from Athens City Hall under the direction of Brigette Miller, a LLCA mom and amateur artist.
The following people received recognitions at Friday's event:
Community Volunteer of the Year
Denver Betts, who retired from Athens State University in 2011, was presented with the United Way's Community Volunteer of the Year Award. Betts is involved with a number of community organizations, including the Athens Rotary Club. He and his wife Tina are also active members of First Missionary Baptist Church, where he serves as a deacon and chairman of the board of trustees.
Hedy Lou Cannon was one of two retired Athens schoolteachers to be honored. The person who nominated her said the only thing better than having her as a second-grade teacher was having her again as a fifth-grade teacher.
“I remember running to meet my mother on the first day of fifth grade and yelling, 'Mom, I got Mrs. Cannon!' the nominee wrote.
Julie Prater, who taught mathematics at Athens High School, was also recognized. She was described as being intuitive in knowing her students and their needs.
“All she wanted to do was to give the tools to make the complicated things more simple, and make actions to be something to be valued,” the nominee wrote.
The three county schoolteachers — Pam Hasting White, Sandra Chafin and Amy Edge — were referred to as “The Magnificent Three” by McFarlen. All three taught at Ardmore High School.
The person who nominated White wrote, “She believed that you should teach to the highest learners of the class and the rest of class will move to that level. Expect high standards of learning and conduct and you will most likely get the expected results.”
Chafin's nominee wrote, “She was able to take students who felt they were incapable of being proficient in math classes and increase their confidence level immensely by teaching then how to succeed. She taught them to use process skills and logic. She worked to make sure that before the next step in math was introduced that everyone was ready to move to the next level.”
Of Edge, the nominee wrote, “Through her influence, some of her students are at the forefront of science discoveries today. She may have known she was sowing the seeds of knowledge that would bring discoveries to make our world better, but ultimately she just wanted those individuals' lives to be better … .”