Banker honored for years of generosity

DULUTH - Jim Pack began his banking days in Gwinnett County in the early 1960s. He admits he didn't know much about the trade when he started, but over the years Pack learned and opened his own bank, became a successful philanthropist and a valuable part of the community.

Tuesday night, Pack was presented with the foundation's Award for Community Leadership and Philanthropy by the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia at the organization's "Evening of Appreciation" at the Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth.

The Gwinnett-based foundation is committed to making it possible for individuals, businesses and others to give or request funds to support nonprofit organizations throughout northeast Georgia.

"It's special because it comes from friends," Pack said. "There are other folks that are far more deserving than me, but I'm thankful for the recognition."

In addition to recognizing Pack for his accomplishments in the community, nearly 150 people packed a dimly lit room at the arts center to watch as foundation members awarded grants to numerous nonprofit organizations.

Beverly Estafen, the foundation's director of finance, said this year's grants totaled more than $100,000.

Estafen said the foundation had been accepting applications from local nonprofits since January, creating a batch of well-deserving organizations asking for consideration this year.

"We receive grant applications and focus on who we want to give the money to," Estafen said. "Right now our focus is to help the elderly, children and youth."

The funds were awarded to organizations such as the Barrow Winder YMCA and the Gwinnett Philharmonic Orchestra to use for projects such as child music education and summer day camps for underprivileged children.

"We take this process very seriously," foundation grants chair Julie Keeton Arnold said of the awards process. "And we pick what we think will help the community the most."

Judy Waters, the foundation's executive director, said the weeknight event was to announce the awarded grants and to recognize the donors that make the foundation's work possible.

"Our donors have made such a difference in our community," Waters said. "We couldn't do it without them."

Grant recipients:

• Gwinnett Children's Shelter $50,000 (over two years)

• Gwinnett Technical College Foundation $25,000

• Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Inc. $20,000

• Gwinnett SeniorNet Learning Center $15,000

• Atlanta Legal Aid Society $12,000

• Gwinnett Environmental and Historical Society $25,000

• Gwinnett Rockdale Newton Community Service Board $25,000

• Hi-Hope Service Center $1,500

• Creative Enterprises, Inc. $1,500

• YMCA Winder-Barrow $1,500

• Lilburn Cooperative $3,000

• Gwinnett Philharmonic Orchestra $5,000

• Latin American Services Association $10,000

• Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau $2,400

• Peace Place Inc. $3,000