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Gifted women
Four receive Legacy Awards for community contributions

LAWRENCEVILLE - Every year, the United Way Women's Legacy in Gwinnett recognizes women who have used their time, talent and treasure to better the Gwinnett community. These are this year's Legacy Award recipients.

Nancy Amestoy - Time

If you believe the saying "home is where the heart is," what does that mean for those who find themselves without homes?

Snellville resident Nancy Amestoy has opened her home to a number of people who, for many reasons, have found themselves without the stability and support of a home environment. From a car accident victim whose family could no longer care for him due to his injuries to children whose parents couldn't afford their care, Amestoy's home has been a place for many hearts to settle.

"We had more room in our house than we needed, and I'm most alive living in community with others," Amestoy said. "I think the Universe heard the message I was sending out, and people literally started knocking on my door asking if they could stay a while."

Home Happenings Inc., the nonprofit organization Amestoy started, is based on what she has done in her own home. The organization seeks to pair those in need of a home environment with those who are able to provide one so both can work together to build a place where they are needed and valued. Amestoy also organizes groups to build a community home outside of where people reside.

"I feel humbled and honored to be recognized as just one of the many people who offers whatever healing, comfort and joy I can to anyone and everyone who comes my way," Amestoy said of her recognition by the United Way Women's Legacy. "It's all of us common people living for the common good that's making a positive change in our world."

Laura Moore

- Talent

Through her work with medically fragile children as a pediatric nurse and clinical educator for 20 years, Laura Moore saw a need for more resources to assist families raising children with complex health issues. From Moore's awareness of that need, the Dream House for Medically Fragile Children was born.

The Dream House provides residential and foster care for children until a permanent family is found and prepares to care for them through its Family for Keeps program.

"Having had the opportunity to bring children home from the hospital to provide what the doctors label 'end of life care' and watch them not only survive but thrive, giving them not only life, but a home, a family and a future, is probably one of the greatest rewards my life could offer," Moore said.

The Dream House also offers courses to train family and care givers to care for medically fragile children, assists families in modifying their homes to care for their children and provides other agencies and government administrations with information on Georgia's medically fragile children.

"It is quite an honor to be named among Gwinnett County's most talented, philanthropic and successful women," Moore said. "I am very grateful for the recognition and hope that most will realize it is the precious children and families we serve who are the real heroes. They are the ones who demonstrate incredible courage, strength, stamina and faith to suffer through unimaginable situations and yet continue to live, love and care for others."

Sheila Stevens

- Treasure

What began as a small tennis tournament fundraiser has grown into three annual sporting events that have raised, to date, more than a million dollars for breast cancer research.

Sheila Stevens founded Volley for a Cure in 2001 in memory of her mother, Joan Glover, who died of breast cancer. That first tournament with 56 participants raised $22,000 to benefit a hospital breast cancer research fund. Today, Stevens' initial tournament - now called VolleyFest - is still being held, along with a golf tournament, SwingFest, and a 5K competitive or short 1-mile fun run, RunFest. The events fall under the umbrella of The Sport of Giving, which boasts 700 participants, 350 sponsors and more than 150 volunteers for

its events.

"The Legacy Award reflects that an idea inspired by the death of my mother eight years ago has achieved the highest level of recognition in our community," Stevens said. "This would not be possible without strong commitment and passion from many volunteers and sponsors who, like me, believe that our community deserves the very best breast health care."

Sharon Bartels

- Legacy

Sharon Bartels is a busy woman. As president of Gwinnett Technical College, her schedule is filled with meetings and other school-related business, but she still makes time to give back to the Gwinnett community. Bartels serves as co-chair of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's Partnership Gwinnett Initiative and is an executive committee member for the Chamber, a board member for Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful and a member of the Emory board of Visitors. Between those commitments, she is also active in her church.

Bartels previously served as chair of the Gwinnett Chamber and was a member of the United Way Board of Directors, chairing the organization's 2004 campaign.

"I can think of probably 20 other people who are definitely more deserving of this honor," Bartels said of the recognition she has received through the United Way Women's Legacy. "There are so many women in Gwinnett who do so much, so I'm really humbled. Whatever I've contributed is just a drop in the bucket."