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CLINE: Cancer society volunteer likes working behind the scenes

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman<br> Bill Manson, left, has a laugh with Brenda Falkler after she was surprised with the Martha and John Adams award for the Volunteer of the Year during Tuesday's Gwinnett Leadership Council of the American Cancer Society's volunteer awards luncheon.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Bill Manson, left, has a laugh with Brenda Falkler after she was surprised with the Martha and John Adams award for the Volunteer of the Year during Tuesday's Gwinnett Leadership Council of the American Cancer Society's volunteer awards luncheon.

LAWRENCEVILLE

Brenda Falkler doesn’t like the spotlight. The American Cancer Society volunteer prefers to stay behind the scenes, doing the work that makes the organization’s many endeavors in Gwinnett County a success.

But all that effort — a “worker bee” mentality as one person described it — put Falkler in an uncomfortable position on Tuesday as she accepted the ACS Volunteer of the Year Award in front of a large group at Garden Plaza.

Previous winners

Previous winners of the Martha and John Adams Award for Volunteer of the Year for the American Cancer Society in Gwinnett:

2009 — Duane Downs

2008 — Mary Root

2007 — Becky Munteanu

2006 — Pat Swan

2005 — Grace Cain

2004 — Steve Howell

2003 — Sandra Pritchett

2002 — Elnor Melton

2001 — Lori Landis

2000 — Shirley Ksiazek

1999 — Alice Bowlden, Nancy Buckler

1998 — DiAnn Cox

1997 — Bob Baker

1996 — Elaine Still

1995 — Phylecia Wilson

1994 — Charlotte Gardner, Barbara Howard

1993 — Myrna Johnson

1992 — Martha Miller Adams

“I don’t deserve this,” the Lawrenceville resident said, crediting the large network of volunteers for making the ACS such a success in Gwinnett.

Falkler’s humble reaction didn’t surprise anyone who knows her. A selfless and tireless worker, Falkler has helped in everything from Relay for Life to the ACS’ annual gala to the Hope Fashion Show. Falkler has volunteered with the American Cancer Society since 1994, helping with anything and everything.

“She’s always available and she’s always willing to do whatever you ask,” said fellow volunteer Duane Downs, who received the Volunteer of the Year Award last year and presented the award to Falkler on Tuesday. “She’s always ready for anything.”

Falkler isn’t a committee chairman. Her personality is more reserved, and she enjoys getting in the middle of the fray and finding ways to make things work.

“I don’t like to be up front,” Falkler said. “I like to be in the background doing the work.”

Bill Manson, ACS executive director for the Gwinnett area, is new to the position but was formerly Falkler’s neighbor. When he took his new job he quickly learned what an impact Falkler makes on the organization.

“From the first time I met her, I knew what a worker she was,” Manson said. “She’s just tireless.”

Like most volunteers with ACS, Falkler has a personal reason that motivates her to help. She joined the organization after losing her mother — Attle Mundis — to brain cancer.

“I just needed a way to feel like I was giving something back after what everyone — the doctors, the nurses and the American Cancer Society — did for my mother,” she said.

That desire to give back was recognized with the Martha and John Adams Award, the ACS’ highest local honor. After recovering from the shock of the announcement, Falkler said she considers the ACS home.

“The staff is my second family,” she said. “They can’t get rid of me.”

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/toddcline.

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