Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Clyde and Sandra Strickland are perhaps Gwinnett County's most active philanthropists. The couple said all of their decisions are faith-based, and that they love "helping other people help themselves."
DULUTH -- As a Cub Scout leader in the 1970s, Sandra Strickland believed in doing things by the book.
So when the group of Cub Scouts she led entered a box car derby competition, Strickland stuck to her position that parents couldn't help. And while her cub scout den's entries left much to be desired, she was satisfied with the end result.
"We get down to the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, and it was the worst-looking batch of cars, our den, but I was proud of them," said Strickland, who was asked to lead because of a lack of volunteers. "You did your own, you're learning something together. It's not about winning the race, it's about doing the right thing."
Strickland, a well-known Gwinnett philanthropist, was honored alongside Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter and Georgia Gwinnett College President Daniel J. Kaufman on Tuesday night at the Gwinnett Center. All three were given the Scott Hudgens Distinguished Citizen Award at the American Values Dinner that benefits the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Porter, who said the town where he grew up, Satellite Beach, Fla., wasn't large enough to support a scout troop, called himself the most surprised person in the county to receive the news he was an honoree.
Porter said the size of Strickland's heart, and Kaufman's service to the country and county set them apart.
"If I stand for an American value," Porter said, "it's that hard work beats smart every time."
Porter began work in the Gwinnett County District Attorney's office in 1981 after he graduated from the University of Georgia law school. Porter's worked in several roles in the DA's office, including trial assistant, senior assistant district attorney and drug prosecutor. He was elected district attorney of Gwinnett County in 1992.
Kaufman was named charter president of GGC in 2005. He previously was a brigadier general in the U.S. Army, and served as Dean of the Academic Board and Chief Academic Officer at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1968.
Kaufman said he was a Boy sScout as young as 12 years old in Glynn County, and he appreciates that the Boy Scouts develop leaders of character.
"I'm a great supporter of what they do for scouting, particularly here in northeast Georgia, but also in general," Kaufman said. "It's not about you, it's about using your talents in the service of others."
Strickland and her husband Clyde are among Gwinnett's most active philanthropists in recent years. They've written substantial checks to the Gwinnett Medical Center, the Hope Clinic and Rainbow Village. They've also built Habitat for Humanity houses and supported three Gwinnett churches physically and financially.
Strickland said the values instilled by scouts, such as God, community and team work are needed now more than ever. Strickland said she told the third grade cub scouts she led that they should learn to be leaders and to help others.
"It's boys learning to become men," she said. "There's so much that a young man can do with their life."