Paige Havens, left, who is the founder of Gwinnett’s Great Days of Service, receives the coveted The Barbara King Community Hero Award during a luncheon at Eastside Medical Center Thursday afternoon. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)
SNELLVILLE — On Oct. 4 and 5, more than 90,000 volunteers tackled approximately 500 projects around the county for the Gwinnett Coalition’s annual Great Days of Service event.
On Thursday morning, organizers thanked all of the sponsors who donated money, time and employees to the cause.
Before anyone took home an award, there were videos shown and testimonials given.
“I’m amazed at what a community can do,” Great Days founder Paige Havens said during one of the testimonials. “I have a saying on my mirror, ‘For every seed I’m given, I’ll sew.’ We’ve planted that seed and we have nurtured it.”
Gwinnett Great Days of Service is an annual event that promotes volunteerism across the county. It draws tens of thousands of volunteers each year to give back to their communities through community service projects and sponsorship.
“Isn’t it amazing how much we can get done when we get together as a community?,” said Greg Whitlock, the event’s chair and emcee for the luncheon.
The first round of awards went to all of the Great Days sponsors. Instead of receiving a certificate or plaque, the companies and businesses were given original submissions from elementary school children who participated in the T-shirt design contest.
This year’s Thomas James Corporate Service Award went to Sharon Bartels, the president of Gwinnett Technical College.
“A community can’t thrive without being healthy,” she said at the podium. “We believe our work make the community healthier and we’re a part of the solution.”
The next award was the coveted The Barbara King Community Hero Award. After anticipation, Great Days founder Havens found out she was the recipient — and she was completely shocked.
“There are no words to express this award. This one is extra special,” she said. “I will work hard to live up to this.”
Jennifer Hendrickson, a GDOS committee member, took home the Shining Star Award.
“From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you,” Ellen Gerstein, executive director of the coalition said after every one had been recognized.
For more information about GDOS, visit www.gwinnettgreatdaysofservice.org.