Fayette Hero Spotlight

The winner has been announced!

We are proud to recognize a group selected for their hard work, sacrifice, and giving hearts while bringing stability to those who feel hopeless. The 2020 Fayette Hero Spotlight shines on the dedicated volunteers of the Real Life Center Food Pantry.

This has been a challenging year for many. But adversity tests the strength of a community and gives us opportunity to show resilience and character.

Such adversity sparked an idea in the hearts and minds of one local family. Jon and Kaye Snyder, owners of Southern Light Cinema, saw the headlines depicting the division of our nation and the many obstacles we face, and decided that they had the power to change the narrative.

Understanding the power of collaboration, Jon approached the Fayette Chamber of Commerce with an idea to seek out those people and organizations in this community who continue to give back. After working together to design the campaign, the Fayette Chamber and Southern Light Cinema embarked on a search for heroes, who work behind the scenes and with an uncommon dedication to helping others.

We asked the Fayette County community to tell us the stories of individuals and organizations who come together, helping to change the narrative of 2020, and demonstrating actions worthy of the name Hero. The responses were heartwarming, encouraging, and inspiring.

After collecting these stories, the Chamber brought together a panel of community volunteers to select one story they believed most deserved recognition of the Fayette Hero Spotlight. This year’s inaugural recipient was announced by Mr. Dan Cathy at the 2020 Fayette Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Breakfast on December 9.

We are proud to recognize a group selected for their hard work, sacrifice, and giving hearts while bringing stability to those who feel hopeless. The 2020 Fayette Hero Spotlight shines on the dedicated volunteers of the Real Life Center Food Pantry.

We congratulate the volunteers of the Real Life Center, and thank them for their tireless service.

The Chamber and Southern Light Cinema thank all those who helped make this project possible. Join us in 2021 as we continue telling stories of local heroes!

We give thanks to all the nominees who serve this community:

Fayette Senior Services Meals on Wheels Program
“The Meals on Wheels program has been a lifeline for many throughout this ongoing pandemic. The Fayette County Meals On Wheels program, organized by Fayette Senior Services, are delivered by a dedicated group of volunteers who provide not only a meal but a well check visit to clients participating in this program. These visits help to enable homebound seniors to continue to live independently in the comfort of their own home as they age. The ongoing pandemic has caused a surge in requests for MOW delivery, but Fayette Senior Services hasn’t let this slow their service down. They have risen to the challenge each time and recruited even more help to assure that everyone who has requested the service is receiving it. In 2020, more than ever, the elderly in our community need connections. Fayette Senior Services seeks to enhance and expand the connections of seniors to our community by providing a daily meal delivery and check-in visit while enhancing those connections through their Meals On Wheels program. They have been so fortunate to have a number of volunteers and staff stand up in bravery to continue to help during this time. It’s truly incredible to witness all these individuals come together as a team of heroes for so many.” – Nomination Excerpt

ClearWater Academy Teachers and Staff
“During a typical year, the teachers and staff at ClearWater Academy show love, hope, and determination to their exceptional special needs students and their families. The teachers and staff showed unflappable flexibility during the beginning of the outbreak and closing of schools. The teachers and staff worked hard to plan fun and educational activities that allowed the students to see friends, learn, and laugh. Also, they did this free of charge!! This meant so much to me and I know my son had a blast. It was also beneficial considering his special needs, because it allowed him to also make up important therapies he had missed (speech and occupational therapies). Because of the pandemic, he went without those vital in-person therapies for the longest period of time since he was diagnosed with autism. I’m so grateful of ClearWater Academy’s consideration of their students’ needs. Now that school has been back in session, I’ve been nothing but impressed with how the school has successfully implemented covid protocols and kept everyone safe. Having a consistent in-person place for my son to learn is absolutely necessary to his education. I have felt completely safe and comfortable sending him to ClearWater, and let me tell you, as a mother to a special needs child, this is HUGE. I am so deeply thankful for the teachers and staff at ClearWater Academy.” – Nomination Excerpt

Ms. Mirna Coeur, Azalea Estates
“Mirna Coeur has not stopped during this Pandemic. When Azalea Estates was in lockdown mode during the months of Feb.-Apr. we weren’t able to get items and personal products to our loved ones…Mirna Coeur was selflessly running errands and picking up prescription medications, personal items, and groceries for many of the residents due to the “Shelter in place” being in effect. She spends her days and nights making sure the residents are comfortable, content, and have what they need to make things easier. I have yet to hear any complaints from her. She is a “get it done” kind of person and makes it happen. She is truly an angel among us.” – Nomination Excerpt

Sweet Magnolia Wedding & Event Management
“Linda has shown a commitment to Fayette County not only by serving clients here throughout the pandemic, but by keeping talent local whenever possible … She appreciates working closely with the local businesses who are just as loyal to Fayette County, offer superior service, and are committed to all CDC guidelines … We need people like Linda who are committed to serving Fayette County residents in all seasons of life.” – Nomination Excerpt

Ms. Kathi Frankel, Bear With Me Atlanta
“Last year I met a remarkable lady, Kathi Frankel. Her daughter was on the tennis team with my son. Kathi and I started talking one day at a tennis tournament, and she told me about a refugee family she helps, and their needs…She never stops finding ways to create a better, deeper, more connected world. Humbly and selflessly.” – Nomination Excerpt

Fayette FACTOR
“Fayette Factor is an organization of action. It has been a non-stop force for good during this pandemic. Most notably, in my opinion, was the way Dawn Oparah and her team mobilized the community to provide over 3,100 meals for students after a Covid-related shut down of a Fayette County School System food distribution site. By bringing together churches, restaurants, monetary donors, and volunteers, Fayette Factor ensured that the children of Fayette County did not go without meals. This type of dedication deserves recognition and thanks. Fayette Factor shows resilience by being adaptive and responsive to the needs of the community, as with the example above. They continue to share information and resources for education, healthcare, civic engagement, and community development. Such resources include support groups, Covid testing times/locations, food pantry information, and town hall conversations about policing and race.” – Nomination Excerpt

Webb and Taylor 
“Webb and Taylor is a local law firm that prioritizes helping our community. When COVID first hit, Webb and Taylor donated $10,000 to a local food bank, the Georgia Division of Midwest Food Bank. Since, senior law partners Jim Webb and Brandon Taylor have created original ideas about helping the community, one person at a time. Currently, the firm gives free office space to their employee’s children so they are able to bring their children to work. Several Peachtree City elementary and middle school students have their own desk space, internet and everything they need to be set up for success. Terry Commander, attorney Scott Commander’s wife, works with Team Rubicon and has recently delivered hundreds of meals to locals in need. She has also hand-sewn masks for firm employees and their families. Since COVID, the firm has given their retired property manager a raise and met with individuals to make sure all of their needs are met. This month (September) the firm is sponsoring a large golf tournament, and all proceeds go to local Children’s Hospitals to support local children and their families during these unprecedented times. The firm also helps their clients by sending them extra couriers when necessary, doing everything they can to help others. The firm’s present focus is to make sure they provide as much support as possible to local citizens.” – Nomination Excerpt

Reverend Cliff Dawkins
“Reverend Cliff Dawkins has a congregation in southwest Atlanta where he serves a free meal every Saturday. He spends from his own paycheck to feed these 120 people who live in a food desert…he also conducts funerals for Fulton County families who cannot afford them, or people with no known family members. He is often the only person at funerals, and the last person to pay respect to the deceased. ” – Nomination Excerpt

Dr. Ruchir Agrawal
“Dr. Argawal has changed many people’s lives for the better…he isn’t just a physician, he cares and listens and is changing the lives of young people, not only in our city and state, but from across the world…. I can do things I could never even imagine doing before I met him and if I hadn’t met him.” – Nomination Excerpt