First Lady Sandra Deal and the Georgia Children’s Cabinet announced today the 2015 winners of the First Lady’s Servant’s Heart Award, recognizing outstanding selflessness and leadership in support of others.
“For me, serving others is not really a matter of choice if I truly want to uphold my faith and those duties the people of Georgia have entrusted me with,” said First Lady Sandra Deal. “This is why I selected ‘With a Servant’s Heart’ as my platform back in 2011 and why I helped form the Georgia Children’s Cabinet, and I am proud to recognize some of the individuals playing a key role in caring for our children and our families.”
The Georgia Children’s Cabinet has declared February as “Service and Volunteerism Month,” and these two awards further promote the importance of service by celebrating those who have taken up the torch in their respective communities.
After receiving nominations from county commissioners across the state, Mrs. Deal selected Powell Catherine Fennell from Bulloch County as the winner for the youth category. Additionally this year Mrs. Deal created an additional category this year to recognize employees in state agencies that serve children who apply the ideals of the “Servant’s Heart Award” in their daily lives. Each agency head was responsible for presenting to the Cabinet one exemplary candidate. From the pool of nominees for this category, Deal chose Lisa Dawson from the Georgia Department of Public Health as the winner.
Youth Category: Powell Catherine Fennell, Bulloch County
As a future leader, Powell Catherine Fennell has demonstrated a desire to serve that will continue into adulthood, representing Georgia well both inside and outside of this state. As a member of First Baptist Church of Statesboro, Fennell has traveled to New York City to help serve food to underprivileged elderly; Birmingham, Alabama, to pick up litter lining the city’s streets; Sydney, British Colombia, to provide comfort to those in need; and, Hollywood, South Carolina, to spend quality time with children in need of love and affection.
At home in Bulloch County, Fennell founded and heads the organization “Serving Statesboro,” which addresses issues surrounding her community. It has grown to include more than ten charities and service projects and over 200 volunteers. Among other things, this organization helps build ramps to improve wheelchair access, tends to the yards of elderly Georgians and hosts an annual “Fun Day” for children living in low-income apartment complexes.
State Employee Category: Lisa Dawson, Georgia Department of Public Health
Lisa Dawson of the Georgia Department of Public Health embodies the heart of this award. She regularly surpasses the normal forty-hour work week in order to extend her reach to the community and has helped implement a number of policies that have improved environmental and educational standards in Georgia. For example, she supported DECAL’s Safe to Sleep policy revision, informed DFCS policy on home water temperature, raised awareness about the dangers of children in hot cars, and even spent her own Saturdays working with Safe Kids Georgia to help families understand the importance of car-seat safety.
In addition to her professional endeavors to aid children and families, Lisa also serves as her oldest daughter’s “Girls on the Run” parent coach and actively seeks opportunities to serve others through her church. A family in her congregation recently suffered a devastating loss, so Lisa organized a Facebook group to clean the family’s home, assist in transportation of their children and anticipate any other needs they might have.
“Like I stated before, we are proud of all our nominees, and we appreciate those who cared enough to share the information which allowed us to make the hard choice of choosing just one from each category,” said First Lady Sandra Deal. “Thank you for sharing your ‘Servant’s Heart’.”