2012 Hometown Heroes

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2012 Hometown HereosPeg Bumgardner
Nominated by: Lynn Farmer
Peg Bumgardner has worked at all levels of our educational structure. At Clairemont, she served as PTA Executive Board Treasurer, PTA Transition Team Member, Treasurer and volunteer for the Holiday Marketplace, and Parent Classroom Support Assistant. At Glennwood 4/5 Academy, Peg was PDO Executive Board Secretary, Chair of the Pumpkin Patch Fundraising, and Chair of the Tybee Island Fundraising and Legacy Initiative. Glennwood named her the 2008 Volunteer of the Year. At Renfroe, she served as the PTA Executive Board Treasurer, Materials Coordinator for the 6th grade Aqua Vita International Baccalaureate Unit, and chair of the School Leadership Team. At Decatur High, Peg co-chairs Membership for the Bulldog Booster Club, served as the DHS Senior Class Project Board Reviewer, and as parent leader for DHS Close Up Club Service Projects. Peg has been involved in a district-wide capacity as Parent Representative on the Reconfiguration Committee Part II, District Budget Committee School Leadership Team Representative, System Charter Leadership Team member, and organizer/ facilitator of School Leadership Teams district training. As an artist, Peg has made artwork donations to the Holiday Marketplace at Clairemont Elementary.

Jim Clanin
Nominated by: Lee Ann Harvey
Jim Clanin has volunteered for the Decatur Martin Luther King Jr. Service Project since 2005. Jim has taken several leadership roles over the years including being a House Captain and serving on the Small Projects team. Jim has outstanding carpentry skills which have proven useful with the numerous handicap ramps that the MLK Project has installed over the years. Over the past year, Jim has developed a website for the project (www.mlkserviceproject.com). The MLK Project has been extremely lucky to have Jim work on this since he is a professional website designer. He has been very patient with the volunteer committee members who are slow to get him information to put on the website. As soon as he receives the information, he readily gets it updated. Jim also volunteers at many other events in Decatur. He and his wife, Beth Ann, traditionally volunteer at the Kids & Teens Arts Festival held in conjunction with the Decatur Arts Festival. This is a very popular, fast-paced festival that takes a person with patience and a special affinity for working with children. Jim has made Decatur a better place by eagerly offering his expertise, whether it is carpentry, leadership, or website design. He is always someone who can be depended on to help.

Lynne Curtice
Nominated by: Lee Ann Harvey
Decatur is lucky that Lynne Curtice decided to retire. When she was working, Lynne found time to volunteer for A Season of Giving/Christmas Decatur and various festivals. As a retiree, she has thrown herself into almost nonstop volunteering devoting countless hours to A Season of Giving/Christmas Decatur and serving on the planning committee where her expertise as a media specialist has been invaluable. Lynne helps the Decatur Education Foundation with their annual fundraising book sale and now co-chairs the event. Lynne established a library in the Decatur Housing Authority’s new senior residence, Oliver House and worked to fill the empty shelves with over 1,500 books that have been catalogued and organized on the shelves. She solicited monetary donations from her neighborhood association to purchase the organizational materials and has trained some of the residents to be “Librarians,” so they are capable of running the library themselves. Lynne is having one amazing retirement!

Victor Donham
Nominated by: Friends of Decatur Cemetery
Victor Donham has volunteered with Friends of Decatur Cemetery (FODC) for several years. He loves history, genealogy, and all things Decatur. He traces his interest to his daughter’s first work project in the cemetery while she was a Renfroe student and tasked with cleaning out overgrown vegetation around Miss Emily Pittman’s 1852 gravesite. The fence was in disrepair and the grave box was in pieces, but the inscription was legible enough to spark interest in the Donham household. Victor began volunteering with FODC, studying and learning more about Miss Emily and the cemetery history in general. Victor investigated software applications suitable for use in cemetery management and advised the Public Works and Cemetery staff on available systems. When estimates to repair Miss Emily’s broken fence were well beyond available funds, Victor found a local blacksmith and welder who were able to complete repairs for a reasonable fee. He led a small team of volunteers in painting the fence in order to complete the project before a state cemetery conference convened. Victor’s professional understanding of the publishing business has made him a valuable asset in writing and publication of a new Decatur Cemetery Walking Tour brochure.

Vinny Ferguson
Nominated by: Gary Garrett
Vinny Ferguson is a long-time volunteer and supporter of Boy Scout Troop 107 whose home is at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church. He served as Scoutmaster for over 15 years and is critical to the troop’s ongoing success. Troop 107 leaders recruited Vinny in the mid-1990s to reorganize and rebuild the troop with a focus on at-risk boys in the Oakhurst neighborhood. Vinny’s notable activities include the annual community-wide Christmas tree sale at the Scout Hut at Oakhurst Baptist Church which is a major fundraising event for the troop with proceeds funding scholarships for camp, merit badge work, special awards and trips, and other general support for the troop. Scout Troop 107 has been in existence since 1911 and is the oldest troop in the metro Atlanta area. The small but active troop is involved in monthly events such as kayaking classes or a kayaking float, hiking and back packing trips, wilderness adventures to Boy Scout’s Philmont Camp in New Mexico, and weekly meetings at the cabin near Sugar Creek Garden. With Vinny’s leadership, Troop 107 teaches citizenship, leadership skills, and character development though a “learning by doing” program focused on outdoor activities.

Eddie Fowlkes
Nominated by: Susan Riley
Eddie Fowlkes has made a tremendous difference for the pride and joy of the city of Decatur, our school system. He is regularly at the Decatur High School library researching the yearbooks and documenting. He is called the historian who has lovingly cared for the hundreds of bits and pieces of history that remain. During the building transition, he spent countless hours moving massive cases of trophies and memorabilia back and forth many times and even storing it in his home garage when there was no other option. Now that there is a beautiful facility to display them, he continues to work tirelessly at restoring our history so it will shine for many years to come.

Mike Killeen
Nominated by: Beth Vann-Turnbull
Mike Killeen is working to ensure that families in poverty in our community have the opportunity to find security, stability, and a good quality of life. His vocation is Marketing Director for Lenz Marketing, but his avocation is as singer/songwriter. Mike envisioned a way to leverage his passion for music while raising awareness and funds for organizations that provide hands-on help and support for people experiencing homelessness and poverty. He engaged his friends and colleagues to create Poverty Is Real, a non-profit organization that travels from city-to-city, throwing fundraising concerts to support local organizations fighting poverty. Decatur Cooperative Ministry has benefited from concerts held at Eddie’s Attic over the past three years as recipients of over $17,000 from Mike and his efforts. Mike allows DCM ample time to share its message and mission from the stage and handles all of the details related to the concerts, a true gift to organizations already working beyond their staff capacity at times. Mike also dedicates his time as a member of the Board of Directors of the Magic of Life Foundation, a community organization that celebrates, educates, and supports cancer survivors and volunteered his time to perform at DCM’s 2011 Garden of Eatin. Few have done as much as Mike to mobilize others and provide substantial, tangible help to our neighbors that are struggling through fundraising and public awareness campaigns.

Walt and Ally McMann
Nominated by: Louis and Sandra Rice
After showcasing their garden for the Decatur Garden Tour, Walt joined the planning committee and eventually the board of the Wylde Center. He is involved in many ways from donating firewood for the fundraising auctions to facilitating the acquisition of additional green space, planning a building fund campaign and the development and implementation of a strategic plan. Ally and Walt host the annual dinner for the Growing Circle members of the Wylde Center. During the three days of the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Service Project, Walt supervised three major difficult and challenging yard work projects for qualifying home owners. Then, with his truck and chainsaw, Walt tackled additional projects as they arose. Finally, he patrolled every project with a crew of volunteers collecting trash and yard waste until all available dumpsters were filled. Ally is the treasurer for the Community Center of South Decatur. Founded in 1979, the Community Center of South Decatur is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and maintain The Solarium at Historic Scottish Rite as a sustainable community resource to be used for the assistance, education and enjoyment of the Decatur community. Ally also assists with schedules and events at this historic site.

Paul Mitchell
Nominated by: Lee Ann Harvey
Paul Mitchell has been a Martin Luther King Jr. Service Project volunteer since its founding in 2003. Paul has professional skills in all aspects of home repair and renovation. In 2010, Paul joined the leadership committee and has served as Project Chair for two years. Paul assesses the work to be done at all of the homes and develops reports for the committee to review doing in-depth assessments on between 25 and 40 homes (depending on the number of applicants). He works with the Operations Committee to assign the appropriately skilled House Captains to each of the selected homes. Paul oversees material purchases, tool rentals, and overseeing all aspects of the project. Paul has served on the (DPA) board for the last several years and has taken on a number of administrative duties, as well as grant writing and other fundraising duties for the MLK Project. Paul helps the seniors feel comfortable with what the project will do for them and with the volunteers who will work on their homes.

Jim and Claire Newbury
Nominated by: Bill Ainslie, Vicki Ainslie and Ann Berg
Jim and Claire Newbury volunteer their expertise in marketing and graphic design to help the Decatur Bulldog Boosters (DBB) move forward as a principal source of funding for the student athletes at Renfroe and Decatur High. The Newbury’s background and their work have been instrumental in assisting the DBB in getting its “message” out to the community. Jim and Claire have been on the Board for 5 years helping the DBB move forward and grow. They created the name, the logo, and the platform for the way DBB interfaces with the City Schools of Decatur and the Decatur business community.
Claire dedicates hours to put together the fall and winter sports programs, signage for events and concessions, and help at various fundraising events. The student athletes learn that there are times in every athletic season when team individuals are asked to step up, perform, and make those around them perform better. Jim and Claire Newbury are two of those individuals.

Arthur Ratliff
Nominated by: Gary Garrett and Sara Fountain
If there is an event in town, Arthur is one key person you can count on to be there, recording the event with personalized pictures of the participants. Arthur gives of his time and talent to record the events and the people of Decatur- always with a smile; always very professionally; and always sharing the many, many photographs he takes of any number of community events. He is a graduate of Leadership DeKalb and participates with that non-profit group as an historian. He attends numerous events, such as the DeKalb Library Foundation’s annual fundraiser, the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center’s fundraisers taking photos of the many community leaders and people who make Decatur a great place to live. His chronicles of the various non-profit agencies’ activities is a great gift to Decatur and to the organizations located in Decatur. In his photography, Arthur captures the true spirit of a community. He is always happy to share his photographs and oftentimes will post pictures, after proper permissions, on Facebook or other media, as well as to personally send photographs to those individuals whose pictures he has taken.

Margaret Schuelke
Nominated by: Douglas Faust
Margaret Schuelke’s work to house the homeless, especially homeless children, and her efforts to address the needs of her clients make Decatur a better place. Margaret leads Project Community Connections, Inc., a permanent housing program, often referred to as rapid rehousing, that provides a unique and crucial service to the homeless services provider community and its clients. The program allows homeless service providers to focus on stabilizing clients with case management while PCCI assumes the task of placing clients into appropriate permanent housing settings within the community. In 2010, with Margaret’s leadership, a local group of caring professionals formed DeKalb KidsHome Collaborative to seek new, creative ways of addressing the complex problems of homelessness as it impacted children. Margaret was recognized by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and the White House Office of Public Engagement as one of thirteen Americans who are “Winning the Future" to make an exceptional difference in the lives of families and youth and who further empower and inspire other members of their respective communities. Margaret and her team have also been coordinating efforts with the Decatur Housing Authority to secure housing for chronically homeless veterans in Decatur and in DeKalb County. PCCI’s efforts are speeding the housing process for veterans. Margaret is a mother and volunteers regularly with her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop on service projects

Susan Sparks
Nominated by: Katie Abel
Susan has volunteered for the Decatur Business Association’s Beach Party for more years than anyone can count. She has taken on the task of planning and organizing the children’s boardwalk area - a job which most people work tirelessly to avoid. The Beach Party is the DBA’s biggest fund raiser and money from this event helps to put on various free events throughout the year including the Concerts on the Square, the Easter Egg Hunt, the bonfire and marshmallow roast, and the 4th of July fireworks. The kids’ area at the Beach Party is one of the busiest and most complicated components of the event. Susan has made the Boardwalk one of the best summer traditions that Decatur has to offer. Susan takes care of every aspect, including selecting the games and the inflatables, selecting and ordering the prizes, developing the layout, and supervising the volunteers during the event. She stepped up to co-chair the event and now oversees all aspects of the festival from fundraising to budgeting to selecting the bands that will perform. She has devoted countless hours to making the Beach Party and Decatur a truly fun and enjoyable place for everyone and a wonderful fundraising event.

Stephanie Van Parys
Nominated by: Gary Garrett, Joy Provost and Patrick Foster
Stephanie serves as Executive Director of the Wylde Center, formerly the Oakhurst Community Garden Project where she has guided the growth of the Center for the past seven years through dedicated leadership and love for all aspects of the Center and its unique standing in the Decatur community as well as within the community garden sphere and the urban gardening movement in the Atlanta region. As a primary component of the city schools of Decatur Expeditionary Learning Program, the classes taught and lessons from the Wylde Center are unique and invaluable. Summer programs offer youngsters an extended opportunity to participate in nature; learn where and how their food is grown from seed and harvested and cooked; and even camp out among the plants. Stephanie has given countless presentations to the community and beyond about the garden, about the value of food, about the experiences that come with being in nature and seeing plants grown; and in being in their natural settings. Under her leadership the Wylde Center has evolved into a staff of 9 with an active board, a robust donor program, a highly-acclaimed ‘Martinis in the Garden’ event. Stephanie manages and organizes the Annual City of Decatur Earth Day event that attracts scores of neighbors and residents, complete with parade, marching band and 30-40 vendors and crafts related to earth-friendly concerns. Stephanie is involved with the Decatur Farm to School program; serving as educational expert on vegetable gardening to teachers and schools; participating with programs through the Decatur Housing Authority and the Decatur Active Living department; and in partnership with the city of Decatur and DeKalb County Public Library on the Living the Green Life series.

Greg Wiseman
Nominated by: Joy Pope-Alandete, Aiden Downey and Margaret Master
Greg Wiseman is committed to bringing together Winnona Park neighbors and the wider school community to create a strategic plan for the Winnona Park "green space." Greg is the first to take on this large and complex task. He worked through the initial ideas with his School Leadership Team and then pulled together a committee of neighbors, parents, and teachers to build a rough survey. He created an online survey, shopped it for feedback and pressed through with multiple edits before opening it to the community. Over 170 people took they survey, entering a positive, good-faith conversation with one another about how to best consider and maintain the acreage that houses Winnona Park Elementary and acts as the neighbors' only direct, usable green space. Greg brought unique attributes to the process including unwavering positive energy and grace that connected the various members of the community in a way that didn't exist before. He supports a school and seasonal community garden. Children benefitted from all of the initiatives of the larger Farm to School program and school neighbors experienced a deep physical connection to the space because of the garden, the bird and butterfly habitats that it supports, and the school's budding fruit orchard. These efforts go beyond what exists on his ordinary to-do list. His unique traits of kind-heartedness and real interest in the people he shares the planet with are qualities that define what it means to be a public servant.

Marc Wisniewski
Nominated by: Bill Ainslie, Vicki Ainslie and Ann Berg
Many know Marc for his diligent work on the School Board for the City Schools of Decatur, but Marc has also been involved with the Decatur Bulldog Boosters (DBB) as its Treasurer for the last 6 years. Despite his busy professional schedule and his duties on the school board, Marc has volunteered his time for the DBB and attended to the vital job of keeping the organization’s finances in order. Setting the budget, making deposits, writing checks, filing necessary paperwork and keeping the DBB apprised of its financial position is an important, year round role that Marc plays proficiently. Marc has also readily shared his vision of the DBB’s role in the City Schools of Decatur and has lent his time and organizational skills in mapping out policies under which the DBB can work more efficiently and purposefully. For several years Marc also spearheaded organizing the DBB’s spring fundraiser by securing the site, organizing volunteers, hosting meetings and being on hand to assure that all went according to plan. Marc has been a fixture at the score keepers table for Varsity and JV lacrosse games since the program was begun in 2004. Keeping track of time, penalties, and individual players statistics for both teams, Marc attended most every game and provided a vital service to the team and the school by serving “on the table” as the head scorekeeper. Marc also donated his time and prose to write summaries of the lacrosse games for the DBB e-newsletter.

The Church at Decatur Heights
Special Decatur Hometown Hero Award
The Church at Decatur Heights is being honored with a special Decatur Hometown Hero award for their outstanding contribution and commitment to the community. The Church, its pastor Dr. Alan Smith, and Church members are truly unsung heroes of Decatur. Often working quietly behind the scenes, Dr. Smith and the Church members have supported the Decatur Heights Neighborhood Association, A Season of Giving/Christmas Decatur, community gardening, wellness programs, and youth sports. They routinely open up their Church, gym and grounds to the community.

Dr. Smith has been called on to mediate neighborhood relations and to strengthen neighborhood bonds. In addition to Dr. Smith’s efforts, member Vicki Tuttle serves as the Church’s neighborhood liaison. They, along with Dr. Smith’s wife Stephanie, always ask what they can do to help. They always warmly invite groups to use their facilities, whether it is for neighborhood programs or youth sports in the gym. They have readily hosted neighborhood potluck dinners, last year’s District One City Schools of Decatur Candidates forum, the Decatur Heights Safety and Home Security Crackdown, and the City of Decatur’s Kilowatt Crackdown Winners Block Party. The Church compassionately welcomed the Peer Support and Wellness Center neighbors and welcomed them to become a part of the neighborhood. They enthusiastically invite support groups and wellness programs to use meeting space. The Church provided a venue for the Georgia Mental Health Consumers Network to hold two big events - Decatur’s Recovery Rally and the Respect Institute’s Graduation.

The Church and its members are eager supporters of neighborhood athletics and youth programs. Open Gym is held on Wednesdays and overseen by Vicki Tuttle; the Ironman Chess Club meets twice a month and is led by Coach Tim Brookshear. Decatur Active Living frequently uses the facility for basketball practice, gymnastic camp, and a rain site for baseball camp and skate camp. They also hosted the Mike Glenn Hearing Impaired Basketball Camp.

The Church collaborated with neighbors to start a park and community garden behind the Church that has served as a way to bring the neighborhood even closer together. The Church generously donated $500 to start the park and garden. For two and a half years, a small dedicated group of neighbors and church members worked together to create a welcoming environment with a playscape, seating, flower beds, and community garden plots. It is a peaceful spot for neighbors and Church members to meet each other and get to know each other better.

The Church at Decatur Heights, its members and pastor Dr. Alan Smith provide a haven for the community, whether in their neighborhood or in the city at large. They practice what they preach and are loving, committed, and supportive neighbors whose inclusive and compassionate attitude uplifts everyone they encounter. They have become more than a Church to all that they touch. They make you feel you are part of their family.