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Decatur Salutes 2008 Hometown Heroes
2008 Hometown Heroes
Ann Berg - Ann has taken a leadership position in the civic organizations of which she is a part. She enthusiastically supports our Decatur school system and helps bring resources to them. She is a strong supporter of the athletics programs as well as the academic programs for the schools. She is a working member of the organizations she is involved in rather than a member in name only. Ann has two young boys and involves them in many of the activities, such as MLK workday and the Electronics Recycling Days. She teaches them the value and the responsibility of helping others in our community. She has served as the Decatur Business Association President Elect, arranging all the meetings and sponsors among other duties, and will serve as President in 2009. In addition to the organizations she is part of and the volunteer work she does, Ann participates in and supports the many events in Decatur. She is a hard worker and willing to be involved in all of the good things that are happening in the City of Decatur. Nominated by Judy Turner.

Carl Black - Carl is an active member of his condominium association and is always trying to get them more involved in the city. He routinely passes along information on the city’s many events and community service projects. Carl is a regular attendee at the Decatur Neighborhood Alliance (DNA) and was one of the founders of the Decatur Condo Alliance. Carl serves on the Decatur Wine Tasting Festival, Great Decatur Beer Tasting Festival, and Decatur Arts Festival planning committees. He has been a Stage Captain at the Decatur Book Festival for the past two years. Carl has also volunteered with Decatur’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Project. Carl is happy to help in any way, whether out front or behind the scenes. Nominated by Lee Ann Harvey.

Erin Braden - Erin has been president of the Glennwood Estates Neighborhood Association (GENA) for several years. She coordinated the efforts with her neighbors to participate in A Season of Giving/Christmas Decatur, which provides holiday gifts for low income children and senior citizens. Erin obtained the wish lists, gave them to her neighbors, and made sure the gifts were turned in on time. She increased her neighborhood’s participation in the program and challenged other neighborhoods to take part and set up a friendly competition. This year, Erin took over as chair of the Clairemont Holiday Marketplace and Café, a fundraising event for Clairemont Elementary School PTA. She is also a Girl Scout troop leader at Clairemont Elementary. Nominated by Lee Ann Harvey.

Herb Chereck - Herb has served on the Decatur Arts Alliance Wine Festival organizing committee for the past 5 years. Herb spends countless hours working with the wine distributors to get wine donated to the Wine Festival, which is a fundraiser for the Decatur Arts Festival. Herb organizes the distributors, gets their wine list, and works closely with the Director of the Arts Alliance to put on the event. In addition, Herb also asks the distributors and salespeople for donations for a drawing. He rallies his entire family to come to the event and sell tickets for the drawing. A few years ago, Herb suggested that the money from the drawing go to the Decatur Youth Fund, an organization that funds scholarships for after school and summer camps for Decatur Youth. Now over $1000 is donated each year. Nominated by Angie Macon and Cheryl Burnette.

Mike Curtice - Mike and his wife moved to Decatur to be closer to their daughter and her family. His daughter told him about Decatur’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Project, which provides home repairs and yard work to Decatur’s senior citizens. Mike immediately signed up to volunteer. Ironically, one of the House Captains for a senior citizen’s home down the street from Mike had to withdraw from the project. Mike, a retired building inspector, readily agreed to take over and brought along his son-in-law to help. The next year, he took a much larger role in planning the project and joined the Executive committee. He assisted with doing initial assessments of the work to be done in the homes, as well as the Herculean task of coordinating the skilled contractors who were assisting with work on the homes. During the 2008 project, Mike worked all weekend coordinating contractors and offering advice to the House Captains in spite of being in severe pain as a result of breaking ribs several days before the project. Mike has spent countless hours meeting with volunteers, visiting senior citizens’ homes, and compiling information to present to the committee. He also volunteers at many Oakhurst neighborhood special events and spends a considerable amount of his time helping the senior citizens in his neighborhood with home repairs throughout the year. Nominated by Lee Ann Harvey.

Laura Deming - In 2005, Laura co-founded and co-chaired SkaterAid, a skateboard festival to honor the life of Ian Wochatz, a Decatur teenager and avid skateboarder, after he lost his difficult battle with brain cancer. SkaterAid provides a place to honor Ian’s memory in a way he would have enjoyed - with music, friends and skateboarding. This event also raises funds to support families who are dealing with the tragedy of pediatric cancer. Laura has helped with A Season of Giving/Christmas Decatur for years. This program provides holiday gifts to Decatur’s low income children and senior citizens. She volunteers on application days to help the families fill out their paperwork, on the day parents are scheduled to pick up their gifts and she also picks up the gifts for the parents who are unable to make it and arranges for them to get the gifts from her. For the past several years, Laura has helped the food committee for Decatur’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Project delivering lunches to the hundreds of volunteers working at numerous senior citizens’ homes throughout the city. As a school counselor, Laura’s firsthand knowledge of the challenges that families face motivates her to take care of Decatur’s children and to look out for everyone she encounters in Decatur. Nominated by Lee Ann Harvey.

Jim & Matthew Dickson - Jim Dickson and his 14-year-old son, Matthew, have been Decatur volunteers for a number of years. They are especially crucial to the success of A Season of Giving/Christmas Decatur. For the last several years, Jim and Matthew have delivered gifts to approximately 20 senior citizens. Not only do they take the time to deliver the gifts, they also spend time visiting with them. These visits brighten up the seniors’ lives. Matthew shows wisdom and caring far beyond his years by intently listening and has wonderful conversations with them. The seniors always comment on how much they enjoy their visits with Jim and Matthew. Sometimes, taking the time to listen is the best gift you can give. Jim realizes the importance of the relationships to both Matthew and the seniors. He would like to have other teenagers and preteens come along to visit with the seniors. He realizes that Matthew will be off to college in a few years and he wants to see this tradition continue. Jim has been a board member with the Oakhurst Community Garden Project. He is currently on the board of the Community Center of South Decatur, which manages The Solarium in the historic Scottish Rite Hospital and helps with hosting the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Project. Both Jim and Matthew volunteer annually at the Children’s Arts Festival portion of the Decatur Arts Festival and also set out luminaries at the Decatur Holiday Candlelight Tour of Homes in December. Nominated by Lee Ann Harvey.

Scott Drake - Scott has served on a large number of Decatur committees where he is frequently the chairperson. He served as co-chair for the Concerts on the Square committee. He was diligent in his responsibilities and helped set up the Saturday evening concerts, worked with the volunteers, and monitored the concert throughout the evening. Scott co-chaired the Decatur Beach Party committee for three years. This event is the Decatur Business Association’s biggest fundraiser. Under Scott’s direction, sponsorship dollars increased, as well as attendance. Scott’s marketing background was useful in making important changes, such as selling tickets online and advertising in AirTran’s magazine to attract a larger audience for this family-oriented community event. Scott volunteers annually for the Decatur Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Project where he makes use of his home repair skills. In addition to his membership in the Decatur Business Association where he is now President Elect, Scott is a member of Decatur Rotary and was appointed to the Decatur Infill Task Force. Nominated by Cheryl Burnette.

Ron & Kathleen Everett - Ron and Kathleen are on the boards of both the Decatur Business Association (DBA) and the Decatur Arts Alliance (DAA). They are also both heavily involved in the discussions between the community, city, school system, and arts organizations about the Decatur Cultural Arts Master Plan. Ron and Kathleen are co-chairs of the DBA sponsored Easter Egg Hunt, Breakfast with Santa, and the Holiday Bonfire & Marshmallow Roast. They brought in new ideas to freshen up the events, including developing a sponsorship package that would target businesses that would be a good match for these family-oriented events. They introduced online ticket sales for Breakfast with Santa and are sticklers about keeping to their budget. Ron and Kathleen made these events more fun for children by incorporating lively music and dance. They are also active participants in the DBA’s Decatur Beach Party where they work for six hours during the evening supervising volunteers at one of the entry gates. Nominated by Cheryl Burnette.

Spencer Johnson - Spencer has been an active member of the Community Center of South Decatur for a number of years and served on the board for a two-year term. Spencer spearheaded their fundraising cook outs for a number of years and the celebration cookout for hundreds of volunteers at the end of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Project. He is an annual volunteer at the Great Decatur Beer Tasting Festival, a fundraising event that provides thousands of dollars in grants for local community groups. For the last several years, Spencer has provided a crucial service to the festival by taking charge of ice distribution throughout the day. He arrives early in the morning and spends the day delivering 40-pound bags of ice throughout the large festival area. It is strenuous work but Spencer always does it with a smile on his face. He also recruits a number of his friends and neighbors to volunteer to help him. In addition, Spencer is an active participant in his local Oakhurst neighborhood events. He arrives early to set up and then assists wherever needed during the festivals. Spencer understands how critical the “behind the scenes” jobs are and eagerly agrees to help with them. He brings a sense of humor and joy to his volunteering. Nominated by Lee Ann Harvey.

Chuck & Charlie Lewis - Chuck and Charlie can be credited with the growth and development of Decatur’s thriving fast pitch softball program for girls at Decatur High School, Renfroe Middle School, and Decatur Active Living Department. Chuck became a coach when he registered his daughters for the inaugural program in 2000. When their youngest daughter’s team didn’t have a coach, Chuck’s wife, Charlie, stepped in too. They worked with the Active Living Department to organize and staff clinics, pitching lessons, and additional practices for new players. Chuck and Charlie have been remarkable ambassadors for Decatur’s softball program. When younger aged girls began expressing interest in playing, Chuck stepped up and offered several “Introduction to Fast Pitch Softball” Clinics. He and his family launched a successful recruitment drive for players. Chuck currently serves as a community coach for the Renfroe Middle School fast pitch softball teams. He coordinates the program and serves as the primary coach for one of the teams. He also lends a hand to the varsity and junior varsity teams at Decatur High School. Charlie coordinates Decatur First United Methodist Church’s children’s clothing sale and Roy's Toy's/Toy Team where church members provide gifts for A Season of Giving/Christmas Decatur. Nominated by David Weitnauer.

Nonie Ravenberg - The Decatur Book Festival has quickly developed a reputation as the best run book festival in the country. This is in large measure due to the work of Nonie, who has taken on the critical work of managing author and venue logistics, bringing the same level of professionalism and dedication to this nonprofit as she does for corporate conferences. Nonie first volunteered as a stage captain but it quickly became evident that she was overqualified for the job, so she was put in charge of training, directing, and supporting all of the stage captains that year. This led to the stages running far more smoothly. Nonie took even greater ownership of the stage captain recruitment, training, and planning in 2008. She developed site plans for each venue that showed the event flow, venue capacity, and areas for overflow standing room only for each venue. Nonie recruited and oversaw a team of volunteer speaker managers, all professionals in the field, who coordinated all author logistics, including travel, lodging, scheduling, ground transportation, check-in, and many other critical tasks. All the major publishers in the nation now realize the Decatur Book Festival is one they can send their authors to knowing that they will be well taken care of and that their events will be well run. Nonie's leadership, professionalism, and hard work, most of it behind the scenes and rarely acknowledged, do so much to give the authors a smooth and satisfying experience in Decatur. Nominated by Thomas Bell.

Rhett Rhame - Like many of the folks who make Decatur a great place to live, Rhett is one who stays behind the scenes always helping out but never drawing attention to himself. He is THE “go to guy” for many organizations and his friends when they need someone to fill a last minute void in their volunteer forces. He rarely says no, even when saying yes means a personal cost to him. He is not beneath doing any job, from picking up trash, painting halls at the Police Station, or filling in at the last minute at a soccer practice. Rhett frequently helps when those in need have not even asked him to do so. When hears that someone is having a problem he cannot let it go unresolved and will brainstorm solutions and call others for ideas on how to get the problem fixed. He recently did that for a girl who participates in a young girl’s rock band with his daughter. This child had no instrument to play and had to work very hard just to get to school every day. Rhett set out to find her the equipment she needed and also rallied the other band members’ parents into helping this child. As a result, the young girl was given a bass guitar with all the accessories (Rhett never does anything half way) and an amplifier. This is just one example of the care and concern Rhett displays on behalf of our community. Nominated by Vandy, Jim and Matthew Dickson.

Jerry G. White - Jerry began volunteering with the Decatur Arts Festival in 2001 when he took over the Literary Arts Festival. He immediately expanded it from one to two days. Jerry reached out to various organizations to work with him, including DeKalb Library, Georgia Center for the Book, African Americans for the Arts, Georgia Shakespeare, and The Children’s Museum. He brought variety and diversity to the event, as well as increasing the quality of the presentations. In 2006, Jerry added a Friday night “Speak…easy,” an event to celebrate the spoken word artists in the Decatur area. In 2007, he invited Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta (LVA) to participate. LVA volunteers, board members, and staff volunteered throughout all three days of the Literary Arts Festival. A highlight was when one of the LVA clients gave a testimonial on how she learned to read as a result of an LVA program. Jerry joined the board of the Decatur Arts Alliance (DAA) and continues to not only chair the Literary Arts, but has increased his participation in other DAA events and the festival itself. Jerry worked with the Film Festival in 2008 and contributes ideas and contacts to the Children’s Festival as well. Beginning in 2007, Jerry was a volunteer Stage Captain for the Decatur Book Festival where he has worked on the writers’ stage and children’s stage. He has spent the last two Labor Day weekends volunteering his time and talents to the Book Festival, after spending every Memorial Day weekend for over 6 years volunteering for the Decatur Arts Festival. Nominated by Cheryl Burnette.

Janie Yorker - Decatur’s “livable community” qualities, including pedestrian friendly walkscapes, easy access to shopping and public buildings, and excellent public transportation made this an ideal relocation spot for someone facing visual impairment like Janie. She began volunteering right away with the Decatur Active Living Department. She is secretary of Scott Park Garden Club and calls members to remind them of upcoming meetings and deadlines, even though her own ability to garden is now severely limited. She assists Decatur Active Living staff with the senior citizen club, Keenagers, by mailing out birthday and get well cards. Janie joined Friends of Decatur Library and helps out as a cashier and shelf sorter with their semiannual book sales. She also volunteers at DeKalb History Center where she transfers death notices from old archival books into newer ones. Janie volunteers as an envelope stuffer for Decatur Cooperative Ministry and takes tickets at their annual fundraising event, Garden of Eatin’ – A Taste of Decatur. She began volunteering at DisAbility Link to read mail to a blind woman using cassette tape recordings, which is an ironic position for Janie, since she is losing her own sight. She now works part time at DisAbility Link, helping challenged individuals find meaningful job placements. Due to her visual impairment, Janie is interested in pedestrian mobility matters and is a frequent attendee at Decatur meetings to learn about and share her experiences related to walking and street crossing in downtown Decatur. Nominated by Alan Yorker.

Last updated: 12/20/2010 3:29:17 PM