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DeKalb volunteers honored by YMCA of Metro Atlanta
by Staff Reports
November 26, 2013 05:39 PM | 2378 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Several local residents received the YMCA of Metro Atlanta’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year awards for outstanding service.

They were honored at the annual volunteer recognition dinner Nov. 4.

DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson is the East Lake Family YMCA 2013 Volunteer of the Year. Johnson represents District 3 and focuses on youth, regional impact, economic and community redevelopment. He is the chair of the Early Learning/School Readiness Education Commission.

“Commissioner Johnson’s advocacy on behalf of youth and family-serving agencies helps strengthen the Y’s strategic plan priorities of ensuring school readiness, improving academic achievement, empowering healthy living, and inspiring teen leadership,” said R.C. Pruitt, executive director of the East Lake Family Y. “He displays great leadership, seeks to enhance the quality of life of residents and is committed to the community and to public-private partnerships.”

Maurice Evans Jr. received the volunteer of the year award for his service at the South DeKalb Family YMCA. Evans is a city of Atlanta resident. He is the human resources director at The Integral Group and a member of 100 Black Men of DeKalb County.

“Maurice has a passion for empowering those in the community,” said Curtis Winston, executive director of the South DeKalb Y. “He has been a South DeKalb Y board member for four years and coaches youth basketball.

As a product of the south DeKalb community and a graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School, Maurice welcomes the opportunity to mentor DeKalb’s young people through his coaching efforts on and off the court.”

Jennifer Durham is the Decatur Family YMCA 2013 Volunteer of the Year.

For the past nine years, Jennifer has been involved in a volunteer-run program called the Happy Club. She has been the Happy Club coordinator for the past three years. An Atlanta resident, Durham is the activity coordinator at Park Springs, a continuing care retirement community in Stone Mountain.

The Happy Club is an enrichment program for adults with physical and developmental disabilities. It is solely run by volunteers. Durham coordinates the Decatur Y chapter, which is one of four in the organization. Happy Club members meet twice a month on weekends and go to the movies, restaurants, sporting events, museums, theater and many other recreational activities.

The most anticipated event is the annual beach trip, a long weekend filled with camaraderie and fun for 60 members.

Don Speaks, a project manager with the Morehouse School of Medicine, is the Arthur M. Blank Family Youth YMCA 2013 Volunteer of the Year. He is a resident of Stone Mountain. Speaks spends much of his volunteer time developing collaborative programs and processes, which he sees as keys to making strides in the community.

“We want to change the process so youth-serving agencies start working together the moment a child is born through that child’s passage to age 21,” he said. “Our job should be to prevent breaks in that link like dropping out of school, youth crime, poverty or hunger.”

Jazzmin McKelvey-Hunter, of Lithonia, is receiving the volunteer of the year award at the YMCA Academies of South DeKalb. McKelvey-Hunter began volunteering with the organization when her daughter entered the pre-kindergarten program at the Y Academies.

She serves in the classroom by reading to the children, helping with projects and administrative duties and volunteers at the center’s various festivals, special events and activities.

“The Y is synonymous with being a place where young adults, teens and children can learn to be upstanding members of society and build lifelong, healthy friendships,” said McKelvey-Hunter. “By volunteering at the Y, I can see I am making a difference in the lives of others.”

Lisa Skelly, is the Cowart Family/Ashford Dunwoody YMCA 2013 Volunteer of the Year. She is a volunteer advisor to the organization’s Leaders Club. Students develop leadership skills and a giving attitude through volunteer activities in the community, along with leadership training and other programs.

“Lisa is a true cause-driven leader,” said Julie Koriakan, executive director of the Cowart Family/Ashford Dunwoody Y. “She understands how import the Y’s role is in the development of children. She can engage pre-teens and teens during their formative years, helping them develop into inspired teen leaders.”

Jacqui Steele, of Stone Mountain, is receiving the volunteer of the year award for her service at the Wade Walker Park Family YMCA. Located at Wade Walker Park on Rockbridge Road in Stone Mountain, the center opened in September 2012. It is a healthy living collaboration with the county.

“Jacqui is a founding board member of the Wade Walker Park Family Y,” said Winston Myers, executive director. “She is a tireless volunteer and has an ability to connect the YMCA to public and private partners. Jacqui also leads the annual giving campaign to provide financial assistance for those who express an inability to pay for Y programs. She wants to be informed, so she can be a part of any solution.”

Steele is president of Steele Program Managers, LLC. Her community involvement also includes her homeowner’s association board, Leadership DeKalb, Juvenile Court Citizens Panel Review Board and DeKalb Volunteers in Police Services.

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