By Heather Darenberg
Gwinnett Daily Post, August 29, 2010
The Women's Leadership Council of United Way in Gwinnett wants the community to know that doing good is fashionable.
In a fundraising event reminiscent of an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” the Council honored four women Saturday for investing their time, talent and treasure in the community. Marsha Anderson Bomar, Renee Byrd-Lewis, Pam Kramer and Barbara King received their awards in an event that featured a fashion show and fabulous giveaways.
King, the retired executive vice president of Primerica, received the Anna Shackelford Legacy Award.
King's leadership has benefited the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, Gwinnett Technical College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Annandale Village, the Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia, the Gwinnett Philharmonic, Hudgens Center for the Arts, the American Red Cross and the United Way of Gwinnett and Metro Atlanta.
“Being directly involved herself is only part of Barbara's legacy,” the event program states. “She encourages others to do their part and frequently matches friends and colleagues with organizations needing volunteer help. What Barbara has accomplished in over 30 years of community involvement has made Gwinnett County a better community and has earned her countless awards and recognition.”
King said she likes to give her time and money to organizations that are run efficiently and that help people who really need it.
“It's always a tremendous honor to be honored by your peers,” she said.
Kramer, the co-founder of the Gwinnett Community Clinic, received the Time Award. In its first year of operation, the clinic was housed in the Gwinnett County Health Department. Patient records, laboratory supplies and other medical necessities were stored in a closet during the day. Each night after the health department closed, the three founders and their volunteer nurses unloaded the closet and began administering to patients.
The clinic workers prepared patients to see the on-call physician, prescribed medications, competed paperwork and referred the patients to specialists for further treatment if needed. It cost the patient a suggested donation of $5. About 10 p.m., the closet would be loaded up again until the next night.
Despite holding a full-time nursing position and being a wife and mother of a toddler, Kramer worked at the clinic every night it was open during that first year. Today, the Gwinnett Community Clinic celebrates 20 years of providing quality medical care to needy residents from its location in Emory Eastside Medical Center's Wound Care Clinic.
Kramer attributes the success to God.
“My mother taught me to love God first and love my neighbors by serving,” she said. Byrd-Lewis, the community relations director for Cisco, received the Talent Award. In her professional role, Byrd-Lewis directs a number of initiatives, but she also gives freely of her personal time, volunteering for boards, committees and task forces that seek to improve the quality of life for all in Gwinnett County.
Event organizers said Byrd-Lewis is masterful at rallying the resources, volunteers and support needed to get the job done.
“Clearly, one does not get in this position by yourself,” Byrd-Lewis said. “Great parents can give you a lot to get forward in life ... (and) I would not be able to do for the community if not the support of my husband (Tim).”
Bomar, an entrepreneur, was honored with the Treasure Award.
Educated as an engineer, Bomar started her own company, StreetSmarts, and grew it into a successful business. Today, StreetSmarts employees, following the model of the company's founder, support numerous charities with financial gifts and volunteer service.
To ensure that her company's philanthropic outreach continues, Bomar established the StreetSmarts Foundation in 2007.
Bomar said she had an amazing example in her mom and dad. Growing up, her family lived hand-to-mouth, but her parents found time to give. When they had the money, she said her parents donated $18 — an amount significant to them because the word for 18 means “life” in Hebrew.
When she was able, Bomar said she started out by giving $18 and worked to multiply that amount.
“Think about that next $18 you can give,” Bomar said. “Whatever your personal best is, start there. Learn how much it is, and grow it as you can. Be that model for other people.”
Proceeds from the Legacy Awards will help children and families in need. Last year, the event enabled the Women's Leadership Council to award more than $36,000 in community grants to the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Mary Hall Freedom House, Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett, The Salvation Army of Gwinnett, Norcross Cooperative Ministry and The IMPACT! Group.
The financial goal for this year's event was $35,000.
Founded in 1999, the Women's Leadership Council was created to mobilize women to become powerful philanthropists through leadership, fundraising and advocacy.