Outstanding women celebrated by United Way

By Meghan Kotowski
GwinnettDailyPost.com, August 24, 2012

There are thousands of volunteers in the county who give their time and talent – not to mention blood, sweat and tears – back to Gwinnett.

Today, the United Way Women's Leadership Council honors four female volunteers at the 9th Annual Legacy Awards for their contributions to the community at the Gwinnett Place Marriott. The event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"Every woman nominated has used her unique gifts to make a meaningful impact on the Gwinnett community," event co-chair Jennifer Thilo said. "Our selection committee had a challenging task, but we are all proud to recognize this year's outstanding honorees."

This year's honorees are Davida Baker for her time, Connie Wiggins for her talent, Karen Fine Saltiel in treasure, and Ethel Anderson in legacy.

Time Award recipient Davida Baker
Davida Baker is no stranger to giving her time back to the streets. She can be found packing lunches, then driving city to city delivering meals to a number of motels as part of Project Kids Eat.

Baker founded the program 14 years ago. She and other volunteers feed struggling families who live in extended stay motels to avoid becoming homeless.

"I think my proudest accomplishment has been feeding people in hotels," she said. "The spinoff from that (initial project) has been phenomenal. We invite other churches and groups to join us and teach them that they can do something like this with the resources they have available to them. They don't have to do it our way, but if they come and play with us, they will get energized and think, 'We can do this.'"

Baker also serves as a member of the board of directors for the Gwinnett County Department of Family and Children Services.

Talent Award recipient Connie Wiggins
As the executive director of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful since 1985, Connie Wiggins has seen many positive environmental changes in the county, which has brought the organization more than 100 awards and commendations in the state and on a national level.

Today, Wiggins is adding a new award to her mantel: United Way Women's Leadership Council's Legacy Award for talent.

"It's like getting a Christmas present everyday," she said about the recognition. "It's very humbling. It's very exciting, inspiring – makes me keep doing what I'm doing."

Wiggins plans to continue the fight to keep Gwinnett "clean and beautiful" with recycling, litter and graffiti prevention, and environmental education. Her next goal is to make Gwinnett the "greenest community in America."

Treasure Award recipient Karen Fine Saltiel
Since its founding in 2011, Karen Fine Saltiel has held the title of chairman and president of The Primerica Foundation, which has awarded more than $600,000 to 26 nonprofits in the past year.

She is also on the board of several other nonprofit agencies, like Rainbow Village, ArtWorks! Gwinnett, the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation and the American Cancer Society Leadership Council.

Even with hours of dedication and hard work to show, Saltiel admires the previous treasure award recipients for their dedication.

"I'm honored. It's very humbling especially in comparison to the women who have preceded me," she said. "The women who had won the legacy award for the past two years, I've known these women and they're all pretty amazing."

Anna Shackelford Legacy Award recipient Ethel Andersen
For work, Ethel Andersen spends many hours practicing law in the areas of estate planning and probate. For fun, she volunteers her time, knowledge and experience to those in need around the county.

During her time away from the courtroom, Andersen works closely with Gwinnett Council for the Arts, the Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia and Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation, just to name a few.

This year's Anna Shackelford Legacy Award recipient is used to working behind the scenes on several boards, but she's ready to get some hands on time in the future.

"I want to think about getting one-on-one with people, mentoring or tutoring," she said. "I've done a lot of board work which worked out well with my work schedule, but I think I would like more one-on-one."

Other nominee finalists to be recognized during the lunch include Sheila Adcock, Mary Beth Byerly, Annie Copeland, Dr. Rekha Desai, Brenda Falkler, Mary Kay Murphy, Dr. Nannette Napier, Charlotte Nash, Dorothy Rainey, Tammy Shumate, Dr. Carol Terry, Tammy Verdi, Nancy Ward, Latabia Woodward and Nancy Yancey.

Last year's event raised $34,000, which was given to the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry, Norcross Cooperative Ministry, the Salvation Army, Rainbow Village, the Impact! Group and CPAC.

Tickets are available for the event for $100 per person or $1,000 for a table for 10. The proceeds benefit the United Way.