Susan Thornton wins Anne T. Rutherford Award for work with Graceworks The Manger project, others recognized for volunteerism

Franklin Tomorrow held its seventh annual Shrimp Boil on Saturday, July 13, at the Hughes Mill commons area at Berry Farms subdivision. More than 250 people attended the event, presented by Pinnacle Financial Partners, Boyle Investment, Williamson Medical Center, and Vanderbilt Health, among a host of other sponsors.

Susan Thornton, one of the founders of Graceworks, was recognized with the Anne T. Rutherford Exemplary Community Volunteer Award for her support of the organization since its founding and specifically for her work with The Manger project.

Receiving the Volunteer Spirit Awards were Patty Bearden, Franklin Noon Rotary Club; Henry Booker, Franklin Housing Authority; and Alma McLemore, African-American Heritage Society & other organizations. Jayce Arnette received the Youth Initiative Award, and the late Dr. Craig Ferrell and late Ed Moody were honored with the Ned Lea Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Franklin Tomorrow President Kathie Moore presented the President’s Award to Friends of Franklin Parks for their work since being founded by Franklin Tomorrow in 2011.

Anne T. Rutherford Exemplary Community Volunteer Award

Susan Thornton

GraceWorks Ministries might not even exist without Susan Thornton, and certainly not in its present form.

Eighteen years ago, she was instrumental in establishing GraceWorks, a unique inter-denominational agency combining area churches, individuals and businesses in a mission to help Williamson County families in need with such basic items as food, clothing, and utility and rental assistance

“Twenty-three years ago Susan’s Sunday school class provided Christmas for a low-income family, but the mother’s comment that she didn’t get to choose the gifts sparked the beginning of The Manger, which she later brought to GraceWorks and still coordinates each year,” Franklin Tomorrow President Kathie Moore said in reading from Thornton’s nomination by Graceworks.

“In May 2010, as part of her volunteerism with Graceworks, she organized volunteers to go door-to-door using FEMA lists to find who needed help and then arranged for that help. She later created Noah’s Christmas, which collected Christmas trees, ornaments and decor through Graceworks to replace those lost by flood victims,” Moore said. “When Hurricane Katrina hit, Susan grabbed tools and took off for the Gulf Coast. Often sleeping in her truck, she found and repaired damaged homes. The need she saw and the contacts she made there enabled her to lead Graceworks in finding the best places to send contributions from Williamson County to the Gulf to help hurricane victims.

Volunteer Spirit Awards

Patty Bearden

Bearden has been a member of the Franklin Noon Rotary Club for eight years and a board member for four. She received the distinguished Paul Harris Fellow award in 2009 and was the Rotarian of the year in 2011. When

Bearden engages and encourages organizations in the community to work together by focusing on aspects of our community we all love such as our downtown and the great tradition of the Franklin Rodeo.

Her involvement in Rotary is integral to the success of the Franklin Noon club, yet she remains just as active in other organizations as well. For a number of years, she served as a Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and even received the Ambassador of the Year two years in a row.

For the past eight years, Patty has volunteered for NHC Cool Springs and has worked in their gift shop and also directed quarterly workshops for assisted living residents. She also serves on the Board of the J.L. Clay Senior Citizen Center and is helping to restore and improve “Short Park.”

“If you are at a meeting or event in Franklin and find beautiful flowers, like the ferns on our podium, there’s a good chance Patty is nearby,” said Tim Murphy in reading from Bearden’s nomination. “She brings a sparkle and elegance to everything she’s involved with and it’s the hard work and passion of volunteers like her that help to make our community so unique.”

Henry Booker

Booker is a lifelong resident of the City of Franklin and has dedicated his time and talents to helping low-income residents improve their quality of life.

After a serious heart ailment, he turned his life around. Mr. Booker now volunteers for the Franklin Housing Authority (FHA) and for the OneGenAway organization, where he picks up and delivers nutritional goods to individuals in the community that may be sick and shut-in or that may need extra assistance with providing food for their families.

“Mr. Booker believes that God took care of him so it is his mission to now take care of others so he does just that; feeding those that are hungry. This one act has changed a community of people and improved their lives tremendously,” said Tim Murphy, Franklin Tomorrow treasurer in reading from Booker’s nomination.

By assisting those in need with food items, in many cases these working families that are struggling can save a little money which moves them toward being self-sufficient.

In addition to his weekly food pickups and deliveries, he is very active in the community and with his church, West Harpeth Primitive Baptist Church, where he drives the church van.

Booker is assisting his community as they work to set up a Neighborhood Watch program. He is also proactive in the community by informing residents of low-income areas about local events that will improve their quality of life.

Alma McLemore

McLemore, a native of Franklin and a 2000 graduate of Leadership Franklin, has been involved in the community for a number of years. She served at the grassroots level of many community organizations including the Community Housing Partnership, Habitat for Humanity as a charter board member, and Franklin Tomorrow.

She has also served on several boards in the community such as WAVES, Williamson County Chamber Housing Task Force, African American Heritage Society, New Hope Academy and the City of Franklin Housing Committee. She currently serves on the Franklin Municipal Planning Commission and Williamson County Drug Court Board.

McLemore is active in her church, the Fowlkes Street Church of Christ, and is a graduate of the Franklin Police Academy.

Youth Initiative Award

“Jayce Arnette is passionate about community service. She has been involved with United Way of Williamson County’s YAC (Youth Advisory Council) for four years and she has taken the lead to recruit students for leadership and service opportunities,” said Susan Minor, Franklin Tomorrow vice president.

Arnette has been the president of the Ravenwood High School chapter the past two years, chaired executive council representing all nine high schools in the county, and is currently serving as the only youth representative on United Way’s Board of Directors. Jayce delivers Meals on Wheels to shut-ins. At Christmas, she organizes a party for children at Community Childcare, a low-income daycare.

During the summer, YAC members read to these children and do crafts. Arnette collects food for families for Thanksgiving who wouldn’t normally be able to afford a Thanksgiving meal. There United Way’s YAC group does fundraising throughout the year and at the end of the year they decide which agencies need the money the most. This past year close to $6,000 was raised and allocated to five local agencies — Graceworks, BRIDGES, Grace Medical Clinic, Refuge Center for Counseling, and WAVES. YAC’s main fundraiser was a collaborative effort with a local department store in the form of a prom fashion show. Arnette will lead the YAC group in the allocation process this year. In her four years of serving United Way, Arnette has invested approximately 300 hours in service work. She recently was presented with the “Outstanding Youth of the Year” award from United Way of Williamson County.

Ned Lea Lifetime Achievement Awards

Dr. Craig Ferrell

Lorraine Ferrell, Dr. Ferrell’s widow, was present to accept the award with her sons Aaron and Jon, who has Down’s Syndrome. Ferrell was nominated for the award by Brenda Hauk, executive director of BrightStone.

“How do you describe someone who was ‘bigger than life itself?’ Depending on who you are, and your relationship with Dr. Ferrell, there are many words that come to mind to describe Dr. Craig Ferrell,” Hauk wrote in her nomination. “He was a teacher, a physician, a coach, a husband, an avid hunter, a visionary, a leader, a founder, a traveler, a cheerleader, a lover of life, a humanitarian, a mentor, a friend, an advocate, a motivator, a champion, an inspiration, but most importantly, a father……to his sons Aaron and Jon.

“It is true that Dr. Ferrell guided BrightStone as a Board member, Board chairman, and chairman of the Songwriters Night Benefit. But his love for BrightStone’s students and his dedication to the mission ran far deeper than these titles can portray. He recognized that not all families, raising children or caring for adults with special needs, had the resources to provide and care for them in the manner in which they desire and deserve,” Hauk said.

Ed Moody

In remembering Ed Moody, nominated by the Franklin Noon Rotary Club, it was noted Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self.”

“There is not another Rotarian who always put service, community and others first more than Mr. Ed Moody. Ed Moody was ‘Service above Self’,” said Susan Minor in reading the nomination prepared by Franklin Noon Rotary President Derby Jones. “For generations, Ed Moody has been a household name in Franklin. He has left his footprint in the lives and on the hearts of all who knew him and even those who didn’t know him.”

Moody belonged to the Franklin Noon Rotary Club for two-thirds of his life, joining the club in 1952. He had perfect attendance for 60 years. It comes as no surprise that Ed Moody was named Rotarian of the Century.

Ed Moody loved the rodeo and was chairman of the Franklin Rodeo for many years. He was proud of the money raised that went back to local charities.

“Mr. Moody was a man of God, a devoted Christian who was active in his church. He used his Christian principles in every decision he made. He was a World War II Veteran, a soldier and a hero,” Jones wrote. “He was a humble man and didn’t want credit for his efforts in the community. He worked on numerous non-profits. He was the driving force in establishing the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin and Williamson County. Recently an annual community spirit award ‘Ed Moody Award for Excellence’ was named in his honor by the club.”

He served on the board of the YMCA, the Franklin Special School District, Harpeth National Bank, First Tennessee Bank and Baptist Hospital and the Williamson County Hospital before it became Williamson Medical Center. He was an active member of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce and First Baptist Church. The Civitan Club named Moody Citizen of the Year. Moody also served as president of the Franklin Noon Rotary Club 1958-59.

“Mr. Moody is missed by many in the community but he will never be forgotten. His legacy will live on in his family, his church, his business, the Franklin Noon Rotary club and through the Franklin Rodeo which he loved so much,” Jones said.

Additional sponsors for the event include Century Construction, Regent Homes, Tim & Angie Murphy, FirstBank, Buerger Moseley & Carson, Kathie Moore, State Rep. Charles Sargent, State Rep. Glen Casada, State Sen. Jack Johnson, County Commissioner Brian Beathard and wife Lisa, Middle Tennessee Electric, Franklin Kubota, and Gary Minor.