Originally created 12/16/04

Organization honors community work



A nonprofit organization recognized and awarded community members for their achievements and service Dec. 7 at its annual meeting at the Augusta Towers Hotel and Convention Center.

Augusta-Richmond County Community Partnership for Children and Families Inc., which has joined with more than 90 organizations to address social issues, recognized eight people in five categories for their community efforts.

Alicia Sanchez, who works for the partnership, presented the outstanding youth ambassador award to A.R. Johnson Health, Science and Engineering Magnet School senior Shakeitrice Stokes, who "has supported the partnership since ninth grade and has many volunteer hours," Ms. Sanchez said.

Joe Vignati, of Georgia Psycho-logical Services, presented two awards for outstanding collaborative supporter. One went to Brian Mulherin, who "is committed to making a difference in our community," Mr. Vignati said.

The other was awarded to Dr. Cynthia Nafarrete who, Mr. Vignati said, has a long history of direct care and administering vaccines regardless of people's ability to pay.

Reta Thomas, of the Augusta Housing Authority, presented Shaquile and Marian Bey the outstanding family representative award because they "made time to attend health and educational classes and work with the partnership."

Allison Campbell received the award for outstanding collaborative supporter. She said she had been sitting there wondering who had done all the great things on the list read by presenter Mary Beth Pierucci, of Planned Parenthood.

"As (she) read the description," Ms. Campbell said, "I thought, 'Wow, they've done a lot in the community. Who is this? I need to step up to the plate.'"

Awards for outstanding family and children's advocate were given to Carol Davis and Shirley Norman.

"We've continued to work on unresolved issues, most notably funding, and have new issues, including language barriers with the increasing Hispanic population," said Robetta McKenzie, the group's director, after the awards were presented.

Improvements have been made in services for child abuse and neglect, drug use, teen pregnancy, poverty, juvenile arrests and high school diplomas, Dr. McKenzie said.

She cited several areas that need improvement: residents' access to medical care, infant mortality, low birth weight, repeat teen pregnancies, enrollment in head start programs and the number of over-age children in the third grade.

Plans to tackle the problems include revisiting and evaluating current programs and pooling resources, Dr. McKenzie said.

"To accomplish this, we've got to continue working together," she told the audience.

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.