Ruth Crawford's life mission is to return to the community what it has given to her.
"I had received so much as a child with nothing and was still able to graduate from Paine (College). I felt that I owed the community so much. I had a debt, and I was paying on it every year," Ms. Crawford said. "The debt is paying back something that someone has given to you. I felt that I owed it to the community."
A retired Richmond County teacher, Ms. Crawford founded the Shiloh Comprehensive Community Center in 1977.
Working without pay, she provided services to the community such as food, clothing, shelter, education, and assisted with rehabilitating first-time criminal offenders. In recognition of her contributions to the community, Ms. Crawford was honored Thursday by the Augusta Exchange Club with its highest honor, the Book of Golden Deeds award.
"It's very humbling, and it's very rewarding to know that there are people out there like Ruth Crawford who have a heart of gold and have a very strong determination to see things through," said John Weigle, the club's immediate past president.
During the lunch ceremony, the exchange club presented Ms. Crawford with a book of letters written to her by family and friends and a plaque from the Exchange Club and announced that it will make a contribution to the Ruth B. Crawford scholarship fund at Paine College.
She was also presented with a proclamation from Mayor Deke Copenhaver by a representative from his office.
Ms. Crawford said she couldn't have made a difference without the support of the community.
"When I opened the center, I had a seed. You all provided the rich soil, and I planted that seed," Ms. Crawford told the audience. "And I would like for you to see what Shiloh is today. I'm very proud of it, and I know we have saved so many boys and girls."
She then challenged them to stay involved in the community.
"You have added fertilizer to that soil to make this center grow. The seed was planted. Keep planting seeds, and your reward will come," she said.
Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.