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Tanner News

Tanner’s Get Healthy, Live Well Celebrates Its Volunteers

In west Georgia, there’s a cadre of community members working tirelessly and selflessly to make the region a healthier place to live, learn, work, play and pray by lending their time and expertise to Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well.

Get Healthy, Live Well honored those volunteers at its annual Volunteer Recognition Celebration, “You Mean the World to Us,” held earlier this month at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton.

Following an invocation by Pastor Richard Dobbs of Overcomers Christian Center in Villa Rica,  Daniel Jackson, chair of the Tanner Medical Center Inc. Board of Directors, saluted the volunteers for their service.

“Every person in this room wants to make a difference,” said Jackson. “Having watched Get Healthy, Live Well from its formation, we have made a difference. We are making a difference. We will continue to make a difference. Thank you for what you do.”

The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Michelle Lewis from the University of Georgia Extension Office, who was honored for going above and beyond to support Get Healthy, Live Well’s mission. As a Get Healthy, Live Well Cooking Matters instructor, Lewis has worked with young people at God’s Farm in Temple to teach them how to plan and prepare healthy meals on a budget. She has also taught seniors, college students and housing authority residents how to improve their health through shopping for and preparing healthy meals.

Over the years, Lewis has taught nine Cooking Matters courses and helped train new instructors.

“She has a servant’s heart and is always thinking about how to help others in the community,” said Patricia Mitchell, community outreach coordinator at Get Healthy, Live Well. “She has told me, ‘It’s what I do. I serve people.’ She serves our community in so many ways, and always with a smile and thoughtful words. She is a champion for getting healthy and living well, and for encouraging others to do the same.”

The “Rising Star” awards were presented to Eddie Holtz of Bowdon Area United Christian Ministries Inc. and Debbie Neal, a local business owner, for helping raise awareness about an important public health issue affecting the community.

Holz has made it his mission to provide free and healthy food options to the underserved community in west Georgia. His efforts include the creation of the First Friday Pop-Up Market, which is held on the first Friday of every month in Bowdon. The market’s tagline is “Take what you want. Pay what you can. Eat what you take.”

“Since April, this program has served more than 150 families with fresh fruits and vegetables that they otherwise would not obtain,” said Gina Brandenburg, community health projects coordinator at Get Healthy, Live Well.

This summer, Holtz is working with local gardeners to “plant a row for the hungry,” which will allow others in the community to be involved with the ministry.

Neal recently assisted Get Healthy, Live Well in its efforts to deliver education and training about substance misuse and the importance of naloxone — a medication widely known by the name brand Narcan — to treat someone who has overdosed on a narcotic. She also raised funds to supply first responders in Haralson County with their initial doses of naloxone.

“The passion that this person brings to our community and to people suffering from the grips of addiction is literally saving lives,” said Alicia Michael, rural health outreach coordinator at Get Healthy, Live Well. “And her work doesn’t stop there. She is a consistent presence in our community, offering support to dozens of non-profits who work to feed, clothe and shelter those in need.”

The “Get Healthy, Live Well Champion” award was given to Tanner Health System board member Gelon Wasdin, who has long been passionate about making the community a healthier place. Wasdin, who helped create Tanner’s community health division, is currently serving on the Healthy Haralson Coalition Leadership Team and has been an integral part of the initiative’s early success by participating in the prioritization meeting and co-chairing the substance misuse task force.

Wasdin has also actively recruited and engaged numerous community members in his efforts to improve overall health outcomes in west Georgia.

“He is passionate about doing high-level work to impact the health of the community and personally demonstrates his passion for health as an avid bike rider and health champion,” said Brandenburg.

The volunteers who were recognized for their hard work and leadership were given beautiful handcrafted plant holders by the Blake House. Others are invited to join Get Healthy, Live Well in its efforts to improve the community’s health. Visit www.GetHealthyLiveWell.org and complete an online application to become a volunteer.