Once a year the Tom A. Finch Community YMCA holds an awards dinner to honor a select group of individuals who make a positive impact on the lives of others.

On Jan. 30 at Memorial United Methodist Church, the Tom A. Finch YMCA recognized 10 people and a business at its annual awards dinner for helping promote the spirit of community and making Thomasville a 2013 All-American City.

“The Y would not continue to be doing what it does and meeting needs without the volunteers, the donors and certainly the members,” said Tommy Hodges, executive director of the Tom A. Finch YMCA. “One night a year, we're all under the tent at the same time, sharing stories a lot of people wouldn't know. We take this chance to thank some people and recognize people for all their hard work.”

Board member Harold Kennedy received the Thurston Bowman Distinguished Service Award for his constant dedication to supporting the Y and all of its community endeavors. Receiving an award named after a man who has been an integral part of the YMCA family for nearly 40 years proved to be a special honor for Kennedy.

“Anything that is reflective of what Thurston has done for the Y and this community is an honor to be bestowed upon,” Kennedy said. “It's just fun. There are so many great people. It's a home away from home. Until you get involved you don't really know what the mission of the Y is. To see the results of it is great.”

Kennedy's commitment to seeing things through made him a worthy recipient of this year's award.

“Harold has been a great friend for a long time and a great board member since Day One,” said Hodges. “He has taken his responsibilities as seriously as anybody I've ever worked with. He does things in a very professional, caring and thoughtful way. He puts his money where his mouth and he'll show up and get his hands dirty to support us in any way possible.”

Jesse Crooks' refusal to let a disability stand in his way of making a difference earned him this year's Spirit of Inspiration Award.

“I'm grateful,” Crooks said. “I'm not deserving of the award. It's the highlight of my career and a shining moment.”

Ron Jones' ability to brighten the day of other YMCA members with his positive attitude and bright smile earned him the Spirit of Fun Award. Jones, a former YMCA board member, is known as a big jokester who brings joy to those around him.

“It feels good being recognized,” said Jones. “I just try to be myself. I like good people and the Y has a lot of good people. We fellowship while we work out and we get to know each other's ins and out and family life. It's a good community-type family atmosphere. I like to help out where I can and motivate and inspire. At the same time, people are motivating and inspiring me.”

Tommy Millar and Jason Stone received Coaches Awards for their roles in helping teach young YMCA member valuable life lessons and being role models for their athletes.

Matthew Hughes commitment to young people earned him the Service to Youth Award. Frank Denton of Good Housekeeper received the Community Partner Award and First Bank was recognized with the Red Triangle Award.

Gayle Batten was honored with the Spirit of Caring Award. Rodney Brooks and Camille Hunt were recognized with this year's Chairperson's Awards.


Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.



Jesse Crooks … Spirit of Inspiration Award

Harold Kennedy ... Thurston Bowman Distinguished Service Award

Ron Jones … Spirit of Fun Award.

Tommy Millar … Coach  Award

Jason Stone  … Coach Award

Matthew Hughes … Service to Youth Award

Frank Denton of Good Housekeeper … Community Partner Award

First Bank … Red Triangle Award.

Gayle Batten … Spirit of Caring Award.

Rodney Brooks … Chairman's Award

Camille Hunt … Chairman's Award