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Boys Scouts dinner to honor 3 local philanthropists
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American Values Dinner

  • When: 6 p.m. Thursday
  • Where: Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville
  • FYI: RSVP by today at 800-699-8806

The Northeast Georgia Council for the Boy Scouts of America will host the annual American Values Dinner to honor three local heroes and support scouting.

Gene Beckstein, Gus Whalen and Nell Wiegand will be honored March 12 with the Ralph Cleveland Distinguished Citizen Award.

Terry Whitaker, senior district executive for the Boy Scouts, said the honorees were chosen for their contributions to their community.

"It’s not necessarily what they’ve done in the scouting community," Whitaker said. "Service above self, really."

Whitaker said Wiegand is one of few female honorees.

"There may be one or two others at the most," he said.

Wiegand was among the first volunteers when Hall County Hospital opened its doors in 1951. She worked in the Bright Spot, the gift shop and snack bar that featured sandwiches, cookies and cakes made in the homes of volunteers.

In 1986, she became the founding chairwoman of The Medical Center Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Northeast Georgia Medical Center and Health System.

She also served on the Hospital Authority board from 1975 to 1992. She served on the Northeast Georgia Medical Center board for eight years and founded the advisory board at the medical center.

Beckstein is the founder of Good News at Noon, an outreach to the homeless and hungry. The program originally was operated out of the community building at Melrose Apartments. It now has a building on Davis Street that has a shelter with 13 beds for the homeless and an after-school program that provides a safe place to study for 90 children.

Good News at Noon was the first home of the Good News Clinic, a free medical and dental clinic that now operates independently of Beckstein’s mission.

Whalen is the grandson of E.K. Warren, founder of the Warren Featherbone Co., which manufactured children’s clothing in Gainesville for many years. A longtime civic leader in Gainesville, Whalen is the founder of Featherbone Communiversity, the former clothing factory that now houses the nursing school of Brenau University, Interactive Neighborhood for Kids and the Manufacturing Development Center of Lanier Technical College.

The annual American Values Dinner is a primary fundraiser for the Northeast Georgia Council, Boy Scouts of America. Reservations for the dinner cost $250 per person or $2,500 for a table of 10. The event is co-chaired by local community leaders Kurt Hansen and Scott McGarity.

Whitaker said the keynote speaker is local businessman John Addison, co-chief executive officer of Primerica Financial Services.

"He’s — from what I understand — an amazing speaker," Whitaker said.

Whitaker said he hopes people will leave the event inspired.

"They mainly come to show respect and honor the three chosen honorees, come to show their support for them and their support the local Boy Scouting program as well," Whitaker said. "And leave motivated to go out and do more for the community themselves."

The American Values Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. March 12 at the Chattahoochee Country Club. Reservations are required.

Contact Whitaker at the Northeast Georgia Council at 800-699-8806 or for more information.

Harris Blackwood contributed to this report.

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