Every community needs its leaders, women and men who bring people together and make the wheels turn.
“That’s the backbone of what this country was built on, entrepreneurs and business leaders who stood up for their community,” said Lee Highsmith, executive director for Junior Achievement of North Georgia.
For the last seven years, Junior Achievement has recognized such leaders at its annual Business Hall of Fame Gala. The fundraiser will serve nearly 8,500 students in kindergarten through high school in 13 Northeast Georgia counties, Highsmith said, “showing them the relationship between education, career and income while preparing them to be the next generation of business and community leaders.”
Saturday night’s event added three “laureates” to the Hall of Fame: Jim Mathis, Randall Frost and Paul Maney. The honorees were picked by a panel of past winners and chosen for their individual representation of the Junior Achievement core values.
Mathis: Hall is a ‘giving’ community
When asked, what makes Hall County such a great place to live, Mathis’ answer is simple: the people.
“The Hall community is really one of the most giving communities around, and that’s why we chose to live here and why it’s such a great place to live,” Mathis said.
He says Hall is a place where neighbors help each other and families live on the same road, as he and his wife do with their adult daughters Kelly and Katie.
“I’m more than honored to be a part of this community, and to be honored by this award,” he said.
Mathis is a Gainesville High School and Mercer University graduate, an Eagle Scout and a retired Army first lieutenant. He is best known for his part in bringing the 1996 Summer Olympics to Hall County and organizing thousands of volunteers.
Mathis has served in various different positions in many fields, from working as a legislative and press aide to U.S. Rep. Phil Landrum to president and CEO of the North Georgia Community Foundation.
He now serves as chairman of Gainesville/Hall ‘96, and is an active board member of both the Rabun Gap Nacoochee School System and the Georgia Humanities Council.
Junior Achievement’s award to Mathis was “because of the way in which he has used his belief in the power of partnership and collaboration to yield great results for Gainesville/Hall County.”
Randall Frost: Providing a ‘sacred duty’
Frost, an attorney, philanthropist and lifelong Georgian, says that though it feels good to be recognized for work, that is not its purpose.
“It makes you feel good to be recognized, yes,” Frost said. “But I think that everyone has a sacred duty to give back to the community that is supporting him and his family.”
For most of two decades, Frost has served as president or chairman of the Gainesville Board of Education, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Gainesville Kiwanis Clubs, The Arts Council, United Way of Hall County and YMCA Board of Directors.
“You’ve just got to be involved,” he said last week.
After serving as an artillery officer in the Army, Frost moved Gainesville in 1971 to practice law. He says he never questioned the move to Hall, and hasn’t looked back.
“It just seemed like a good fit for us, and I have never for a second regretted it,” he said.
He is managing partner at Stewart, Melvin & Frost, where he has worked since 1986. He is also attorney for Banks County, a position he has held for more than 20 years.
Junior Achievement’s honor for Frost stated: “Throughout his career, Randall’s involvement in the Gainesville community as a whole, and the organizations to which he has lent his support, have opened many doors for young people. It is his belief in the boundless potential of young people that makes Randall Frost a 2017 Northeast Georgia Hall of Fame laureate.”
Paul Maney: Starting a ‘chain reaction’
A Georgia transplant originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Maney lives by the motto, “If a community has been good to you, you gotta be good back.”
Since his retirement after 26 years with from IBM, Maney has made philanthropy his hobby, raising thousands of dollars for charities throughout Hall County. He serves as the Director of Membership of the Braselton Rotary Club, and spearheaded an effort to fund the memorial avenue of flags at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton, raising more than $117,000 for the project.
Maney remains dedicated to supporting the hospital with a “significant gift of a new emergency room” planned in the near future.
“You see, I got more and more involved with charities when I moved to Georgia,” Maney said. “The way I see it, when you step up to the plate, it starts a chain reaction with people. Helps them step up, too.”
Maney and wife Glenna are supporters of Junior Achievement, The Arts Council, the University of North Georgia and Lanier Christian Academy.
Like Frost, Maney says he never sought glory in his philanthropic work, but over the years he has awarded with a Distinguished Service Award from Gainesville State College, the Woody Stewart Philanthropy Award and two Rotarian of the Year awards.
“You don’t go looking for it, but it’s an honor when it happens,” Maney said.
When not focused on charity work, Maney and his wife are world travelers who have visited 33 countries and 49 states.
Junior Achievement’s honor stated: “Paul’s commitment to the principles of market-based economics and entrepreneurship makes him a 2017 Northeast Georgia Hall of Fame laureate.”
Also honored at the Gala were R.K. Whitehead III, receiving the 2016 Northeast Georgia Gus Whalen Rising Star Award; Katie Simmons, receiving the Educator of the Year Award; Sandy Salyers, receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award; and Christopher Davidson of Christopher’s Bridal and Tuxedo, receiving the Business Partnership of the Year Award.
For more info on Junior Achievement, visit www.georgia.ja.org.