The Gainesville Kiwanis Club, a youth-oriented service group, honored two Gainesville residents for civic engagement at its annual awards banquet this week.
Gainesville attorney Abb Hayes Jr. was selected as this year’s recipient of the John W. Jacobs Jr. Youth Service Award. Katherine Jones from Gainesville High School received the John C. Thompson Award, given to the top Key Club member in the county.
The Youth Service Award was presented Tuesday at the 89th Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet. It was in recognition of Hayes’ contribution to several organizations and events, many with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County. Hayes has been a board member for the clubs since 1998.
“It’s joining a great list of past winners,” he said Thursday.
The Kiwanis Club conspires with family members to keep winners in the dark about the award, and Hayes said he was surprised by the honor.
“It was a surprise, and my family was there. It was great,” he said.
Hayes practices law with the Gainesville firm of Hulsey, Oliver & Mahar, and is married to Heather Hayes. They have two children, daughter Sara, 18, and son Andy, 15.
Hayes said it was especially heartwarming to be recognized by the organization that spurred his own sense of civic duty as a teen.
“I guess the best thing about receiving this award is that I was very active in the Key Club at Gainesville High School, and Kiwanis is the sponsor of the Key Club,” he said. “That’s what got me in to having a sense of community service.”
One exhibit of that support is the $1,000 scholarship furnished by the organization for the Key Club honoree. Jones was presented with her big check at the banquet, and said she plans to attend the University of Georgia.
Hayes said he appreciated Kiwanis for bringing to attention the work of the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“Anytime something happens that calls attention to the Boys & Girls Clubs, that’s something that makes me very happy,” he said.
Attorney Edward Hartness, a past Kiwanis Club president and head of the selection committee on the Youth Service Award, said Hayes stood out in a group of 10 nominees because of both the “quantity and quality” of his service.
And while his dedication to the Boys & Girls Clubs stands out, it was one of many recognizable service activities, he added.
“He’s also been very active with the Gainesville High School athletics,” Hartness said. “He’s coached — before he had children — little league basketball. He’s led numerous fundraising efforts for First United Methodist Church.”
It’s not the first time Hayes has won a communitywide service award. He was named the Young Man of the Year by the Gainesville Jaycees in 2003.