While being honored for their service to the community, two local leaders reflected on the loved ones they’ve lost and the community that has given them strength.
The Rotary Club of Gainesville presented its Man and Woman of the Year awards to two community leaders Monday night at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville.
The awards are presented annually to men and women for their achievements, leadership and service to the Gainesville and Hall County communities.
In honor of her passion for service, the Woman of the Year Award went Haydeé Anderson of Gainesville.
While presenting Anderson with the award, Doug Carter, Rotarian and friend of Anderson, said she has spent her career in Hall County providing a voice to others.
Not only did she and her late husband, Dave Anderson, found Gainesville’s only Spanish-language newspaper, Anderson worked as a Spanish teacher for a number of years and as an interpreter in the Hall County court system.
She also has served on the boards for The Hall County Boys & Girls Clubs, Rape Response, Lanier Technical College and as a member of Vision 2030 and The American Red Cross.
“Haydeé has not only helped the Hispanic community but she has helped so many agencies in our community just through volunteering her time,” said Martha Nesbitt, past president of The Rotary Club of Gainesville.
Anderson said she was completely surprised to learn that she won the award.
Originally from Lima, Peru, Anderson moved to Gainesville more than 30 years ago. She said her mother and father dreamed of the day their children would live in “that great nation of the United States.”
She said she serves the community because it is her home.
Since arriving in Gainesville, she said she’s been met with open arms and it was that support that has led to her success.
“This is home. I’m hoping that the rest of the people that are coming here will be a part of this,” Anderson said.
Frank Norton Jr. presented the Man of the Year award to Sen. Butch Miller. Norton said it was Miller’s “roll-up-your-sleve, can-do attitiude” that earned him the award.
Miller has been actively involved in Challenged Child and Friends and worked to help build The Field of Dreams, an athletic field for children with disabilities, at Alberta Banks Park in Flowery Branch. Miller was recognized for giving his time and efforts to help children at many other community organizations including Eagle Ranch, the Hall County YMCA and Edmondson- Telford Center for Children.
Miller said he “could have been knocked over with a feather” after hearing his name announced for the award.
He said he was both honored and humbled to be recognized.
Miller wiped away a tear as he thanked the community for its support over the years, especially after the loss of his oldest son, Cole Miller, in 2001.
He said there were moments when he was broken, but the “community dusted me off and gave me the courage and strength to keep going.”
Miller said it is his goal to encourage others as he has been encouraged.
“I want to encourage others to know that no matter what your dream is, don’t let others steal your dream,” Miller said. “Don’t let others discourage you, when you know in your heart what is right. Stand by your convictions.”