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The Spirit of Community
Rockdale Coalition honors individuals with first scholarship and community award
Scholarship winner Sonca Pham was selected as the first recipient of the John K. Morgan scholarship of $4,000. (Left to Right) Front: John Morgan, Susan Bryceland, Sonca Pham, her parents Rang and Tong Pham. Back: Alan Jones, Mike Hutcheson - photo by Photo by Michelle Kim

The movers and shakers of the non-profit community in Rockdale County gathered to honor community-minded individuals and students at the Rockdale Coalition for Children and Family's first awards banquet on Feb. 26 at Rockdale Career Academy.

Mike and Nadine Yoder were the winners of first F. William Hughey award, named after former Coalition head Bill Hughey, The requirements were that the individual is involved in community service and demonstrates a collaborative spirit, like Hughey.

The Yoders are involved in community services such as the Lakeview Clothes Closet, which Nadine oversees, Family Promise, Rockdale County Long Term Recovery Committee for disaster relief, Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale, where they serve on the board of directors, and many other activities. 

“It’s very much of a surprise,” said Mike Yoder. “We don’t do this because of awards. We just try to get involved, and the collation and cooperation is so important. There’s so many assets left untouched, and we need to try to draw those assets to a common goal.

“The eligibility requirements for this award seem to specifically describe Mike and Nadine,” wrote Debbie Golden in the nominating application. “They not only do outstanding community service work, they also leverage their own work by encouraging others in service, leading others when needed, following when others are already leading, and lending their support to many worthwhile community service efforts, regardless of the origin of the effort.”

Sonca Pham was selected as the first recipient of the John K. Morgan scholarship of $4,000. Pham, a senior at Salem High School and intern at Flat Shoals Elementary, is planning on studying early childhood education at Kennesaw State University.

“I was nervous during my interview, so I was shocked when they told me I won the scholarship. I’m really honored and humbled,” said Pham.

Other scholarship finalists, who received $500 each, are Jaylen Gilstrap, Katherine McGuire, Joshua Norton, Jessica Reed, and Willie Torrey.

Sponsors for this year's banquet and awards were: Pratt Industries (a premium platinum sponsor); platinum sponsors Acuity Brands Lighting, Conyers Unted Methodist Church, Tim Baker of Edward Jones, Elly Dalton of  Edward Jones, St. Pius X Catholic Church, Shurett Dental Group, Snapping Shoals EMC, United Community Bank, and United Way Rockdale; silver sponsors Conyers Flower Shop, Cowan Ace Hardware, Linda Jones, Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale; bronze sponsors Discovery Point Child Development Center, Payroll Professionals of Conyers, Rockdale Mental Health Center.