Hancock Chamber President Cathy Wilson, who was a Top 10 Outstanding Citizen in 2012, announced the top ten outstanding citizens for 2017 for their contributions to improving quality of life in Hancock County. The individuals to be honored during the Chamber’s Annual Salute to Business & Industry Awards Gala were selected from a field of 18 nominees. The Chamber membership will select one of the top ten citizens to be announced during the Gala as Citizen of the Year. Known as the local version of the Academy Awards, The Chamber’s Annual Gala will be on Thursday, August 24th from 5:30pm-8pm at Hollywood Casino – Gulf Coast.To find out more and reserve your seat or table for the Gala, go to www.hancockchamber.org.
Raymunda Barnes is assistant vice president of Pearl River Community College’s Hancock Center. He is a member of the Bay St. Louis Rotary Club and serves as chairman of the Hancock Chamber Education Committee.
Barnes and the committee members focus on the issues that affect community education as well as promote educational outcomes in a variety of ways. Committee projects include the annual Chamber Senior Appreciation Breakfast, the Excel by 5 early learning program, Bookworms Reading Program and the annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner. Each May, scholarships are awarded to one high school senior at each of the four high schools in the county.
Barnes believes the committee’s programs are critical to making sure our teachers and students have the resources, support and encouragement they need to reach their highest potential.
Barnes was recently recognized as a One Coast Community Leader for his passion and commitment to the continuous improvement ofteaching and learning, and was described as a true professional with a big vision for providing quality higher education and services to Hancock County citizens.
David Bassett is a certified public accountant who has volunteered his time and expertise serving as treasurer of the Hancock Community Development Foundation (HCDF) for 10 years.
The Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 public charity that sponsors and supports community projects to stimulate job creation, foster small business growth and support workforce development. HCDF acts as an umbrella organization for 20 non-profit causes ranging from education to historic preservation.
The Foundation’s Job Generation Fund has worked with 44 companies where 39 jobs were created or retained.
Bassett also oversees programs that promote business growth through grant research, development and administration, and coordinates charitable fundraising for educational and community programs.
He also is a member of the Bay St. Louis Rotary Club and was twice a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow.
Elise Deano, Hancock County Youth Court Judge, is chairman of Foster the Cause, a fund sponsored by the Hancock Community Development Foundation.
Recognizing the importance of social activities for youth she sees in Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts, she has made it a priority to find community and enrichment activities for them to get involved in.
She recently adopted the idea from a Michigan adult court of having the youth establish and maintain a community garden. Launched in 2016, Ruth’s Roots was established on Court Street on property where the late Ruth Thompson and her husband operated Ruth’s Cakery.
The garden project is opening up a world of positive activities for the youth as they learn about building, marketing, economics, farm-to-table food preparation, and socializing by spending time with adults who enjoy sharing their knowledge with them.
Judge Deano feels the garden has helped the kids learn about themselves and their potential.
Susan Duffy is the Concierge at the Hancock County Visitors Center. Her broad knowledge of the area and genuine enthusiasm for the job represent the county well as she greets every visitor at the Historic Depot. Susan was recognized among the top 50 travel and tourism professionals nominated by their peers during the 2017 National Travel and Tourism Week observation for going above and beyond in service to travelers visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
She takes to heart the importance of tourism to the local economy and shares with visitors information and insight into local attractions, sights, businesses and destinations. She continues to get high marks from those she comes in contact with in the local tourism industry as well as the tourists who benefit from her experience and hospitality.
Craig Foster is a financial advisor with Edward Jones who opened his investment business 30 years ago.
During those three decades, in addition to growing his business, Foster has dedicated himself to taking an active role in the Hancock Chamber and the Rotary Club as well as community Carnival clubs and the newly formed Lions Club. He was a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and is an advocate and sponsor of CASA of Hancock County activities as well as many high school and youth league baseball, soccer and volleyball teams.
Foster is a tireless fundraiser and community supporter who remains committed to making Hancock County a better place for its residents for generations to come.
Madella and Blu Jordan are known for working tirelessly and with great passion in numerous organizations in the county. The Jordans lost their son Christian in 2011 and since then they have made the commitment to honor his life and memory through service to the children of Hancock County by establishing the Christian Blu Jordan Foundation, working with The Hancock Hawk Foundation.
The Foundation donates $4,000 in athletic scholarships ($2,000 for a male student and $2,000 for a female student) annually. The Hancock Hawk Foundation provides monetary support through fundraising efforts to all athletic programs under the guidance of the Hancock County School District.
Madella serves on the Hancock County Fair Board and has led board work for breast cancer awareness. She volunteers at Hancock High School, and the couple spearheads the Hawk Foundation’s main annual fundraiser, Blitzen on the Bayou. The Jordans also participate in the planning and coordination of the Bay St. Louis Conquer Chiari (a neurological disorder) Walk Across America .
Paul Montjoy is chairman of Keep Diamondhead Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and the Hancock Chamber Beautification Committee. Through a variety of programs and initiatives with volunteers, and community partners, municipalities, elected officials, and individuals, Keep Diamondhead Beautiful efforts are beautifying Diamondhead. The result makes the city more desirable to potential businesses and homeowners and makes residents proud to live in Diamondhead.
Among the many beautification projects Montjoy has overseen are the Avenue of Oaks, where more than 50 oaks were planted, and the landscaped entrance to the city as well as welcome signs.
Diamondhead has been named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management. And students from the Camp Shelby Youth Challenge Academy in Hattiesburg have partnered with the Keep Diamondhead Beautiful Committee to assist with pruning trees and shrubs around City Hall. They were also given the task of adding a fresh layer of mulch around trees planted near the gateway to the city, the I-10 Interchange.
Christina Richardson, PhD, is a management consultant for non-profit organizations and a writer and she is primarily involved in volunteer work. Her goal is to stay busy, enjoy life and to be useful in her new hometown of Bay St. Louis. She volunteers with the Bay-Waveland Garden Club, the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre, Friends of the Hancock Animal Shelter as president, the Master Gardeners of Mississippi program and the Hancock County Historical Society. Richardson also is an artist, is a member of The Arts of Hancock County and is a freelance writer for the The Shoofly Magazine.
She recently added St. Vincent de Paul to her volunteer list and she is the chair of the Hancock County Advisory Board for the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence.
Susan Stevens is retired from the health care industry and is a dedicated volunteer with several organizations. She is a member of the board of directors of the Hancock Community Development Foundation, serves on the Hancock County Leadership Steering Committee and is vice president of the Hancock Medical Center Board of Trustees.
For the past two years, Stevens has been a volunteer at the Hancock County Food Pantry where she conducts interviews with families. She handles certification, which is an annual process and involves looking at the client’s documents and verifying their information. She interviews about 20 to 30 families per day and says she finds the volunteer work very rewarding and humbling.
She also is active in Christ Episcopal Church. She was instrumental in creating the Hancock County Alliance for Health, a charitable organization through the Church that provides access to medications for people who cannot afford their prescription medicine. The program has helped sustain the lives of hundreds of residents for more than 32 years.
Chuck Underwood is co-owner of Treasures of the Bay/Breezy Porches Guesthouse in Waveland. For the past two years, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Hancock Chamber. He is coordinator of the annual Waveland Christmas Bazaar at the Ground Zero Hurricane Museum. Underwood has served on the city of Waveland’s sign ordinance task force and is a past member of the Waveland Community Coalition.
Underwood’s community involvement shows that he is truly dedicated to the City of Waveland and its residents. He believes in the importance of joining Waveland’s businesses together to promote each other and encourage the growth of more businesses. As Underwood said, “We support our locals because our locals support us”.