The Savannah Branch NAACP held its 34th Annual Freedom Fund Awards Banquet last Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Savannah. The Awards Banquet honored Mr. Joe Murray Rivers and Mr. Russ Abolt. Their names are added to the 2014 Freedom Fund Honor Roll of Honor of distinguished citizens and organizations whose service to humanity and whose devotion to the cause of human freedom is recognized during the Annual Freedom Fund Awards Banquet.
Dr. Priscilla Thomas and Col. George Bowen presented the Freedom Fund Award and a special Unites States Marine Corp. trophy to Mr. Russ Abolt. Mr. Abolt served as Chatham County Manager from 1988 – 2014. From 1966-1969 he received a commission in the United States Marine Corps as an Artillery Officer. He served 13 months in the Republic of Vietnam near the Demilitarized Zone and attained the rank of Captain. Mr. Abolt has served the Chatham County community well. His affiliations include United Way, Casey Foundation – Youth Futures; CUTS Policy Committee, Executive Committee for Vision 20/20. He credits much of his success to his wife Diane who has supported him through all of his endeavors. Mrs. Diane Abolt was also recognized with a bouquet of flowers.
Mr. James Green presented the Freedom Fund Award to Mr. Joe Murray Rivers,Jr. Mr. Rivers has served as the District 2 representative on the Board of Commissioners of Chatham County since 1985. During his tenure, he became the Board’s acknowledged leader on the public transit, health care for the poor, vocal proponent of increased minority participation in purchasing and in employment and supporter of minority and small business development. For his work on behalf of counties throughout Georgia, Mr. Rivers received the distinguished Emory Greene Award from the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia in recognition of his leadership on behalf of local government. Nowhere can his leadership be seen in more real results than in public transit. Mr. Rivers served as chairman of the County wide Transit Task Force in 1985, which championed the restructuring of transit. The Joe Murray Rivers, Jr. Intermodal Transit Center is the culmination of a transportation dream more than 15 years in the making. It is named for Joe Murray Rivers, Jr. a staunch transit advocate. Mr. Murray was born in Savannah and a graduate of A. E. Beach High School. Savannah Branch NAACP President made a special presentation to Rev. Matthew Southall Brown, Jr. , Pastor Emeritus of St John Baptist Church, “The Mighty Fortress” for his many years of dedication to this community.
Recognition and Presentation of Life Member Plaques were presented by Mr. Scott and Mr. Richard Shinhoster.
Mr. Karlis Badger provided the music and Ms. Kim Gusby, WSAV News Anchor presided. Photos from the evening can be viewed at savannahtribune.com, click on photo gallery.