Heart and Soul Gala Honorees


The Heart and Soul of May Street Gala was held on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at the Mighty Eighth Air Force National Museum in Pooler, GA. The Gala is an annual fundraiser to benefit the West Broad Street YMCA that is located at 1110 May Street. It also serves as a platform to honor local Heritage Heroes who have enhanced the community through their educational involvement, entrepreneurship, and/or civic and social activism and outstanding individuals or organizations who have exemplified unselfish and dedicated service to the YMCA through the donation of their time and/or resources.

This year two individuals were recipients of the Heritage Hero Award for “Community Activism and Service”. Dr. Priscilla D. Thomas was recognized for her many years of community activism and service as a retired teacher/principal, 26- year Chatham County Commissioner, founder of Summer Bonanza and Chatham County Youth Commission, unsung hero in the Civil Rights Movement, pioneer in the TV Media for minority and women as a Producer Host, and her overall work in multiple programs to make life better for all citizens in the Savannah-Chatham County area and beyond. Amanda Hollowell was recognized for her “Community Activism and Service” as a volunteer on the Board of Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transportation and the Technology Chair, a standing member of the Savannah Black Heritage Festival Committee, member of Georgia Shift, member of Women Must Vote, a grassroots organization in Savannah, GA, a volunteer for Planned Parenthood of Coastal Georgia, co-organizer for Women’s March Savannah, and Georgia Chapter organizer for 9 to 5. She is an Education Specialist for LifeLink of Georgia.

The May Street Volunteer award for “Dedicated Service and Support” was presented to Henry Garrison for his many hours of volunteer service at the West Broad Street YMCA and for his financial donations. Mr. Garrison is a Retired Army Staff Sergeant and volunteering is a part of his life style. At the West Broad Street YMCA, he has assisted with painting several areas of the building, provided carpet for a classroom, provided a Writing and Speaking event for the Summer Program for children ages 10 to 14 with each child participating being given a monetary gift and family and friends that attended the culminating program were treated to a catered dinner, all funded by Mr. Garrison. He regularly visits the “Y” and assists with whatever needs to be done from picking up trash to keeping the fitness room neat and clean. The Urban Mentoring Academy was presented a Certificate of Appreciation for their volunteer service at the “Y”.

Two members of the West Broad Street YMCA staff were recognized for years of service with a 5-year pin. They are Mrs. Sherrell Robinson who has worked as a Sumer Camp Supervisor for over five years and Ms. Renee Howell who has served as an Assistant Pre-K Teacher for five years.

The featured artist for the Gala was Vocalist J. J. Collins accompanied by Kelly Blackmarr on keyboard. The Mistress of Ceremonies was WSAV Anchor, Kim Gusby. A delicious meal was enjoyed by all catered by Miss Sophie’s of the Museum.

Special thanks to our sponsors: Canady, Richbourg & Woodward, LLP, The Polote Corporation, Tremont Temple Baptist Church, First African Baptist Church, and Mayor Pro- Tem Carolyn H. Bell.

Thanks to everyone who purchased a ticket, made a donation, or rendered a service including the Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. – Savannah Chapter for decorations, Top Tens of America – Savannah for serving as ushers, Somi Benson-Jaja as photographer and Raymond Butler as DJ.

The West Broad Street YMCA was founded in 1942 to serve African American soldiers who were denied services elsewhere. For over seventy years the West Broad Street YMCA has served Savannah and is one of five remaining Heritage Ys in the country.

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