Unsung Heroes make big contributions

From the Editors

The editors and staffs of the Jackson Progress-Argus, Henry Daily Herald and Clayton News Daily knew there were plenty of people out there in the communities the newspapers serve, who give of themselves selflessly, day in and day out, with little or no recognition for the good they do.

But the three people who are "winners" of our Unsung Heroes designation are truly super-volunteers, who go above and beyond even what many of us here had imagined.

And none of them does what he does for recognition or accolades. They do it because it needs doing, and that's the kind of people they are: They fill needs, help others, get a little rest, then get up and do it all again the next day.

Our communities are unquestionably better because of each of them.

Two of our three Unsung Heroes are from Henry County -- one lives in McDonough and the other in Locust Grove. The third is from Clayton County. He lives in Riverdale. But the scope of their generosity and dedicated service is not confined to the neighborhoods where they live.

Our top "winner" is Bob Langley, of Locust Grove, who was nominated by Lisa Cockerham, of the American Cancer Society. Langley, she said, "has been a Road to Recovery Driver for the American Cancer Society for over 16 years ... arranging rides and driving cancer patients, to and from, their radiation and chemotherapy appointments.

"Bob spends between 9 and 12 hours a day going between doctors' offices in his vehicle. Mr. Langley is a volunteer and his time, gas and the use of his vehicle, are a donation from him to the American cancer Society. Mr. Langley spends a lot of his personal money in order to provide cancer patients rides, to and from, appointments in Clayton, Henry, Spalding and Fayette counties, and occasionally, he will drive patients in Coweta and South Fulton."

Bob Langley lost his wife to cancer, and decided he wanted to help others. He has worn out two cars already, and is well on his way to wearing out a third. He said he had 359,000 miles on the first car he used to transport cancer patents, when it gave out; 228,000 on the second car, and now has 216,000 on his current car.

Our two deserving runners-up are Bob Leatherwood, of Riverdale, and Val Hemozkiy, of McDonough.

Leatherwood was nominated by Mike Trimble, of Riverdale, who wrote that Leatherwood "has had an outreach ministry in Riverdale for the last 16 years. He picks up donated food from Publix on Saturdays and distributes it to the poor and hungry. He also collects clothes, furniture and household goods for the needy and less fortunate ... He also helps people feed their pets when in need. This super-volunteer has spent his personal money many times to help others, and has housed the homeless on his personal property until they could find housing. Recently, he was told of a woman living in her truck in the back of a cemetery with her little dog ... He felt obligated to go visit and check on her. Now, she is living in a more stable environment ... Mr. Leatherwood is a very dedicated, generous and valuable member of our community ... "

Val Hemozkiy, of McDonough, was nominated by William Armstrong, also of McDonough, who wrote that Hemozkiy "works four days a week obtaining food for Mission Forest Park, a ministry of First Baptist Church of Forest Park, which feeds 200-225 people twice a month. The people who attend also receive a bag of groceries. This involves making trips to the Atlanta Food Bank and other sources to procure the food products, keeping the inventory, bagging the groceries, and myriad other duties.

"While doing this work, he has had surgery to replace both knees, but this has not slowed him down. He does all of this without compensation and with no official title. Mr. Hemozkiy loves God and people with a pure heart, and everything he does is based on this love.

"He also helps other food ministries obtain food for their pantries. Each Tuesday, he goes to Kroger to pick up food for the Love Ministries of Henry County and delivers it to their Mission House. Also, he has helped obtain food for the food program at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church ..."

For being our "top" volunteer, Bob Langley will receive premium tickets to NASCAR's Saturday and Sunday races, during the big Labor Day weekend event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sept. 4th and 5th, as well as VIP Suite passes for the Saturday race, so he can enjoy an insider's view of events.

Our runners-up -- Val Hemozkiy and Bob Leatherwood -- will each receive two prized tickets to the races on both days.

This "competition" was intense, since all of those nominated -- in addition to our top choices -- are truly dedicated public servants, who often put the needs of others before their own. Therefore, the newspapers will be rewarding each of them with a gift, too, a token of appreciation, just to say: "Well done, and thank you for all you do."