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Commission chairman honored for volunteerism

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

Henry County's commission chairman was recently honored for her volunteer work.

Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis began her term as Henry County's Commission Chairman in January 2009, and serves as co-host of Good Day Southside on SBN-TV.

"My position as chairman and co-host of [the] show allows me to assist many non-profits in getting their messages out, find volunteers, and promote events," she said. "Additionally, I introduce people with like interests to one another, in order to help the different charities to succeed and accomplish some of their goals."

Mathis' past volunteer activities include working with youth, the homeless, and the needy. She said one of her current concerns is "at-risk youth" in the community.

Mathis was among 29 women from Henry and Clayton counties who were honored during the "Legacy of Leadership" event, held in the Senate Chambers of the State Capitol on Aug. 26. The women were presented with resolutions honoring them for the contributions they make to their community.

The event was celebrated on Women's Equality Day, which coincided with the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, said Henry County officials.

Observing Women's Equality Day sends a positive message to the community, said Mathis.

"Hopefully, it serves as an encouragement for young women to pursue your dreams, [and] be the very best you can be, whatever career you find yourself in," added Mathis. "We live in the land of freedom and opportunity. Make the most of it."

Mathis, who was attending an Intergovernmental Retreat Aug. 26, and 27, in Athens, was unable to attend the ceremony at the capitol.

However, she emphasized the significant progress women's civil rights have made over the years.

"It's hard to imagine that there was a time in our nation's history when women were not allowed to vote, or serve in elected positions," said Mathis. "Great progress has been made in recognizing that women are capable of making informed choices at the polls, and can offer quality leadership in a variety of positions throughout our communities."

Sen. Gail Buckner (D-Jonesboro), one of the organizers of the event, said the program was a way to salute outstanding local women for their community service.

"Some other folks and I were talking about the work women are doing in our community," said Buckner. "We wanted to plan an event to recognize the great accomplishments by so many women."

Buckner said she, Kaye Shipley - a Henry County resident who serves on the board of the League of Women Voters - and Henry County Chamber of Commerce President Kay Pippin, conceived the idea of a recognition program earlier this year.

"We began a casual discussion about it almost six months ago," continued the senator. "Aug. 26 jumped out at me because it's Women's Equality Day."

The main requirement to be honored, said Buckner, was the recipients' participation in volunteer work.

"The thing that is so significant is while many of these women have important careers, what we really wanted to highlight was their volunteer efforts in getting things done in the community," she added.