Eight local “unsung heroes” — Chris Carey, Ali Freeman, Ruth Forrester, Randy Quick, Evelyn Hamilton, Coosa Valley Credit Union, Darlington School and Board of Governor’s Honoree, Dr. J. Paul Ferguson — have been selected as the recipients of the 2015 Heart of the Community Awards of Honor.

These eight honorees will be recognized on Feb. 14 at the 29th annual “Affair of the Heart.”

The theme for this year is “Loving Hearts, Helping Hands.”

These awards are sponsored each year by Redmond Regional Medical Center and produced by the heart of the Community Board of Governors.

Tickets are available www.theheartofthecommunity.com or by calling Wanda Whitten at 706 802-3924.

Dr. Paul Ferguson, Board of Governors recipient

A native of Waycross, Dr. Ferguson received B.A. and M.D. degrees from Emory University and was a surgical intern and a neurosurgery resident at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. He served in the U.S. Army Special Forces as a Captain in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and numerous other military awards.

He practiced medicine for over 30 years with 26 of those in Rome/Floyd County.  He is a retired neurosurgeon and retired President/CEO of Harbin Clinic.

His community activities include:

-    Board of Directors of Northwest Georgia Technical College

-    Board of Trustees of the Technical College System

-    Chairman of Advisory Committee to the Northwest

Georgia Medical College of Georgia

-    Education Committee of South Rome Redevelopment Corporation

-    Future Industries Initiative of Greater Rome chamber of Commerce

-    Past President Rome Rotary Club

-    Trustee Emeritus of Berry College

-    Received  the Dale Threadgill  Award for Leadership Georgia

-    Distinguished Service Award-Northwest Council of Boy Scouts of America

-    Distinguished Service Award  Rome YMCA

-    Lifetime Honorary Memberships from Chamber of Commerce and Floyd Medical Center

-    Doctor of the Year for Floyd County in 1979

-    Advisory Committee-Rome City Schools

A Heart of the Community Award recipient in 2000, he has two sons, Jay and Drew, and is a grandfather to five.

Ruth Price Forrester

Ruth is a native of Rome and a graduate of Pepperell High School. Nominated by:  Ansley Saville and Sylvia Lanier , they state “Ruth is a giver to her family and her community — not a taker — she is the one of the wonderful heroes that make our community a wonderful place.  She is a caregiver, a make you feel good giver. A Heart of the Community.”

Her activities include:

-    Member of Rome First United Methodist Church

-    Member of Seven Hills Garden Club and Rome Federated Garden Clubs

-    Friends of the Library (FOL) volunteer

-    Board member of Network Day Service Center, Inc

-    Co-Chair of building the Helen Cobb Therapy Garden by the Rome Federated Garden

-    University of Georgia-Floyd county Extension Master Gardner Volunteer

-    Chieftain’s Boxwood Rejuvenation Project

-    Chiaha Native Plant Sale

-    The Forum Planting Project

-    ECO Center Native Plant Garden

-    Member of the Xavier Chapter of the DAR

-    Junior Service League /Chieftain’s Herb and Plant Sale

-    Advisor to Maplewood East Homeowners Association Board


She and her husband, Ben,  are the parents of two daughters, Dawn Forrester Irmscher and Laura Forrester Gelfand and the grandparents of four grandsons.

Evelyn Hamilton

A native of Rome and a graduate of Main Elementary, Middle School and Main High School, Evelyn was one of three students who integrated Berry College in 1964. She graduated from Berry with a B.S. degree in Home Economics in 1969 and began working that same year with the State of Georgia, Floyd County Department of Family and Children Services where she retired after 34 years of employment.

She is single, never married, no children, but is blessed to have nieces and nephews in her life who she loves like they were her own.  Her life is filled with numerous activities which include:

-    Active member of Callahan Street Church of Christ

-    Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Rome Alumnae Chapter

-    Habitat for Humanity

-    Member of  AARP Local chapter 4021

-    NAACP

-    Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission

-    Rome Colored/Main High School Reunion Committee

-    Rome/Floyd County African American Historical Society

-    Blossom Hill Club

-    Grands who Care(Mercy Care)

-    Berry College African American Alumni Association

-    Kelsey-Aycock Burrell Center Board of Directors

Coosa Valley Credit Union

Beginning in 2012 the Heart of the Community Foundation began recognizing a business for what they give back in service to the community.

This year two businesses have been selected—Coosa Valley Credit Union and Darlington School.

Their community service philosophy is “People before profit. To help physically and financially support local charities and programs for the betterment of all who live, work, worship or attend school in the Northwest Georgia community.”

Community Service Projects Include:

- Partners in Prosperity with the Chamber of Commerce

- Employees serve on various committees at the Chamber of Commerce

- Walk a Mile in Her Shoes for Hospitality House for Women

- Safe Place Program Advocates for children

- Boys and Girls Club of Rome

- United Way of Rome and Floyd County

- Financial Education Programs in Middle Schools

- Savings Crew Programs in Elementary Schools

- American Red Cross

- Provide emcee for many charity events

- Toys for Tots

- Rotary Club of Rome

- Exchange Club of Rome

- Family Resource Center

- Law Enforcement Memorial

- Rome Floyd Parks and Recreation

- City of Rome downtown Development

- United Way of Rome

Darlington School, Business Community Service award

Founded in 1905, Darlington School is an independent, coeducational, college-preparatory school for students in PK through grade 12, with boarding available in grades 9-12.

Service Beyond Self has been one of Darlington’s core values since the school was founded in 1905.

This is evidenced by the participation of faculty, staff and students in the community.


-    Complete thousands of hours of service each year

-    Go to Boys and Girls club, Open Door Home and McHenry Primary weekly

-    Athletic teams do at least one servant leadership effort each year

-    Have had international service trips to India, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic

-    Students also volunteer at local retirement centers, prepare meals for homeless shelter, do clothing drives, and much more

Faculty and Staff:

-    Darlington encourages faculty and staff to serve and get involved in the community

-    Currently have employees on Boards and committees at organizations like South Rome Redevelopment Corporation, Sexual Assault Center of NWGA, Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, Rome Area History Museum, Junior Service League, One Book Many Voices, and Open Door Home

Each year, Darlington School hosts:

-    Special Olympics

-    Tri for the Kids and Sprint & Youth Triathlon

-    Light the Lake for cancer awareness

-    Two blood drives per year

Chris Carey

Originally from Milford, Massachusetts, Chris and his family have been in Rome for 11 years. He received a Business Degree in Marketing from Georgia State University and is the CEO of Logical Systems, Inc. He has been involved in every facet of our community’s life since moving to Rome in 2003.

His activities include:

-    Active Member of Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce

-    Wesley Johnson Award of Merit

-    Advisory Committee for Floyd County Schools College and Career Academy

-    Advisory Committee for Pepperell High and Coosa High Business Departments

-    Superintendent’s Advisory Committee for Rome City Schools

-    St. Mary’s Advisory Committee

-    Rome Rotary Club

-    Communities in Schools of Rome/Floyd County

-    Organized the first Rome and Floyd County Cardboard Challenge

-    Habitat for Humanity Family Selection Committee

-    Free Clinic

-    United Way

-    Habitat for Humanity Boston Butt Roast prepared by Knights of Columbus benefitting the HfH Woman’s Build

-    Participated in Celebrity Dance Challenge for NWGA Sexual Assault Center

Chris and his wife, Jessica, are very active in St. Mary’s Church. They are the proud parents of two daughters, Bridget, age 13 and Fiona, age 10. He is an avid cyclist and has a strong love for music and hockey.

Randy Quick

Randy is a lifelong resident of Rome and Floyd County growing up in the Lindale community.

At an early age, Randy developed his interest in music and radio. He is currently a Partner-General Manager/Rome Radio Partners WSRM(South93.5)/WQTU(Q102)/WRBF(The Rebel)/WRGA(News Talk 98.7-AM 1470)/WGJK(99.5 The Jock)

His activities include:

- Past Chairman of the Board Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce

- Past Chairman of the Rome Floyd Economic Development Authority

- Past County Chair Floyd County Education SPLOST Committee to build a new Pepperell High School

- 2009 Citizens SPLOST Committee (County Communications System, Barron Stadium Improvements, Property for Lowe’s Distribution Center)

- Chairman of Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce Business Expo 2001, 2002, 2003

- Graduate of Leadership Rome XVII

- Coordinator of Leadership Rome XXI

- Rome Rotary / Paul Harris Fellow / Board of Directors

- Past Chairman of the Board-- Campaign Co-Chair  of the United Way of Rome and Floyd County

- Board of Directors Exchange Club Family Resource Center of Rome

- Salvation Army Advisory Board (Participating in the annual can-a-thon for the past 21 years)

- Board of Directors Rome Symphony Orchestra

- Foundation Board Georgia Highlands College

- Board of Directors Communities in Schools

- President-Board of Directors Rome International Film Festival

- Christmas in Rome Parade Committee

- Board of Directors DIGGS

- March of Dimes

- Floyd County American Cancer Society Relay for Life

- Board of Directors Coosa Valley Federal Credit Union

- Lay Leader — Lindale United Methodist Church

Randy and his wife Janie have been married for 40 years.  They have a daughter, Kristin who graduated from Jacksonville State University and is employed by the Rome City School System. They have two grandchildren.

Ali Freeman - Young Heart Award recipient

Ali is a native of Monroeville, Alabama. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication from Auburn University. She serves as the Physician Liaison and Community Outreach Manager at Harbin Clinic.

A very active young adult, Ali is involved in the following civic and community organizations:

- Leadership Georgia 2015

- Rotary Club of Rome

- Berry College Center for Integrity in Leadership Mentor

- Rome International Film Festival – Past-President

- Rome-Floyd Citizens for Progress – 2013 SPLOST Campaign Chairperson

- Junior Service League of Rome – 2013 Follies Co-Chair

- Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia – 2013 Celebrity Dance Challenge People’s Choice Winner

- Rome Area History Museum – Past-President

- Oak Hill Church of Christ

- Leadership Rome XXVIII

- Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce Ambassador

She and her husband John enjoy being active members of the community. They reside in Rome with their Shih Tzu Jack.