• CBHYF Admin

CBHYF 6th annual fundraiser benefiting the youth mentorship and athletic programs

Awards were presented at the Commissioner Bruce Holmes Youth Foundation Gala & Awards Dinner on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at The Merle Manders Conference Center.


Henry County, GA – November 27, 2017 - Each year the Commissioner Bruce Holmes Youth Foundation (CBHYF) recognizes excellence by presenting awards to recipients chosen for their exemplary leadership and dedication to improving our community. Some of Henry County's most influential leaders and volunteers were honored Saturday night, November 11, 2017 at The Merle Manders Conference Center in Stockbridge, GA.

See below for a rundown of the evening’s award recipients and their condensed bios:


Youth Leadership Award- Mekhi Whitner

Since February 2015, Mekhi has been a member of Project Exposure. Although he is currently unsure for his career choice, he has recently become interested in the field of entrepreneurship. In fact, he has recently competed in the ACT-SO State Competition in March and won the silver medal. His creative work was in the field of entrepreneurship. Mekhi started a business plan centered on a vending business. Another achievement of Mekhi was earning a certificate of Leadership from Atlanta Technical College’s AIM (Atlanta Institute for Males) program. At the moment, Mekhi has focused his creative thinking on developing a clothing line. Mekhi is currently exploring potential Universities to attend once he graduates High School. 

Volunteer Hero Award- Rannie Goodwater

Mr. Goodwater always had an interest in television. When he was a senior in high school, he called the local TV station, WCBD News 2, to inquire about internships for high school kids. The television station had never hired anyone as an intern, but thought it was a great idea and extended to him the opportunity. Once he graduated, the station offered him a full time position, where he learned all of the ins and outs of television production. After working for WCIV Channel 4, in Charleston, SC for 2 years, Rannie relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. He began to work for Georgia Public Television (GPTV), now known as Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) and worked there for the next 10 years. In 2014, as fate would have it, Mr. Goodwater would meet Commissioner Bruce Holmes on his routine morning coffee stop. After engaging in heavy conversation regarding the youth of today, Commissioner Holmes mentioned his youth foundation and invited Mr. Goodwater to volunteer. Having a strong passion for working with youth, it was a natural fit. Remembering the opportunities provided to him as a youth, Mr. Goodwater now assists college students majoring in broadcasting with gaining internships at GPB.

Community Service Award- Joyce Ouzts Rodgers

In 2000 Joyce retired as the County Nurse Manager, and proceeded to serve as a member of the Henry Medical Center Board of Directors and the Hospital Authority. In 2011 Joyce was asked to serve on the Affiliation Committee to analyze and determine the best option for Henry Medical Center to grow in service to the Community. Once the affiliation with Piedmont was complete, she was then appointed to serve on the Piedmont Henry Hospital Board of Directors and continued onto the Hospital Authority. She now serves in the capacity on the Board Accreditation Committee, Quality Physician Advisory Committee, and Quality Safety & Service Committee. Outside Piedmont Henry, Joyce enjoys volunteering at the Chamber where she serves on the Leadership Henry Board as an Emeritus Member. She also gives of her time and talents at Connecting Henry, Inc. where she has been a volunteer for close to two decades.

Image Award- Mildred Schmelz

Mrs. Schmelz has a passion for helping others. She has spent a great deal of time organizing voter registration drives in Henry County, Georgia where she visited nursing homes and assisted living arrangements, registering and providing applications for absentee ballots to the residents. As a two time breast cancer survivor she has served as a board member and founding member of Harbor of Hope, Inc. a cancer support group providing support (free scarves, bras, hats, wigs and prosthesis) to cancer patients and survivors. She continues to speak and advocate for cancer patients and survivors to this day. She has served on numerous boards and has received numerous awards including the Women's Resource Center, (first battered women’s center in DeKalb County), Oakhurst Community Health Center, Initiative for Affordable Housing, Inc., the Henry County Planning and Zoning Board, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (‘YWCA, Atlanta Woman of Achievement”), the “Darlene Johnson Spirit Award”, “Pinnacle Leadership Award”, “Eastern Star of the Year (Ruth Chapter No.102, PHA”, the “Ambassador for Peace Award (Universal Peace Federation)”, and the “Servant Leadership Award”, among others. In her spare time, she enjoys quality family time, antiquing, reading and helping people in need.

Community Service Award- Darius Patillo, District Attorney of Henry County

Darius Pattillo has been an attorney for 15 years. He began his legal career as a prosecutor in the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office. At the D.A.’s Office, he successfully prosecuted criminal defendants who were charged with serious felony crimes, including murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking, domestic violence, and crimes against children. As a Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney in DeKalb County, Darius gained managerial experience through supervising attorneys, investigators, paralegals, and other support personnel. Darius has taken the Henry County District Attorney’s Office to the next level by modernizing its approach, structure, and processes. In less than a year, he has expanded the office’s community outreach, created a Pre-trial Diversion Program, a special unit to prosecute domestic violence cases and sexual assault cases, an asset forfeiture division and an appeals division. Darius believes that in addition to the D.A.’s traditional role of prosecuting cases, the D.A.’s Office should play a more active role in our community to prevent crime and ensure public safety. Darius is a native of Atlanta. He graduated from the University of Georgia, where he received a degree in social studies education with an emphasis in political science.

Legacy Award- Rev. Dr. Edward W. Lee, Senior Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church

For over43 years, Rev. Dr. Edward W. Lee has witnessed astonishing growth, as pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church. With God’s guidance in 2006 Shiloh successfully transitioned into a new 30,000 sq. ft. edifice with a seating capacity of 1100, a big jump from the 350-seat legendary church of former days. Rev. Lee was licensed to preach in March 1963 by Shiloh’s former pastor, the late Reverend R. H. Milner. He attended Inter-Denominational Theological Center (Evening Classes) in Atlanta and was ordained as a minister in October 1964. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Morris Brown College in Atlanta and received his Doctor of Philosophy in Religion from North Carolina College of Theology, Wilmington, N.C. He has served as Chairman of the Henry County United Way Advisory Board, President of the Henry County Ministerial Alliance, past Board Chair as Director of the New Era State Congress of Christian Education and was a member of the Board of Directors for Henry County Residential Housing. As a result of his service in McDonough and Shiloh’s long-standing as a beacon in the community, former Mayor Richard Craig of McDonough declared Sunday, April 3, 2005, as “Reverend Edward W. Lee Day”.

The William Crumbley Impact Award- Principal Eric Watson

Mr. Eric Watson is the principal of Stockbridge High School in Stockbridge, Georgia, a multicultural high school that serves 1,479 students daily. He has been in education for twenty-nine years. Proudly, he oversees school curriculum, student performance, academic focus, and a staff of over 100 employees. His first ten years were spent as a teacher and coach. During that time, he was fortunate to be able to work with diverse groups of students and athletes. He is proud to say that many of his former students have come back to acknowledge what a positive impact he made on them. Their success is what motivates him to continually push other young learners towards a rewarding educational experience. As a result, he vehemently believes that “rigorous academics and compassionate educators are the key to build a strong foundation for future leaders”.

The Gala began promptly at 6pm. It was held at The Merle Manders Conference Center, 111 Davis Road, Stockbridge, GA 30281.  The evening was sponsored by many corporate sponsors including but not limited to Cigna Healthcare, Denise Holmes Law Firm, Piedmont Henry, Georgia Power, Regal Innovation and Design, Coleman and Walton LLP, Fincher DenMark LLC Attorneys, Trane, Caduceus and many more sponsors. 

The guests enjoyed a fun filled casino experience sponsored by Denise Holmes Law Firm. The experience included delicious Hors d’Oeuvres prepared by Affordable Events Catering.  The guests also had the option to enjoy a delicious dinner immediately upon entrance into the ballroom. The young men and women of the CBHYF programs were dressed in their formal attire for the evening, while politely greeting guests as they came into the building and they escorted the guests to their tables.  

The red carpet host was radio personality Mr. Larry Love.  Guests enjoyed their pictures being taken on the step and repeat by celebrity photographer Ralph Williams of E37 Photography. Ms. Maggy Martinez from Starbound PR Firm and also conducted live interviews. Mr. Bernard McRae of Focus Films Atlanta captured amazing video footage of the evening.

At about 7:30pm the commencement of the awards ceremony took place. The evening began with Commissioner Bruce Holmes giving opening remarks, and acknowledgement of all veterans present. CBHYF President Toni Holmes explaining the occasion for the event followed the introduction. CBHYF 2017 Gala Chair and CBHYF Vice President Geraldine Andre introduced the celebrity MC. The awards program preceded expeditiously with charisma and entertainment of the talented Actor, Author and Educator Mr. Gregory Alan Williams, who also lives in Henry County, GA. 

The evening was filled with wonderful décor designed by Regal Innovation and Design and Councilwoman Sandra Vincent. The theme of the evening was, A night of Moulin Rouge. The guests enjoyed great food, adult beverages, and wonderful dessert provided by Munchies Bakery of Ellenwood, GA. 

All elected officials present from surrounding counties, and CBHYF Board Members were also recognized at the Gala. 

Dancing and Musical Entertainment was provided by DJ EW (Edward Watson) of Extra Entertainment.


In January 2011, the Commissioner Bruce Holmes Youth Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization was established. Since its inception, CBHYF initiatives in Henry County have focused on Youth Development through healthy living, education, athletics and leadership (H.E.A.L). Within a very short span of time the organization has successfully created measurable change through program development and partnering with existing institutions in the community to deliver activities which create meaningful, sustainable, and positive outcomes.


Geraldine Andre | Vice President

The Commissioner Bruce Holmes Youth Foundation

P.O. Box 2563 | Stockbridge | GA | 30281

Office: (678) 926-8170 | Fax: (800) 878-6886 |


9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All