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Zack Stewart named 5th Volunteer of the Year at annual UNITE dinner

UNITE grant and fundraising Volunteer of the Year, Zack Stewart and family. Back l_r Jeff and Tarea Stewart Stout, Jeff Stewart, Martha Ann and Don Stewart (brother), seater l r Kate Hester, grand daughter, Temple Stewart Hester, Zack, Jason Stewart.

About 125 people were present Thursday evening, March 22, for the annual UNITE grant and fundraising dinner at the First United Methodist Church in New Albany. UNITE is the acronym for “Union County/New Albany Initiative to Excel.”

Grants were given Thursday night to 14 local organizations and, for the fifth time, a “UNITE Volunteer of the Year was named.”

Speaker for the evening was Juanita Gambrell Floyd, a New Albany native and vice president for finance and administration of the CREATE Foundation, based in Tupelo. She spoke of being raised in New Albany by a single parent and paid tribute to her mother, the late Bernice Wade Gambrell, for giving her the guidance and encouragement that contributed to her own success. Floyd encouraged attendees to continue their support of UNITE with the knowledge that their contributions make a difference in the community.

Juanita Gambrell Floyd also writes a regular column for the Daily Journal (DJ) newspaper. We have provided a link to the tribute column she wrote for the DJ almost four years ago when her mother died.

UNITE is a community foundation that supports civic, educational, health, human services and cultural initiatives. It is an affiliate of CREATE. This year’s UNITE grant and fundraising dinner celebrated 16th year UNITE grants have been made. Over those years grants of more than $330-thousand have been distributed to 39 local organizations.

UNITE Grant winners: Front Row (l-r) Judy Harrison, UC Master Gardeners; Joyce Sumners. NA Symphony League; Charlene Black, Agape Health Services; Annie Erby, Magnolia Recreation & Resource Center; Brittany Willard, Pilot Club of New Albany; Peggy Hitt, UC Good Samaritan Center
Second Row: Billye Jean Stroud, NA Main Street; Phil Nanney, New Haven Center, UCDA; Sara Bell, First Choice Center for Women; Jill Smith, UC Heritage Museum; Kay Sappington, UC Library System; Nancy Meacham, UC Literacy Council, Marquel Conner, Boys & Girls Club

Grant recipients this year were: Agape Health Services, Inc., Boys & Girls Club of NE MS, First Choice Center for Women, Magnolia Recreation and Resource Center, New Albany Main Street Association, New Albany Symphony League, New Haven Center for Special Needs Adults, Pilot Club of New Albany, UCDA Leadership Academy, Union County Good Samaritan, Union County Heritage Museum, Union County Library System, Union County Literacy Council and Union County Master Gardeners.

Zack Stewart was named the fifth recipient of the UNITE Volunteer of the Year Award. Stewart served five terms as the elected Transportation Commissioner for Northern Mississippi, until his retirement in 2005. He is given much of the credit for the inception and completion of a program to build more than 1,000 miles of four-lane highway in Mississippi during his time as commissioner.
Since retirement, Zack Stewart has performed thousands of hours of volunteer work for the community, most notably building projects for the Union County Heritage Museum. He is noted for his sense of humor, generosity and for physical and mental toughness and durability.

During a long and active life Stewart has overcome many obstacles and has battled cancer for many years. Among other interests, and at age 81, Stewart enjoys taking long driving trips around North America. He plans his next trip to be to the desert Southwest.

For more about Zack Stewart, click the link below to an article about him posted on about 18 months ago.

Juanita Gambrell Floyd’s 2014 tribute to her mother: article about Zack Stewart:

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