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UNITE awards grants, names Volunteer of the Year

UNITE Grant winners 2017 2017 Unite grant recipients: (L-R) Dr. Shane Scott, Agape Health Services; Emily Tucker, Junior Auxiliary; Sara Bell, First Choice Center for Women; Jill Smith, Union Co Heritage Museum; Kay Sappington, Jennie Stephens Smith Library; Peggy Hitt, Good Samaritan; Melissa Manning, Pilot Club; Nancy Meacham, Literacy Council; Joyce Sumners, Symphony League; Marquel Conner, Boys & Girls Club; Brenda Robertson, Master Gardeners; Phil Nanney, UCDA Leadership Academy and New Haven

Betty Duvall King was named UNITE Volunteer of the Year Thursday night, March 23rd, at the organization’s annual dinner meeting at First United Methodist Church in New Albany.

For King it was the most recent of many rewards garnered during a distinguished career as a music educator and civic volunteer, both in Union County and internationally.

Betty King, UNITE’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year.

King was the president of Pilot International during 1976 and 1977, and was the youngest woman ever elected president of the prestigious international civic and philanthropic organization. To this date, no younger Pilot International president has ever served. During her presidency she visited Pilot Clubs in the United Kingdom, in continental Europe and in the Caribbean islands.

A native of Mantachie, in Lee County, she was Valedictorian of her high school class and was an All Star basketball player at the University of Mississippi. She earned an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree at Ole Miss.

She taught music in Tupelo Public Schools from 1958 to 1972 and was married to New Albany attorney Henry King. She taught gifted students in New Albany public schools and gave private piano lessons.

UNITE Volunteer of the Year, Betty King, and her family.

She has served as a volunteer with New Albany Main Street, UCDA, Union County Heritage Museum, the Union County Library, Baptist Memorial Hospital and many other local organizations. She is a member of the First United Methodist Church of New Albany.

The UNITE Volunteer of the Year honor was initiated in 2014. Rheta Ann West, Bill and Linda Everett and Joyce Sumners were the honorees in previous years.

Jeff Pannell, Farm Bureau Insurance of TN

UNITE keynote speaker Jeff Pannell, a New Albany native who is president of Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee

New Albany native Jeff Pannell, now president of Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee, was the keynote speaker at the annual event. He was introduced by Billye Jean Stroud, manager of New Albany Main Street.

UNITE (Union County/New Albany Initiative to Excel) is an affiliate of the CREATE Foundation of Tupelo and is in its 15th year of service. More than $20,000 in grants was distributed to 13 local philanthropic organizations during the dinner meeting Thursday night. About a quarter million dollars in grants has been awarded during UNITE’s 15 years of service. The funding for UNITE comes from private donations, which may be mailed to UNITE at P. O. Box 125, New Albany, 38652.

UNITE is headed by Dr. Collett Cross of New Albany, who informed that generous supporters of UNITE gave $9320 in donations, with another $11,325 in pledges, at the Thursday evening dinner meeting.

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