While friends call him ‘preacher man’ or ‘Big Joe,’ native Georgian and Peachtree Corners resident, Joe Sawyer refers to himself as a child of God and fervently seeks to embody a purpose filled life.
Born at Grady/Hughes Spalding Hospital in downtown Atlanta in 1965, Sawyer grew up in Lynwood Park, now known as a community in the Brookhaven area. The youngest of five siblings, Sawyer idolized two men, God and his father, Pastor Cornelius Sawyer. Pastor Sawyer, founder of Saint Peter’s True Holiness Church located on the corner of Windsor Parkway and Osborn Road in 1977, imparted numerous life lessons to his children.
“My father was my role model. His life lessons served as my foundation so I could become the man I am today. He taught me how to carry myself, to respect everyone to include your elders, and to treat people how you would want to be treated.” Joe chuckles as he recalls his father telling him to ‘be a gentle giant, son.’ “My dad stood at five foot, five inches tall, while I tower at six foot, four.”
Sawyer attended Chamblee High school and played football. “I was a typical preacher’s kid who liked to push the boundaries just to see how far I could go to get away with things. My antics tended to land me in the principal’s office on occasion. That’s when I learned that life is what you make of it – you can make it hard or easy. As I got older, I chose the latter by following God’s way.” Sawyer earned a football scholarship, attending Alabama State University for a year. “I was an outside linebacker; unfortunately I got injured and opted to not finish my college education.”
After serving in the Unites States Army, Sawyer found the love of his life in 1992. He and Kimberly will celebrate twenty four years of marriage this year. The father of two daughters and grandfather of three says with pride, “I modeled my marriage after my parents. My father taught me to treat my wife like a queen.” He adds lovingly while laughing, “He also said to carefully pick your battles, son.”
“I work hard for my family. I made a promise to them like my father did to his six children that ‘as long as Papa has breath in his body, you won’t lack for anything.’”
Pictured Right: The Sawyer Family (from L to R): 1st row: Grandchildren, Kamerson and Kelsey (Kya not pictured) 2nd row: Joe and Kimberly Sawyer. 3rd row: Daughters, Lauren and Lacy.
Joe Sawyer’s hard work speaks for itself. He is a veteran, former Home Owner’s Association president of Meadow Green, basketball coach, counselor to juveniles and married couples, and even served as a preacher in his father’s church. Currently, he is the owner of Alpha and Omega Carpet Cleaning Company.
“I love my community of Peachtree Corners and I enjoy meeting new people. While cleaning their carpets, I pray for the owner’s household.” Sawyer, a two time cancer survivor, feels blessed. “The Lord put me on this earth for a reason.”
Friend and Peachtree Corners resident, Gay Shook, concurs. “Joe is constantly thinking about how to build bridges and bring people together. He’s truly concerned about the welfare of Peachtree Corners and even ran for a seat on the City Council, Post 1. Although unelected in 2012, he is a special man and helped our community to become a city. The world would be a much better place if we had more people like Joe Sawyer.”
When asked if Sawyer would ever consider throwing his hat back into the political ring, he beams. “That question brings a smile to my face. My mother taught me to say ‘never say never.’”
Shook adds, “Joe works hard to make improvements in our community and he brings with him a whole lot of love.”
Sawyer is also the co-founder and Board President of Bridges Peachtree Corners, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that brings diverse people together in an effort to build a stronger community. The Christian-based grassroots group tackles a range of issues from offering drug prevention education, discussing strategies to improve race relations to providing volunteers for community clean-up efforts. Bridges Peachtree Corners even hosts job fairs and community breakfasts where speakers like Rob Woodall, U.S. Representative from Georgia’s 7th District; Lynette Howard, District 2 Commissioner for Gwinnett County; and Mike Mason, Peachtree Corners Mayor provide information sharing forums and address questions from constituents.
“My heart is in the Bridge’s project. There isn’t another organization like ours that is willing to take a stand for the south side of Peachtree Corners. We need to collectively address our community needs.”
Shook agrees. “In Peachtree Corners, we have executive housing and a good assortment of apartments. We need to bridge the sections. There are no barriers for him [Sawyer] and he’s working to change those paradigms.”
As Sawyer drives his carpet cleaning truck, dubbed the ‘Jesus truck,’ by his friends, throughout the Atlanta area, he is proud to honor his Christian values and faith openly. A custom license plate honors his ‘preacher man’ nickname. The printed Bible verse on the side of the vehicle from Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Sawyer is proud of his accomplishments to date, striving to continue to fulfill his faith-driven purpose - to create a strong and united community in Peachtree Corners.
To learn more about Bridges Peachtree Corners, visit: http://www.bridgespc.org