By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Hundreds Attend Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful’s 35th Birthday & Annual Awards Dinner

Event Hosted at Gwinnett Center on January 23 to Honor Outstanding Environmental Stewards and their Achievements Over the Course of the Last Decade 

Duluth – Nearly 400 people braved the rain to gather at Gwinnett Center on Friday, January 23 in celebration of three and a half decades since the launch of environmentally focused non-profit, Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful. During the course of the evening, Executive Director Connie Wiggins and esteemed members of Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful’s Board of Directors honored a number of outstanding individuals, organizations and corporations that have served as shining examples of environmental stewardship over the course of the past decade or more. Each year, Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful’s Annual Awards Dinner shines the spotlight on the achievements of individuals and businesses within Gwinnett County in an effort to preserve, protect and beautify the community that surrounds them, and to inspire others to action through their example.  Listed among the 2015 awards and honorees were:

Founders Award: The Lawrenceville Women’s Club – In the late 1970’s, they convened a group of 57 citizens to discuss the growing community concern about illegal dumping and littering and explore ways to address them. In 1980, they convinced the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners to establish Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful. The new organization would be charged with educating and engaging the public in on-going efforts to improve our environment and quality of life. 

Green Business Leader of the Decade: Marsha Anderson Bomar – With more than 40 years of leadership in transportation and community development, Bomar understands that moving people and goods is critical for a vibrant, thriving community. In addition to being the first female international President of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, she is a nationally recognized business and community leader, a dedicated public servant, philanthropist and true visionary. 

Green Industry of the Decade: Okabashi Brands, Inc. – In 1984, Okabashi launched an amazing journey to set itself apart from other manufacturers - to make products that are good for consumers AND the environment. In addition to aiding the well-being of its customer base, shoes, sandals and flip flops manufactured by Okabashi are  100% recyclable, contain 25% recycled materials, are produced in a zero waste manufacturing process and are made locally in Buford, Georgia. Okabashi also takes a global approach to community mindedness - having donated more than 20,000 pairs of sandals to the people of Haiti following the devastating earthquake in 2010. 

Public-Private Partner of the Decade: Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District – Established in 2006, the Gwinnett Village CID exhibits some of the most powerful and effective public/private partnerships in existence today. The model it has created to spur investment and revitalization in aging communities has since been implemented around the country. It recognizes that transportation is the lifeblood of local economies. Over the course of the last nine years, the Gwinnett Village CID has built sidewalks, enhanced intersections, and expanded transit to ensure safe and convenient transportation for all who live, work, play and learn in the area. It also focuses on the area's appearance by mowing rights of way, partnering with Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful to make the area remains graffiti and litter free, and installing and maintaining million dollar landscapes. These efforts create a sense of place and community pride that says “Welcome to Gwinnett!” 

Green Community Organization of the Decade: Lake Lanier Association – Since 1966, the Lake Lanier Association has been working to protect the high water quality of Gwinnett County’s source for drinking water, while preserving this valuable legacy for future generations. Ensuring a clean, safe, and full lake is this group’s mission. Sweeping the shores free of litter to improve water quality, installing solar powered navigation lights to keep boaters safe and installing rip rap to keep soil on the land and  islands are just some of the ways Lake Lanier Association shows that its members are environmentally conscious and good stewards of one of the community’s most precious resources… water. 

Green Educator of the Decade: Mason Elementary School – Charged with developing tomorrow's environmental stewards and leaders since 1999, Mason Elementary School has continually provided real world opportunities for engaging students in problem solving; implemented environmentally sound practices; and demonstrated knowledge, actions and behaviors which improve our environment and reduce society's impact on our natural world. It consistently attains the highest level of achievement in the Green & Healthy Schools program. 

Green Government of the Decade: Gwinnett County Government – With nearly 1 million residents who call Gwinnett County “home”, it takes great leaders and visionaries to provide clean water freely flowing from their faucets; keep our eighborhoods clean and graffiti-free; build and maintain parks for playing, getting fit, or enjoying nature; preserve clean streams for paddling and fishing; provide recycling and transit options that help keep the air clean; and so much more. Gwinnett County Government is a recognized leader in innovative technologies and good stewardship of our natural resources. 

Recycling Partner of the Decade: Eagle Rock Distributing Company – First established in 1930, Eagle Rock Distributing Company had achieved the #1 spot in Atlanta for its industry by 1981. That very same year, Eagle Rock helped Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful launch a major recycling initiative to recover used beverage cans and return them as raw materials to industry to make new cans. Throughout this company's growth, it has continually implemented business options that reduce energy and utility costs, while promoting responsible consumption of its products and proper handling and recycling of its containers and packaging. 

Green Youth of the Decade: Kevin Bhimani – (NEW award that includes a $1,000 scholarship to support the student's college learning experience.) Bhimani is a recognized leader in his high school environmental club. He is committed to serving the surrounding community, has achieved high academic success - maintaining a 4.0 GPA, and has an environmental goal to secure reliable, clean energy sources to replace fossil fuels.  He currently serves on the inaugural Youth Advisory Council for Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful and plans to pursue a career in financial advising or investment banking.

Volunteer of the Decade: Butch Conway – Conway has provided long-standing exceptional service to Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful. He has demonstrated dedication and commitment to building awareness of GCB programs; helped improve the operational efficiency of GCB services; and advanced GCB's mission through talent and service. Conway has also led by example... Helping to stop litterers in action; developing model in-house energy-saving and waste reduction programs; recovering and properly disposing of unused, unwanted or expired prescription and over the counter drugs; and removing litter and debris from Gwinnett's Innovation Gateway.

Environmental Legacy of the Decade: Louise Radloff – Radloff has dedicated almost 40 years of her life to improving the Gwinnett County community and developing tomorrow's leaders. She inspires others to action through her own leadership and environmental stewardship – which includes: establishing policies that better protect the health of local residents; fostering environmental education in all Gwinnett County classrooms; establishing recognition programs for school custodians; protecting precious green spaces by personally pulling tons of trash by hand from Tribble Mill Park; making neighborhoods safer by painting out graffiti vandalism; improving water quality by leading volunteer teams to remove tires, paint cans and household trash from area streams; hauling and chipping Christmas trees; teaching others the importance of citizenship and how to be environmental stewards; and so much more.

Concerned citizens, local organizations and eco-conscious companies are encouraged to volunteer as individuals or groups for a number of events that Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful either organizes or promotes during the year. To view projects and register as a volunteer, interested parties are invited to visit www.GwinnettCB.org or call (770) 822-5187 for more information. Tax-deductible donations to Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful may also be made online.

About Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful:  Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful Services, Inc. (GCB) is an award-winning 501(c)3 charitable organization that boasts an expansive community-based network dedicated to finding long term solutions to environmental and quality of life issues through individual action. The organization is guided by a 55-member Citizens Advisory Board that represents all sectors of the Gwinnett County community. A nationally recognized leader in creating cleaner, greener and more livable communities throughout Gwinnett, GCB involves more than 100,000 volunteers annually to help prevent litter and graffiti, recycle and reduce waste, and increase environmental awareness. To learn more about Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful and its programs, aspiring environmental stewards are invited to visit www.GwinnettCB.org