The 17th annual Public Servant Appreciation Luncheon was held on Wednesday September 7th at the Cartersville Civic Center. When I first started this luncheon in 2000, it was held at Dellinger Park with around 300 people attending. This year with the help of over 100 volunteers (including 12 from ShawHankins) as well as the financial support of many community partners like ShawHankins, we fed over 1600 people.This year’s luncheon featured speaker Brigadier General Joseph Jarrard, the Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard. His speech was encouraging and uplifting to the attendees while reminding all of us that we should all work together to make the United States of America the greatest country on earth.
Other people on the program included Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor reading the proclamation as well as Mayor Matt Santini from the City of Cartersville and Mayor Al Pallone from the City of Emerson. In addition, Chris Thomas of the Cartersville Bartow County office of Economic Development led all of us to our feet in the singing of our National Anthem.
Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap said the luncheon is a real morale booster for all invited. “It just lifts your spirits, knowing there’s somebody who really does appreciate you,” says the sheriff. “It just makes you feel good all over. Sometimes in law enforcement, people are down on you, people want to cuss at you, some people even want to shoot at you, nowadays. To have a gesture like this, to have someone show you no matter what’s going on, we still respect you, we still love you, and we still need you, I can’t thank Parnick and all of the sponsors enough.”
Many times I am asked why I started the appreciation luncheon. This question always takes me back to a day I was coming up the street in Cartersville, and I saw a gentleman on a sanitation truck picking up trash in the pouring rain. I pulled up and said, “I just want to thank you for what you do.” He responded, “thank you sir, no one’s ever thanked me for doing this.” It struck me that public servants need to be thanked for their service, so that’s how the idea started.
After the World Trade Center bombings, my desire to honor public servants grew even stronger. At the time, I operated the Parnick Jennings Funeral Home, and went to New York City to perform funerals for police officers and firefighters killed in the blasts.
It touched me because I met some of the families of the people who died trying to protect us. I will never forget the smell and the sights of Ground Zero. One of the most memorable occasions occurred when I witnessed men and women still searching through the rubble trying to find their fellow workers. As they left that hallowed ground, New Yorkers on either side of the street were standing and clapping for them and thanking them for what they were doing. That is why I always try to personally thank each of these men and women for what they do for our community.
Community service has always been a big part of my life. It was instilled in me by my parents and grandparents at an early age. During my 66 years, I have served on more than 50 community boards. God has blessed me with a wonderful supportive family, friends and associates. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to give back to my community.
Next year’s 18th Annual Public Servant Appreciation Luncheon is scheduled to be held on Tuesday September 12, at the Cartersville Civic Center from 11 A.M. until 2 P.M. For further information or if you would like to help, please call me at 678-767-7169.