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Swearingen urges volunteering, community efforts in Deen Day Smith speech

    Carl E. Swearingen likened local volunteers to butterflies as he spoke to the crowd at the 20th Annual Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards gala Tuesday night at Georgia Southern University's Nessmith Lane Continuing Education Building.
    Butterflies are a passion of Deen Day Smith Sanders, a renowned humanitarian whose husband founded Days Inn of America, and to whom she dedicated the Cecil B. Day butterfly center at Callaway Gardens.
    The annual awards ceremony, hosted by the Statesboro Herald and other local sponsors, is named in her honor.
    "It's a wonderful tribute when you think about the butterfly," Swearingen said, speaking about how the caterpillar, bane to plants,  is transformed into a thing of beauty that  helps pollinate those plants. "As you think about the butterfly, I want you to think about the volunteer."
    Butterflies are like volunteers in that they travel "and catch that particular flight pattern to help someone else."
    Swearingen spoke about other assets the Statesboro and Bulloch County area have, including Georgia Southern University, which he said will "have a key role" in the impact South Georgia will have in the nation's immediate future.
    He also spoke of a concern - "over a million Georgians without a high school degree."
    Promoting education, he said "Tomorrow is not about bricks and mortar. It is about knowledge and creativity."
    While he did not identify the fourth grade student who wrote the words, he repeated them to the crowd: "We wake up to the world, we do what we do, then we go to sleep forever."
    Adding his own thoughts, he said: "We do what we've been sent here to do."
    Swearingen encouraged listeners to do their parts in improving life around them. With lower standards, lower consumer confidence and lower quality of products, with a mentality of making a dollar at quality's expense, he said "You see the need to improve our standards. We all need to step up to the plate to our responsibilities."
    He suggested everyone "adopt a young person" to inspire, and to listen to.
    He also spoke about a conversation he had with a World War II veteran, reminding everyone to appreciate what veterans have done. When he asked the veteran to share his experience, he said the man replied " I did it for you."
    "We need to think about as we wake up to the world, the clock has started," he said. "We do what we do, then we go to sleep forever."
    Expressing concern that American businesses are seeking qualified employees from overseas, he said American citizens need to focus on improving the education of our  young people. "We need to focus on math and science at early ages, and then there would be no need to go offshore" for employees.
    Swearingen also spoke of the importance of promotion and effort, reminding the crowd that the outside world has an eye on Statesboro through Internet web sites and other media.
    "I think its important we all give therm a dip of Eagle Creek," he said. And comparing volunteers to "the components of a kaleidoscope," he said "You are the ones who give the beauty and the reasons you are recognized in such a special way."
    After Swearingen concluded his speech, Sea Island Bank President Wayne Akins presented him with a gift of appreciation - a hand blown glass eternal flame figurine from Fabrël.
     Retired from the BellSouth Corporation in 2001  as Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Swearingen began his telecommunications career in 1972 with Southern Bell in Tucker, Ga.
    Serving on numerous committees and boards by appointment from Gov. Sonny Perdue, Swearingen has a history of active involvement in community affairs. In addition to being a member of the Atlanta Kiwanis Club, he served on the boards of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the University of Georgia Foundation, and Berry College.
    He served as Chairman of Governor Miller’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology, Chairman of the University of Georgia National Alumni Association, Chairman of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, Chairman of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade, and Tourism, and Chairman of the National Board of Advisors of the Museum of Aviation located at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.
    He has also been involved in politics, having served as the chairman for Perdue’s Transition Team following the Governor’s election in November 2002, and was appointed as Perdue's special advisor on military affairs in May 2003.     Perdue also appointed him to the Commission for a New Georgia in June, 2003  and to the Technical College System of Georgia Board in August 2006. Swearingen began serving as Chairman of the Board in July 2007.

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