Three community leaders were recognized Tuesday night for dedicating their lives to helping others. Jewel Dabbs, Allen Webb and JD Dunn each were awarded lifetime achievement honors during the 28th Annual Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards banquet, held at Georgia Southern University's Nessmith-Lane Conference Center.
Bruce Yawn, who was named Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year in 2001, presented the awards.
"These people are special givers in our community," he said. "They have always unselfishly answered the call to help others."
Yawn first introduced Dabbs.
"One of Statesboro's most well-known and beloved ladies is honored tonight," he said. "She isn't a Bulloch County native but got here as fast as she could and has been a blessing to many over the years as she touched their lives."
Dabbs was recognized in 2002 with a Deen Day Service to Mankind Award. She has been known to care for the ill and neighbors in need, and her friends describe her as "the Energizer Bunny" and say she is "always very much outside herself" in putting others first, he said.
She is a member of the Averitt Center for the Arts, volunteers with Ogeechee Area Hospice and "takes the time each year to help provide school supplies and snacks for at-risk children through the Backpack Buddies program,"
Dabbs is a long-time member of the Spade and Trowel Garden Club and its committee to help beautify the downtown Statesboro area and has been involved in a multitude of fundraising activities, including the American Diabetes Association's Kiss-a-Pig campaign, efforts to help the Alzheimer's Association and numerous projects with Bulloch Academy.
She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Colonists and a volunteer with the Bloodmobile and American Red Cross, donating blood as well as assisting with blood drives, he said.
Dabbs is a member of Statesboro First United Methodist Church, where she is a Sunday school teacher, a member of its Helping Hands and other committees and "the talent behind making those delightful banners, floral arrangements and table decorations enjoyed at church functions," he said.
"She also serves at the church's Wednesday night suppers. No matter where you look, somewhere in our community, Jewel Dabbs has made a mark on others' lives," Yawn said.
Next, Yawn introduced Webb, saying he brings new meaning to the words "hands-on."
Webb's friends say he "approaches life from a servant's heart point-of-view, and he has used his creative talents since an early age, when he would craft handmade baseball bats for his friends," he said.
"The Candler County native moved as a child to Statesboro in 1935, and as years went by, he expanded his handiwork to include building library shelves for his high school."
After graduating from Statesboro High School, Webb joined the United States Army. He later achieved a Bachelor of Science in 1958 from Georgia Teacher's College, now Georgia Southern University, and in 1965 earned a master's in trade technology education from the University of Georgia.
"Our honoree used his education and woodworking talents in teaching high school shop classes for eight years in Lowndes and Wilkes counties, then launched a career in the furniture-making business," Yawn said. "He spent 14 years teaching handicapped citizens how to make a living crafting furniture."
Webb moved back to Statesboro in 1990. He served two four-year terms on the Habitat for Humanity board of directors and has had a hand in the construction of 45 Habitat houses in Bulloch County alone.
"That doesn't count the houses in other communities, including Guyton," Yawn said. "Through his involvement in these efforts, he also taught others woodworking and construction skills."
He has made chairs, cabinets, playground equipment, shelves, railings, flower stands and speaker boxes for several churches and served as deacon for Bethel Lutheran Church in Springfield. He also has assisted church members in the construction of pump houses and storage buildings, repaired a picnic shelter, helped build a church bus garage and crafted a cross and signs for other local churches.
"In 2002, Webb went on a 10-day building mission trip to Guatemala," Yawn said. "He has served community members here and afar by installing handmade handicap grab bars and wheelchair ramps. He has also created furniture from wood with sentimental value for many friends."
Finally, Yawn introduced Dunn, "a man who loves working with his hands in a manner that benefits other people."
"He developed a strong work ethic as a child, carrying water to the cotton choppers, flagging the crop dusters at the end of the cornrows and later raising rice in the wet fields.
"He makes wood crafts of all kinds and gives them away, refusing payment, taking joy in the giving of a useful and beautiful creation," Yawn said. "He has built countless handicap ramps for area citizens in need."
Dunn is a "hands-on person and enjoys hard work that results in making lives better for others," he continued. "A staunch supporter of Habitat for Humanity, our recipient has helped build more than 40 homes in Bulloch County for people who otherwise could not afford homes of their own."
Dunn previously served as president of the board of directors for the Bulloch County chapter of Habitat for Humanity and participated in building Habitat homes in Atlanta, Birmingham and Valdosta and on the Gulf Coast.
He is a faithful blood donor, spent many years teaching at Southeast Bulloch High School and "guided over 30 student teachers, mentoring them and encouraging them in pursuit of their own teaching careers. He also made a significant impact on the young people in the community, imparting knowledge and wisdom as he taught," Yawn said.
Dunn is an ordained deacon at Statesboro's First Presbyterian Church, where he is also a member of the Pilgrims and Prodigals Sunday school class and "serves on the church facilities committee, fixing broken things and being the church's ever-present handyman," he said.
"He does these things without desire for compensation or recognition, working under the radar to make other's lives more pleasant."
Dunn served on the Dayspring Walk to Emmaus board of directors as the community registrar and as the county's first election board chairman. He also volunteers as a poll manager for the Brooklet precinct. He has served on East Georgia Regional Medical Center's auxiliary board "and rises early every Monday morning to volunteer at the hospital's outpatient desk at EGRMC."
"He bakes cookies every Sunday afternoon for the same-day surgery staff to enjoy every Monday," Yawn said.
Dunn was named the 2014 Kiwanian of the Year for the Statesboro Kiwanis Club and was a Brooklet Kiwanis member before joining the Statesboro club.
"Whenever the club has a workday or special event, JD Dunn is one of the spokes that makes the wheel turn - and most likely helped build that wheel in the first place," Yawn said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.