Statesboro realty icon Ray Hendley said he was unable to express his emotions Tuesday night after being named the Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year at the 24th Annual Deen Day Service to Mankind Awards gala.
The invitation-only event was held at Georgia Southern University’s Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Building.
“Wow. I’m as surprised as you are, especially those of you who really know me,” he quipped as he accepted the award. “I don’t know the words tonight.”
Bruce Yawn, who won the award in 2001, introduced Hendley, extolling his virtues.
“This award recognizes persons who have provided a wide range of services to the community during the recent past,” he said. “It is given in recognition of commitments above and beyond the routine. This year’s recipient has never been one to just donate and forget.”
When the Fellowship of Christian Athletes asked for help, Hendley didn’t just write a check — he learned about the needs and donated a two-bedroom apartment to serve as an office and temporary housing for the director.
“He doesn’t just supplement a need. He gives to make sure needs are taken care of. He doesn’t just see an opportunity to give — he sees how giving helps others.”
Hendley is involved in many boards and committees such as Open Hearts Community Mission for the homeless; Boys & Girls Club of Statesboro, and is a passionate supporter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“He is a well-respected deacon in church and was a driving force behind the new sanctuary construction at Statesboro First Baptist Church,” Yawn said. “He visits the homebound, bringing a smile and cheerful words to uplift their spirits through shared Scripture, speaks at funerals to comfort the bereaved … he seems to know just the right words to say when encouragement and compassion are needed.
“His leadership skills are certainly known,” he continued. “His service to others certainly reflects Jesus’ teachings to love others as he loves us.”
Yawn told guests about how Hendley bought a long-time employee a new suit of clothes when he needed to attend an event. He also gave the man a pickup truck.
“For years, this generous man paid power bills and funded other needs … and once, when a new employee broke a leg in a serious boating accident, he not only paid that employee’s medical bills until his insurance became effective, he also provided a helicopter ride from the Caribbean, (where the accident occurred), so that employee could heal from his wounds at home.”
A driving force in Statesboro-area realty for over 40 years, Hendley is a member of the Rotary Club of Statesboro, which named him 2012 Citizen of the Year. He has served on countless boards including the Statesboro Board of Realtors, Statesboro Planning Commission, Safe Haven and more. He has helped with numerous missions and is a past chairman of deacons at Statesboro’s First Baptist Church.
“Over the years he has provided temporary housing for members of our community in need,” Yawn said. “He possesses the compassion to dream, the will to lead.”
Holli Deal Brag may be reached at (912) 489-9414.