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Tootle named Humanitarian of the Year
Trish Tootle celebrated for kindness, leadership
Trish Tootle makes her way to the stage after being named the 2012 Humanitarian of the Year during Tuesday's Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards at the Georgia Southern University Nessmith-Lane Center for Continuing Education. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

   A prominent Statesboro businesswoman honored during Tuesday’s 25th Annual Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards “provides a wide range of service to our community,” said Gerald Edenfield, a former Deen Day Smith awards recipient and a founding member of the program.
    “Webster defines the word ‘humanitarian’ as someone who works to make other people's lives better,” he said of Trish Tootle. “Someone who has the compassion to lead, ambition to work, and strength ... when we name this person, you will know it” to be true.
    The 2013 Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year has spent a lifetime doing just that, he said.
    “Friends and coworkers say she is passionate about life,” she said. “One coworker said, “Her energy radiates to those around her and she is such an inspiration to all us that know her.”
    Having spent more than 25 years in a business that helps others, Statesboro’s Tootle also has dedicated a great deal of time to civic endeavors, serving on  boards of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce, the Statesboro Kiwanis Club as its membership chairwoman and Ogeechee Area Hospice, where she served as secretary.
    Edenfield said Tootle “worked tirelessly in raising funds” for a building to house Ogeechee Area Hospice. “Many people would call our humanitarian an angel. When you ask (her) to become involved, be prepared.”
    Tootle has worked with many children as she served as Vacation Bible School director for the Ogeechee Baptist Association and is the director of children's church and Vacation Bible School for Emit Grove Baptist Church.
    “She is a devout Christian” involved in the Walk to Emmaus community, Edenfield said.
    “Another great focus is Safe Haven, which is near and dear to her heart,” he said.
    Tootle has worked hard as a division leader for the 2012 Safe Haven Freedom campaign and is a staunch supporter of the safe shelter.
    Her community involvement extends further as she has been an active force in serving on boards of the United Way, Red Cross, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and Hearts & Hands Clinic.
    She was membership chairwoman for the Averitt Center Friends of the Arts, served on the American Cancer Society Relay for Life committee, and the American Business Women's Association.
    A 2009 graduate of Leadership Bulloch, Tootle received the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award and the Chamber of Commerce Libba Smith Award in 2003. She has long been involved in the annual Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind awards.
    Tootle devotes hours to relatives with Alzheimer’s disease, and enables full-time caregivers to enjoy a reprieve.
    “You would think our angel is a full-time volunteer, but she is not – she is a professional businesswoman” who in more than 25 years at Farmers & Merchants Bank, has held positions of teller, bookkeeper, proof operator, customer service representative, loan secretary, human resources and marketing and public relations. Her current position at FMB is vice president and retail banking manager.
    “She has also spent hours working on the Deen Day Smith awards. She has never sought the spotlight,” Edenfield said, “just seeks to help our community be a better place.”
    As she accepted her award, Tootle was emotional.
    “I know many of you, and when I tell you I am speechless, you’ll all laugh because you know I love to talk,” she said. “I am so undeserving but I am so thankful. I come here to serve, not be served.
    “I grew up in a home where love was taught,” she said, adding that it is an honor to work for a business that supports volunteerism. “And most of all, Jesus has been the greatest example of service.”

   Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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