Civitan International and the Georgia District Area 3 Civitan Clubs (Chattahoochee, East Cobb, Marietta, and North Cobb) awarded the second annual Servant’s Heart Award on June 6. Lorna Heid, founder of Independent Grounds Café in Kennesaw, was honored for her professional work and Marietta’s Katy Lucero was honored for her volunteer work. The award was presented by District Governor Mary Karras at the Mansour Center in Marietta. Kennesaw State University’s Mike Aldrich from the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth, along with Academy student Darien Todd, shared the podium as keynote speakers.

The mission of Civitan International is to support families and individuals affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities. Civitans strive to raise awareness for these families and individuals and to partner with them to ensure their loved one has the highest quality of life possible. Outside of their families, there are few who dedicate more of their lives to serving these individuals than the teachers, paraprofessionals, and vocational teachers who work with and alongside them day in and day out.

The Servant’s Heart Award is a celebration of the unsung heroes in our community who support these families and individuals who are affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities. Nominations were submitted from throughout the area for many deserving individuals whose dedication, joy, compassion and humility left club leaders in awe.

Lorna Heid opened Independent Grounds Café specifically to have a place for her daughter and other young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities to develop a vocation. Most special needs adults want to work but there are only a handful of vocations for them to explore. Heid left her secure career of nearly 20 years as a paralegal to plunge into the world of retail coffee, something she knew little about.

Nominator Carolyn Polakowski of Marietta wrote, “I am in awe of the personal sacrifices she has made for her daughter and all of our daughters and sons living with disabilities.”

Katy Lucero, an 18-year-old from Woodstock, is a competitive gymnast and exceptional student. A recent high school graduate from River Ridge High School, Lucero is looking forward to attending the University of Georgia in the fall. When she was 10, her little brother, Carter, was born and is the joy of her life. He has Down’s Syndrome. Award nominator Cindy Bickman wrote, “(Katy) is an ordinary teen doing extraordinary things.” She volunteers at the Chattooga School of Gymnastics and Dance in Marietta where she is a mentor and coach and spends countless hours as a volunteer with the Special Olympics, traveling with the team and coaching. Her nomination included several heartfelt letters from the special needs youth whose lives she has touched.

For more information about Civitans International, contact Mary Karras, Governor Elect, at 678-689-4978 or MARRYKARRAS@synovus.com.

Sally Litchfield is a longtime Marietta resident. She has written for the MDJ since October 2000. Send Sally news at sallylit@bellsouth.net. Call Sally at 404-713-7318.

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