CUMBERLAND — Before a crowd of more than 700 supporters, including past and present governors of Georgia and many other dignitaries, education activist Beverly McAfee was awarded the coveted Woman of the Year award during Friday evening’s 32nd Annual Tribute to Women of Achievement held at the Cobb Galleria Centre.
McAfee was one of 15 women who were honored as Women of Achievement for their contributions to their communities by liveSAFE Resources (formerly the YWCA of Northwest Georgia). The goal of liveSAFE Resources, established in 1917, is to create a community free of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse. The Marietta-based organization provides programs and services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse.
The event, which is liveSAFE Resources’ largest annual fundraiser, grossed over $275,000. The event was chaired by Tricia and Mike Pridemore and this year’s honorary chairs were Gov. Nathan Deal and first lady Sandra Deal. Former Gov. Roy Barnes and former first lady Marie Barnes of Marietta were also in attendance, marking a rare occasion for two governors to support the same cause.
The “Open Your Hearts and Purses and Wallets” silent auction featured a selection of more than 320 items, including purses, trips, Atlanta Braves tickets and much more.
“I know that every individual has worth and purpose and strength and hope, but real help can be found right here at home,” Tricia Pridemore said during opening remarks. “liveSAFE Resources does meaningful work in our community. They work to restore dignity, virtue and honor to every individual impacted by abuse. The 32nd Annual Tribute to Women helps them achieve these worthy goals.”
McAfee, born and raised in Marietta, has worked for the betterment of the Cobb County community for more than 50 years. At the age of 25, McAfee and her husband, Don, started McAfee Properties, a real estate and developing firm that has built countless residential and commercial developments around Cobb County. Their homes have been featured in “Better Homes and Gardens” and “Southern Living,” winning numerous local and national awards.
In the community, McAfee is a member of the First United Methodist Church, where she served on numerous committees. For the 175th anniversary of First Methodist, she had a dream of building a replica of the first church and set out on a mission to provide the community with a beautiful chapel and open space called the Park on Polk. Having served on many foundation boards for Kennesaw College, Marietta Schools and The Walker School, McAfee is passionate about education. She founded the nonprofit Marietta Mentoring for Leadership and has dedicated her life to mentoring those around her. The mentoring program matches students with demonstrated potential but limited opportunities with community mentors who encourage and support every student to reach his or her full potential. Marietta Mentoring has served well over 150 students as of today, but McAfee’s goal is for every student in the Marietta School system to have a mentor.
McAfee has been honored with awards including Marietta Citizen of the Year, Distinguished Alumnus of Marietta High School and the Cobb Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award.
Above all, McAfee is most dedicated to Marietta as her motto has always been, “If it can’t be done in Marietta, then it can’t be done!” At the age of 78, she said she has no plans of slowing down and the award has only fueled her desire to help the community even more. She has a daughter, Leigh, and granddaughter, Madison.
McAfee was chosen from among 15 honorees, who were all inducted into the Academy of Women Leaders during the tribute event. The honorees are leaders in business, not-for-profit and volunteer arenas and live and/or work in Cobb, Cherokee or Paulding counties:
♦ Daneea Badio-McCray, Marietta Police Athletic League;
♦ Cathy Bailey, Giving Back Foundation;
♦ Alyssa Barnes, Marietta City Schools;
♦ Jill Case-Wirth, WellStar Health System;
♦ LaBrita Cash-Baskett, Fundamental Focus;
♦ Lynn Flanders, Cobb Marietta Coliseum;
♦ Heidi Green, U.S. Department of Agriculture;
♦ Connie Jackson, Cobb County Association of Educators;
♦ Sabrina Jenkins, Atlanta Braves;
♦ Robin Lattizori, Cobb County School District;
♦ Beverly McAfee, retired;
♦ Jo-Evelyn Morris, retired;
♦ Karmyn Norwood, Lockheed Martin;
♦ Ellen Smith, Holt, Ney, Zatcoff & Wasserman; and
♦ The Honorable Kelli Wolk, Probate Judge, Cobb County Government.
Kate Gaffney received the Pat Head Dignity Award for “Doing the Right Thing” when it comes to serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Gaffney is the manager of the “TPO Project” for Atlanta Legal Aid. Under her leadership, the temporary protective order project has provided critical legal representation for hundreds of victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault and elder abuse. Gaffney also assisted in recruiting and training over 100 attorneys for the project, thereby expanding the base of attorneys available to assist victims in court as they face their abusers.
An emotional Holly Tuchman, CEO of liveSAFE Resources, received a standing ovation as she took the stage Friday night after recovering from a harrowing health saga in 2016. “This is my first opportunity to say thank you,” Tuchman said, from the podium. “Thank you for everyone who advocated for me. I had advocates for me day and night but those who come often don’t have a voice. They don’t have advocates until they walk through our doors. You are the voices for those who have no voice.”