When Christians recite the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for help, guidance and protection. “Give us this day our daily bread; lead us not into temptation; deliver us from evil,” and we start with a covenant: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Those words become newly meaningful when you see them lived, not just spoken.
Each year the Foundation of Wesley Woods honors those who make earth a little bit like heaven at its Heroes, Saints & Legends fundraiser. The event supports its mission to provide safe, nurturing homes for elderly residents, most of whom need financial assistance. Wesley Woods, founded in 1954 by the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church and Emory University, serves residents in Atlanta, Augusta, Athens, Blairsville, Roswell and Newnan.
“The work of Wesley Woods is more important now as Georgia wrestles with having the fastest growing population of older adults in the country without the number or the quality of resources to age well,” said Tracy Crump, president and CEO of the Foundation of Wesley Woods. “It’s a privilege to recognize these iconic leaders, all of whom credit an older adult for their accomplishments, as well as to raise awareness and funds to care for those who have cared for us.”
This year’s event, held March 30 at the St. Regis, honored Hank M. Huckaby, former chancellor of the University System of Georgia; Bishop John H. Adams and Dolly Desselle Adams; and Ann Q. Curry, chairman and chief client strategist at Coxe Curry & Associates. It raised more than $260,000 for initiatives including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease research and education programs.
Huckaby spoke first, and began by saluting his fellow honorees.
“Bishop Adams was a bishop for 32 years; 32 years of putting up with all those preachers! I don’t know what you did to hack off God,” he joked. Then he paid tribute to his bride, Amy, saying, “If she doesn’t come to her senses in the next four days, come Sunday we will have been married 52 years. I’m a Methodist. I’m proud of it. I was born a Methodist. I was named after a Methodist preacher. I went to a Methodist college and married a Methodist girl. If I’m fortunate, if God continues to be faithful to me, I’ll die a Methodist.”
He closed with the wisdom of John Wesley: “Do all the good you can, for as long as you can, for as many as you can.”
Curry noted her work with non-profit organizations began with Wesley Woods.
“I have had an enormously lucky life, ever so lucky in who my parents were and the values they stood for. Lucky to have grown up in a home with my grandmother, who was my own hero, saint and legend, who pushed me toward excellence but also toward service,” she said. “One of my first clients was Wesley Woods and I have loved them ever since.”
The Adamses were heralded for their work in education, civil rights and social justice. Dolly Adams’ mother spent her final years in a Wesley Woods facility.
“She was a very independent woman and she knew what she wanted,” she said. “She decided the best in the city was Wesley Woods. She absolutely loved it.”
John Adams’ remarks brought to mind Psalm 100: “Make a joyful noise.”
“That young lady you just heard has put up with me for over 60 years. I married her when she was 1,” he quipped. “I really want to applaud the Foundation of Wesley Woods and all of you for having the audacity and the nerve for including me in something called ‘Heroes, Saints and Legends.’ John Adams, that rascal, is a saint? Thank you very much for giving me an honor I do not deserve and making me feel like I am somebody .. when I already know it!”
After the laughter and applause quieted, Adams concluded with a touching benediction: “I thank you for the admirable way that enlightened care for older people has been implemented at Wesley Woods. I applaud you for the good work you continue to do. God bless you and keep you in his watchful care.”
How you can help: Donations in support of the mission of Wesley Woods are still being accepted at https://wesleywoods.thankyou4caring.org/heroes.