The 8th Annual Franklin Tomorrow Exemplary Community Volunteer Awards and Volunteer Spirit Awards took place on Wednesday, July 30th at  the Franklin Theatre.

For his dedication to the Downtown Neighborhood Association, Franklin’s Charge, Heritage Foundation, and numerous other civic endeavors, Ernie Bacon was honored with the Anne T. Rutherford Exemplary Community Volunteer Award

Receiving the inaugural Franklin Tomorrow Business Legacy Awards were Caroline Cross and Walter “Joey” Davis. Cross was the founder and volunteer executive director for 16 years for Leadership Franklin, which has produced more than 350 graduates who are involved in a variety of community organizations and efforts.

Davis, retiring Aug. 31 after 20 years as Williamson County trustee, was honored for that role, but also for his tireless work for a variety of community organizations, ranging from the Franklin Lions Club, My Friend’s House, United Way of Williamson County, the Williamson County Fair, and Mercy Community Healthcare.

Other award recipients included:

Volunteer Spirit Awards
Margaret Bugbee–for volunteering for 17 years at Graceworks Ministries
Craig Owens–for his tireless service to the Franklin Police Volunteers and the men and women of the Franklin Police Department
Robert “Bob” Rudman for his work with the Heritage Foundation, Serra Club, and Good Neighbor Foundation.

Youth Initiative Award
Lathram Berry-nominated by New Hope Academy, where she has volunteered every day after school and all summer in the aftercare enrichment program.

Samantha Ponder-honored for organizing a local 5K race to benefit Snowball Express, which provides an all-expenses paid trip for children of fallen service men and women. Her efforts mean 80 additional children will benefit from this experience, which she and her sister Elizabeth had after the 2005 tragic death of their father, Master Sgt. Tre Ponder.

 Ned Lea Lifetime Achievement Awards (presented posthumously)
Pat Hesson– a longtime member of the banking community in Williamson County who was involved in a number of organizations and activities, died at the age of 88 in December 2013. She is remembered as one of the original banking pioneers in customer service, starting with Williamson County Bank. She was Sponsorship Chair for Relay for Life for many years, member of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and Ambassador for Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce.

Gracie Atkinson-who died unexpectedly at the age of 13 in January of this year, was honored for her commitment to myLIFEspeaks, an organization started by former Franklin residents Mike and Missy Wilson to operate a family-style orphanage near Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. The Wilsons recently moved to Haiti to work full-time at the orphanage

The Ned Lea Lifetime Achievement Award is presented posthumously to recognize individuals who have had a significant impact for one organization or on their community through their life. They exemplify a heart of service and a dedication to the community at large.

Civic Group Award
Soroptimist International of Franklin–for its work with a variety of organizations and to call attention to human trafficking through a partnership with End Slavery Tennessee.

Corporate Volunteer Teams
Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp–nominated by Community Child Care Center of Franklin for its work with other United Way of Williamson County agencies.

 Individual Corporate Volunteer Award
Daryl Walny of Carbine & Associates–for his work with Operation Finally Home. In 2013, Walny spent seven months supervising construction of a home in the Arrington community for U.S. Air Force SSGT Luke Van Dorston and his young family. Van Dorston flew 140 combat missions and was involved in combat engagements which earned him two Bronze Stars, one with valor for heroism. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2011, and suffers from PTSD.

About Franklin Tomorrow
Franklin Tomorrow is the community visioning nonprofit which seeks to engage the community, foster collaboration, and advocate for a shared vision for the future of Franklin. That shared vision includes a vibrant economy, distinct character, robust neighborhoods, and great people. Visit their Web site at