February is Service and Volunteerism Month for the Georgia Children’s Cabinet. The Cabinet was seeking a way to promote the importance of service as well as recognize those who selflessly contribute to bettering their community, thus the First Lady’s Servant’s Heart Award was created to celebrate these outstanding young people. First Lady Sandra Deal selected “With a Servant’s Heart” as her platform to encompass all groups who are working together to ensure our children and families have the opportunity to thrive. The Cabinet was seeking to recognize individuals who had not only volunteered their time, but committed to seeing a positive change within their community. The county commissioners across the state were engaged to nominate one youth from their county who exemplified a “Servant’s Heart” to be entered into the inaugural statewide competition.
The Cabinet received twenty one entries of the county level Servant’s Heart winners. As the First Lady says, “the best exercise for the heart is service to others,” and these young people have certainly dedicated a lot of time to helping others. They began new nonprofits, fed the poor, stood up for the innocent, and worked to be an agent of change within their communities. They are each truly incredible Georgians. The county First Lady Servant’s Heart Award winners are Carliann Paige Broome of Banks County, Courtney Jane Folsom of Barrow County, Julie Ann Akins of Berrien County, Rodney Kimbrough of Brooks County, Jarrett Brannen Cartee of Bulloch County, Emily Barnes of Butts County, Ashley Thigpen of Charlton County, Zach White of Chattooga County, Alison Popham of Douglas County, Virginia Ingram of Floyd County, Josselyn Garcia of Gwinnett County, Abby Myers of Grady County, Sarah Grace Rowe of Heard County, Tanner Korb of Lamar County, Ishani Rewatkar of Muscogee County, Jodi Hearn of Pike County, Brenten Wilcher of Rockdale County, Rachel Diane Ayers of Stephens County, Emma Venable of Toombs County, Sarah Holton of Treutlen County, and Breonna Sanders of Wayne County.
From those 21 exemplary kids, one stood above the rest. First Lady Deal selected Jarrett Brannen Cartee from Bulloch County as the first statewide First Lady’s Servant’s Heart Award winner. Jarrett’s dedicated service to volunteerism began at an early age when he began volunteering at his church and joined the 4-H Club in the fifth grade. The 4-H motto, “To Make the Best Better” has been Jarrett’s foundation for life since his first meeting and continues to shape his life. Jarrett has aided his community in many ways including serving Thanksgiving meals to the needy, volunteering at the Bulloch County Special Olympics, and working fundraisers to help pay for other’s traumatic medical expenses. Community Service Chairman for the Senior Club is one of the many leadership roles he has taken on all while being an honor student, joint enrolled at Georgia Southern University, and in the work-study program at Statesboro High School. He has received the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizenship Award and was in the Youth Bulloch Leadership Chamber of Commerce Class. When Jarrett’s best friend, Sam Simms, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma two years ago, Jarrett organized a fundraiser to help Sam’s family with medical expenses. When Sam’s cancer came back last spring, Jarrett once again decided to do what he could to help raise funds by designing a t-shirt and hosting another event to help pay for Sam’s medical treatments. Sadly Sam passed away, but Jarrett’s kind and generous efforts left a lasting impression. First Lady Deal and the Children’s Cabinet are privileged to showcase Jarrett’s “Servant’s Heart” as well as his wonderful deeds and celebrate him as the 2014 winner of the First Lady’s Servant’s Heart Award!