Published Friday, February 08, 2013

Citizen of Year: Friends share observations about Hickman

•  Said Joel Richardson, pastor Central Baptist Church: “Bette has led the ‘Little Lambs’ Sunday school class for over 20 years. These 4- and 5-year-old children come into the class, and she gives them a lamb. They keep this lamb with them until they graduate from her class. She leads them in ways that they can identify object lessons with scripture using her art. She literally paints the words. She translates the Bible into art so the children can understand the scriptures. Because of her creativity, she easily communicates with the children.”

• Said Tippi Conner, director of the Pre-School Sunday School Department at Central Baptist: “Bette has faithfully taught Sunday School for the 4- and 5-year-olds for over 20 years. Her class is called the ‘Little Lambs.’ She is dependable and creative, the children love her activities, and they always come back to see her after they have graduated. I have enjoyed working with Bette for all these years. I never have to worry about the children because I know Bette is always there for them.”

• Said Margaret Ross, chairperson for the LaGrange-Troup Chamber of Commerce International Committee: “I nominated Bette for the ‘Gracious Lady of Georgia’ award for which she was the recipient in April 2005. This award has been around for 30 years, and its purpose is to recognize women in Georgia who give of themselves and are good servants. Bette is certainly this and more. I have always known Bette to give of her time so willingly, and I consider her a dear friend and an angel.”

• Said Geraldine Welch, former associate director, Global Achievers: “I have worked with Bette so closely with Achievers. I do not know how she accomplishes all that she does. She is a very driven person. I know she is at the Capitol every Tuesday morning during the legislative session soliciting money for Achievers. She has taken students and adults to Scotland, England, Ireland, Spain and to China. During one of these trips, she spoke to a group of more than 5,000 Chinese educators. She is truly remarkable. Bette started the Mentor Program and the Business Partnership with Schools Program for the school system. She is involved in so many aspects of this community. Bette truly is a person who puts her community and its citizens’ interests first.”

• Said Tisa Stripling, Wild Women of Newnan chair: “Bette founded this group with her friends, Geraldine Welch and Cheryl Vickers, in 2001. They knew there were women in the local area that were making a difference in the community, and they wanted to gather them together to celebrate their accomplishments and the opportunities they have to give back to the community. A charitable organization is chosen and spotlighted at the party. Donations are collected to raise awareness of its needs. I have just recently taken over the position of organizing the next event, and I look forward to working with her and others in our community.”

• Said Jim McGuffey, former Coweta County Commission chairman: “The Sister County/City relationship that Newnan and Coweta County has with South Ayrshire, Scotland, came directly from Bette’s work with Global Achievers. She has done so much to do goodwill for our community and our students. She had the support of Gov. Roy Barnes of the Achiever Program when it was first started – it was the first of its kind in the state. I have seen her at the Capitol soliciting funds for Achievers, and she always has a smile on her face as she meets with the legislators. She is a good ambassador for our community.”

• Said Keith Brady, Mayor of Newnan: “Bette Hickman played a key role in establishing the Sister City relationship between the City of Newnan and the Town of Ayr, Scotland. The city and its citizens have benefited from the cultural ties and interaction with the citizens of Ayr, Scotland. Bette’s organizational and people skills were tremendous assets in ensuring the success of the many events we have hosted in this community. It is for this reason that the City Council of Newnan appointed Bette to chair the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission.”

• Said Ben Green, former director of the Coweta County Recreation Department: “I came to Newnan in 1970, and Bette came a few years after that. Tom Powers had been teaching art at the Rec Center to adults, and Bette came in and started teaching the children. She taught both of my girls art when they were young, and they loved her. All the children thought she was great. She made them feel good no matter what level artist they were or how good (or bad) their art really was. She always complimented them and encouraged them.”

• Said Carl McKnight, director of the Coweta County Recreation Department: “I have been here since 1993, and Bette was already working here. She teaches several times a week, and the children are always standing in line to enroll in her classes. She teaches children ages five through 6th grade. She really puts her whole heart into everything she does. Even though the new Art House is much larger than where she originally taught, I still don’t think it would be large enough to hold all the children that want to take lessons from her.”

• Said Katie Barron Brady, friend and co-nominator: “I have known Bette ever since she and her husband John moved to Newnan because they are in my church. I have always been amazed at how much Bette can do in just one day. She smiles constantly, and she is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. I really got to know Bette during the time the City of Newnan was developing their sister-city relationship with South Ayrshire, Scotland. I was amazed at how efficient she was, how many people she knew, and how excited she was for us to have this international connection. She accompanied us to Ayr for the ceremony, and it truly would not have been as delightful a trip if Bette had not been there. She knew where to go, who to see – everything was meticulously planned. We all had a wonderful time and made lifelong friends in Ayr. I really think Bette can do anything. I see her work at church. I’ve seen her teach art to one of my children. She is just as comfortable being around small children as when she was with Prince Philip of England. She is a true leader who doesn’t look for the credit in accomplishments.”

• Said John Thrasher, friend and co-nominator: “I have known of Bette Hickman for more than 20 years and have had the pleasure to work with Bette on a number of community projects. Bette’s integrity and concern for others, coupled with her creativity and boundless energy, is nothing short of remarkable. Bette works day in and day out to make a difference in our community. I’m proud to nominate Bette for Citizen of the Year.”

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