Anyone who talks to Julie Ferguson will soon find out that she doesn’t like the spotlight.
Ferguson, like many other volunteers, prefers to work collaboratively behind the scenes.
For over three decades, she has spent her spare time helping out where she can, sewing masks for United Way of Hall County, overseeing the Wisdom Project 2030 Plan in a Can and serving on boards. local non-profit administration. On Thursday, July 8, she helped several members of the First Presbyterian Church Gainesville and the Wisdom Project 2030 paint bowls for the upcoming Georgia Mountain Food Bank Empty Bowl Lunch.
âHe’s a person of action,â said Jessica Dudley, President and Professional CEO of United Way. “If she sees a need, she escalates, systematically.”
United Way of Hall County recently named Ferguson the association’s 2019-20 Volunteer of the Year. Dudley said Ferguson helped organize a women’s group to cut and sew more than 1,000 masks during the fall of 2020. The face covers were distributed to children and adults throughout the Hall through March 2021. .
âI knew she must have sewn at least 500 masks, she was shaking them,â Dudley said. ââ¦ It’s really inspiring to see all she’s done in the community. We really wanted to thank her for taking this initiative and responding to the need. She’s just selfless.
Ferguson is also participating in a mental health first aid training program through United Way and the Wisdom 2030 project. Sessions are funded by a grant from the Cresswind Community Fund and take place every two weeks from July to November. Ferguson said the goal is to train 500 people.
âThere is such a need for this awareness of people with mental health issues,â Ferguson said. âWe are trying to educate people on how to monitor this. This has been central to what I have been doing for the past 6 to 12 months. It’s really exciting to see this come together.
Those wishing to register for the free training can visit unitedwayhallcounty.org or email Teigha Snowden at [email protected] The next class is Friday July 16.
Ferguson said she started volunteering for United Way in the 1980s, just after moving from Atlanta to Gainesville. Until her retirement five years ago, she worked at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in the IT department. Its role was to automate electronic patient records.
Ferguson said one of his first assignments in town was leading the United Way campaign at the medical center. She was addicted.
âThey are (United Way) an umbrella organization that covers and helps so many different areas,â Ferguson said. “I think they’re really good at evaluating how to help an organization grow and take care of their customers effectively.”
In 2015, Ferguson said he joined Wisdom Project 2030, a community improvement group made up of people 55 and older. Membership involves completing a series of eight one-day sessions that involve exploring local issues and opportunities and engaging with leaders in business, industry, agriculture, education, health care, social services, the arts and more. Upon completion of the program, participants become a guardian of wisdom.
The organization has implemented many initiatives in Gainesville, including âPlan in a Canâ in 2019. In partnership with the Northeast Georgia Health System, Wisdom Keeper volunteers collected boxes of discarded tennis balls and used them to make emergency kits to store medical information.
In December 2020, Wisdom Project 2030 joined with United Way and Forum Communications to deliver letters of encouragement to residents of Hall’s long-term care facilities and senior residences. Students from schools in the town of Gainesville, members of a few local churches, staff at Brenau University, and others in Hall created the handwritten letters.
Carol Hanlon, former president of Wisdom Project 2030, said she is proud of the organization’s group of volunteers and enjoys working with Ferguson, whom she describes as “far too modest.”
âShe’s done so much,â Hanlon said. âJulie is a longtime resident of Gainesville and she is always looking for ways to connect with people to make things better for our community. She has a lot of energy and I love her to death.
Ferguson has served on several boards of local groups including Elachee Nature Science Center, Center Point, First Presbyterian Church Gainesville, United Way of Hall County, Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County, and Wisdom Project 2030.
For those who want to get involved in the community, she recommends participating in the Wisdom Project 2030 agenda and connecting with a nonprofit that aligns with a passion.
Now retired with her husband in Gainesville, Ferguson said she spent most of her time volunteering, playing bridge and spoiling her four grandchildren.
âWe are very happy,â she said. âWe wouldn’t live anywhere else.