Laura Richards has been honored by the Carroll County and Carrollton Evening Sertoma (Service To Mankind) Clubs with the Service To Mankind Award for 2018. The award recognizes local philanthropists for their works in the community and at large.
As a native of Carrollton, Richards has been a community leader for volunteerism and outreach for much of her life, even while studying and working abroad. During 2009, she had a vision of building a paved beltway around Carrollton for walking, running and biking. It would connect schools, businesses and recreational facilities and would have no socio-economic boundaries. By 2011, her vision became a reality as the Friends of the Carrollton Greenbelt was formed through the Community Foundation of West Georgia. As founder and chair, she would oversee the development and construction of the 18-mile recreational trail, which was completed by 2016. It is the largest greenspace initiative undertaken by the City of Carrollton and currently the largest paved trail system in Georgia.
“Laura and her family have positively impacted our community in so many ways,” said Jim Gill, Past President for Sertoma International and the Carroll County Sertoma Club. “Her passion for greenspace and conservation is rivaled by few. This award is long overdue.”
Laura Richards’ interest in greenspace and conservation is nothing new. She has served as a member of the Georgia and Alabama Land Trust, a member of the national board for Trust for Public Land and the PATH Foundation in Atlanta. She has also received numerous awards for her efforts including the Karl T. Steiner Award for Service to Anthropology from UWG, the Carroll County Chamber Beautification Award, Georgia Recreation & Parks Association Volunteer of the Year, and most recently, Road Runners of America recognized the Greenbelt while designating Carrollton a “Top-5 Runner Friendly Community” in the nation.
Richards continues to support the Alice Huffard Richards Charitable Fund, Tanner Medical Foundation and the Carroll County Board of Health while she and her husband, Jim Naughton reside between Carrollton, Georgia and New York City, New York.
Sertoma (Service to Mankind) was established in 1912 as the Cooperative Club in Kansas City, Missouri. Now, Sertoma clubs can be found throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Historically, the organization has focused on speech and hearing health problems, particularly in children, but has since adopted programs targeting drug-use education and projects promoting freedom and democracy to school-aged children. Local Sertoma clubs also sponsor and support teen and collegiate clubs in area schools.