Berry wins top honor from Lions Club International

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

For Rick Berry, being a part of the McDonough Lions Club is a chance to make a positive impact on those around him.

McDonough Lions Club Treasurer Lewis Strickland, at left, presents the Melvin Jones Fellowship to the club’s Secretary, Rick Berry. Special photo

“It’s a way for me to give back to the community and serve others,” he says. “It’s all about giving back to the community, and that’s the way we all feel about it.”

Berry’s efforts recently led to his being chosen as the latest recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship, the highest honor bestowed by Lions Club International. The distinction, named for the organization’s founder, recognizes outstanding humanitarian and community service.

Berry, a member of the Lions Club for five years and current club secretary, says he was “stunned” to receive the award.

“I was real honored to get that,” says Berry, of McDonough. “I appreciate the club’s consideration in presenting me with the award. It’s a real pleasure to work with such a great group of men and women who want to give of themselves to the community. I’m honored to be among them.”

Berry retired from the Georgia Department of Human Resources in 1999. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, retiring as a Command Sergeant Major E-9 in 2004.

Berry is also the Lions Club’s chairman for the annual Geranium Festival in downtown McDonough. He says one reason he values the Melvin Jones Fellowship so much is because it is given by past winners of the award.

“That makes it even more important to me,” he says.

Raye Reed recently became the president of the McDonough Lions Club. She commended Berry for his dedication to the group.

“He’s a great asset to the club,” says Reed. “He’s put in countless hours of work on the Geranium Festival for several years. He has exceptional organizational skills, and his efforts allow us to continue to provide service to the McDonough community.”

Reed adds that, through Berry’s leadership, the Lions Club was able to donate all proceeds from last month’s Geranium Festival for various projects in the area.

Lions Club member Ed Galbreath is on the festival committee with Berry, and is also a past recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship. Galbreath voiced high praise for Berry’s contributions to the group.

“He is so deserving of this honor,” says Galbreath. “He does so much with the Lions Club and especially the Geranium Festival, but he is also the American Legion Commander in McDon-ough. He is such an incredible person.”

Berry says he is thankful for the opportunity with his colleagues in the Lions Club.

“We all enjoy what we do,” he says. “Sometimes it’s hard work, but it’s very rewarding for everybody.”