LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix recognized 6 associates with the Mr. George Community Service Award during the company’s recent annual stockholders’ meeting.
Publix founder George Jenkins, affectionately known as Mr. George, believed that Publix and its associates should make a difference in the communities they serve. And he set the example by giving of his time, talent and treasures. To recognize associates who exemplify his commitment to service, Publix established the Mr. George Community Service Award in 1995. Since then, 141 associates have received this prestigious honor.
“As a company, part of our mission is to be involved as responsible citizens in our communities,” shared Publix CEO Todd Jones. “Mr. George’s philosophy was simply to give, without receiving anything in return. The work these extraordinary associates perform continues his legacy of giving back.”
About the award
Each year, one associate from each retail division and one support associate are recognized with the award. These associates are actively involved in their communities, display personal integrity and represent the generous spirit of Publix’s late founder. Recipients receive a personalized award, a feature in an internal company publication, dinner with Publix executives, three days off with pay and $5,000 donated to the charity or charities of their choosing.
Ben Robb, store manager, Madison, Alabama — Atlanta Division
Robb currently serves on the board of directors of United Way of Madison County as the campaign chair and community impact chair. To assist people in his community hit hard during the pandemic, he created a bicycle challenge to collect bikes to benefit Christmas Charities Year Round. Through Robb’s leadership, more than 700 families were able to receive bicycles and toys for the holiday season.
Kelsey Palmer, assistant customer service manager, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina — Charlotte Division
While involved in several community service activities, Palmer is passionate about helping veterans. In addition to volunteering with VA hospitals, she also supports the Fisher House, a home away from home for families of veterans receiving care at the local VA center.
Rhett Bagwell, store manager, Tallahassee, Florida — Jacksonville Division
Bagwell joined the board of United Way of the Big Bend in 2017 and has been actively involved since then. He volunteers with the Reading Pals program mentoring struggling readers, from preschoolers to third graders.
Stacy Bidwell, assistant customer service manager, North Port, Florida — Lakeland Division
Bidwell is actively involved with All Faiths Food Bank, working to alleviate hunger in her community. She recently began working with the Women’s Resource Center, an organization helping clients rebuild their lives after domestic violence and sexual assault.
Erika Serkin, store manager, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida — Miami Division
As an involved parent, Serkin is a member of the parent-teacher organization and sits on the School Advisory Council. She also volunteers at Title 1 schools in her area, organizing food and clothing drives for the children and their families.
Melanie Bonanno, director of Employment Law & Investigations — Support
Bonanno is a founding board member of Angels for Change, an organization which has helped children get access to lifesaving medications through advocacy, awareness and a resilient supply chain. She also serves on the advisory board of the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) of Brandon, Florida, where she’s chaired their annual Thanksgiving event since 2016.