2022 Heart of the Community unsung heroes: Board of Governors’ honoree Villa Hizer; award of honor winners Norris Allen, Tina Brinson, Business Award honoree Hardy Realty, Lauren Sklar, Scott Thompson and David Thornton.

2022 Heart of the Community unsung heroes: Board of Governors’ honoree Villa Hizer; award of honor winners Norris Allen, Tina Brinson, Business Award honoree Hardy Realty, Lauren Sklar, Scott Thompson and David Thornton.


Media release: On Saturday, Feb. 26, seven of Rome’s “unsung” heroes will be honored at the Heart of the Community Awards of Honor gala called An Affair of the Heart.  For 36 years, Redmond Regional Medical Center has sponsored these awards to recognize and honor individuals whose commitment through volunteer service has made this community a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

Our 2022 recipients include: Rev. Norris Allen, Tina Brinson, Board of Governors’ honoree Villa Hizer, Business Award honoree Hardy Realty, Lauren Sklar, Scott Thompson and David Thornton. You’ll find their profiles and good works below.

Villa Sulzbacher Hizer


Villa Sulzbacher Hizer,
Board of Governors’ Award

A native Roman whose family came to Rome in the 1830s,  Villa graduated Thornwood School, now Darlington, and earned her B.A. degree in mathematics at the University of Georgia.  She and her late husband, Courtney, owned and operated North Georgia Distributing Co., a beer and wine wholesale company for 28 years.

She continues to serve on the following Board of Directors:

Boys & Girls Clubs of NW GA -38 years -Received a Distinguished Service Award Chieftains Museum serving as President and Treasurer and now on advisory board
Community Foundation for Greater Rome
University of Georgia Libraries Board of Visitors

Other community involvement has included:
Greater Rome Chamber
Women in Management
Leadership Rome
Darlington School Alumni Council
Darlington Distinguished Alumni Award
Leadership Darlington
American Cancer Society
Heart of the Community
Rome Area Heritage Foundation
Summit Quest
Regions Bank
Junior Service League   Sustainer of the Year 1997
Historic Desoto Theatre Foundation
Georgia Beer Wholesalers

Supporter of many non-profits

Leisure Activities:
Seven Hills Garden Club
Co-Vestors Investment Club
Bonneville Land Speed Racing


Norris Allen

Rev. Norris Allen, Award of Honor  

Norris is a native of Calhoun County, Ala.  He received his elementary education in Floyd County and attended Main High School.

He and his wife, Gladys, have been married for 60 years and are the parents of 5 boys and one girl. He received certification in Electrical Wiring and certifications in Blueprint and Design.  He also earned a certificate in Interior Decorating Design.

His activities include:

-Rome Historical Museum
-Hope Ministries
-Southern Christian Leadership Conference Minister’s Council
– Founded Northwest Georgia Minority Business Association
– Founded Camp Sirron-a camp to teach current and past history to youth
– Founded Martin Luther King Christian Celebration
-Founded Student of Excellence Scholarship Foundation

Nominators: “Norris has been recognized with 50 proclamations from Rome and other cities.  He is a champion for diversity and acceptance.”

Tina Brinson

Tina Brinson, Award of Honor

Tina Brinson has been described as a giving selfless person volunteering for years behind the scenes. Her activities include:

-Sexual Assault Center-Past Chairperson and Fundraising volunteer
-Rome Celebrity Dancing with the Stars
-Producer of plays at Rome Little Theatre
-Darlington School-Parent Teachers Association and Fund Raising committee
-Volunteer with Berry Half Marathon
-Volunteer and Fundraising for Northwest Georgia Boys Scouts
-St. Mary’s School board Member and fund raising
-Volunteer with Underground Rome Tours

Tina is married to Rob Brinson and they are the parents to Maggie Grace and Madison.

Nominator: “Tina has been volunteering for years. She remains calm in all situations.  When Tina volunteers, her whole family volunteers.”


Lauren Sklar


Lauren Sklar

Lauren is a native of Rome and a graduate of West Rome High School. She attended Converse College and received a master’s degree from the University of West Georgia. Lauren is married to Marc Sklar and they are the parents of Abby and Emma.

Her community activities include:

-Junior Service League past president and a Sustainer of the Year recipient.

-First Baptist Church — Deacon, missions teacher, Sunday School teacher, Women of the Church chairperson and chairperson of the flower committee.

-Leadership Rome graduate and Leadership Rome coordinator

-Darlington School parent

Nominator: “Lauren is adaptable and flexible no matter what comes her way. She loves and is passionate for this community.”


Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson

A native of Marietta, Scott attended Young Harris College, majoring in Theatre. He and His wife, Dana, share their home with “five fur babies.” Scott is known as a singer-songwriter community advocate and champion of all things Rome.

His activities include:

-Christmas Back Home Concert free tickets to Davies Homeless Shelters and Open Door Home
-“Sing for Your Supper” fundraiser concert for Community Kitchen-Thus far has raised $20,000.00
-Board member and Events Chairman of Coosa River Basin Committee
-Volunteer and Board of Rome Area Council for the Arts
-Member of Downtown Development Authority Promotion
-Originator of Brown Bag Concerts
-Mentor for local high school student

Nominator: “Scott’s passion for creating change for the better and changing the status quo has brought vibrancy to downtown Rome.  His passion for serving the community cannot be denied.”

David Thornton


David Thornton is a native of Rome. He and his wife, Teresa, have five children and 13 grandchildren. His community activities include:

-Chaplain:  Floyd County Police Department
Floyd County Sheriff’s Office
Gordon County Sheriff’s Office
Metro Drug Task Force
-Georgia Homeland Security Division
-Sr. Chaplain Emeritus Georgia Sheriff’s Association
-Armuchee High Football Team

-Leader of Mission Trips to Israel and Greece

-Founder of Essential Church for First Responders
-Leads local ministers in service at the jail and other local needs in the community
-Active in Rome GA Cares Program for Hurricane Relief
-Vice-President Rome Noon Optimist Club
-Referee for High School Basketball
-Volunteer Coach

Nominator: “He takes care of our officers and their families, the incarcerated, our community, and other communities. We are so very fortunate to have someone as selfless as David Thornton here in Floyd County. He truly cares about ALL people and takes action to make lives better.”

Hardy Realty

Hardy Realty recently developed a company initiative that focuses on volunteer work, community service and donations. CEO Jimmy Byars has spent years contributing his time to this community and has cultivated a strong volunteer ethic among his agents and staff.

They will often be seen volunteering or donating to the following:

DaviesHome Shelters                                                     Desoto Theatre
Free Clinic                                                                     Open Door Home
One Community United                                             Sexual Assault Center
Heart of the Community                                            Junior Service League
Java Joy of Rome                                                         TRED of Rome
United Way                                                                   Cancer Navigators
American Red Cross                                                    South Rome Redevelopment
Elevation House                                                          South Rome Early Learning Center
Boys and Girls ClubRome International Film Festival
Boy Scouts                                                                   Keep Rome Beautiful
Shakespeare Festival                                                  Habitat for Humanity
One Table Rome                                                          CRBI

Nominator: “Jimmy Byars, CEO, works to ensure this community is positioned for growth and the future while providing help to those living  in the shadows and on the fringes.”

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