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Personalia — Jan. 12, 2007 {0604}

Personalia — Jan. 12, 2007 {0604}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Personalia — Jan. 12, 2007

Jan. 12, 2007    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0604}

An e-Review News Item

This series includes:

n Florida pastor receives Emory’s top alumni award;
n Branches leader receives children’s advocacy award

Florida pastor receives Emory’s top alumni award

By Eric Rangus**
ATLANTA — A religious and community leader who has served congregations across Florida for more than 50 years has received Emory University’s highest alumni honor.

The Rev. Gene Zimmerman. Photo #07-504.

Eugene “Gene” Zimmerman, a 1954 graduate of Emory’s Candler School of Theology, was selected by the Emory Alumni Board to receive the Emory Medal, which honors distinguished service to the university and its alumni as well as outstanding professional achievement.

Zimmerman received his medal, along with Sarah Ann Long, a 1969 graduate of Emory’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, during a formal ceremony at the university’s Miller-Ward Alumni House on its Atlanta campus late last year.

Zimmerman has held many pastoral appointments across Florida, including churches in Chiefland, Gainesville, Green Cove Springs, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee. Even after his “retirement” in 1992, Zimmerman held pastoral appointments at Cypress Lake United Methodist Church in Fort Myers, First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville and Trinity Methodist Church in Nassau, Bahamas.

Zimmerman’s travel log reads like a Caribbean adventurer: the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Montserrat, Dutch and French St. Martin, Belize, Cuba. But Zimmerman was not a tourist in these exotic destinations. He traveled to each of these places on preaching missions.
His work helping churches in the Bahamas acquire basic materials to serve their congregations “pews, hymnal, buses and even preachers” earned him the moniker “Godfather of the Bahamas.”

His countless trips throughout the Caribbean in addition to helping congregations, also helped several students journey to this country and attend his alma mater.

Zimmerman has long been an important conduit in introducing not only students, but benefactors, to Emory’s Candler School of Theology. His friendship with Frank and Helen Sherman of Jacksonville led to the establishment of the Sherman Scholarship Endowment, the Sherman Fund for the Ministry of Church and Society and the Florida Preaching Institute, all held by Emory.
Since the establishment of the Sherman Scholarship Endowment in 1984, more than 400 Candler students have received assistance, and nearly one in four students receives a full-tuition scholarship through this program.

“Gene Zimmerman has shown tremendous leadership throughout his career,” says Allison Dykes, vice president for alumni relations at Emory. “His devotion to community has never known bounds, and he represents the ideal of what not only an Emory alumnus should be, but what a person should be. We are proud to present him with the Emory Medal.”

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Zimmerman fought in World War II, including the battle of Okinawa. He attended the University of Florida on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1951. In addition to his Emory degree, Zimmerman holds honorary degrees from two Florida institutions: Florida Southern College and Bethune-Cookman College.

The Emory Medal is the highest University award given exclusively to alumni. The medal is awarded annually by the Association of Emory Alumni (AEA); honorees are selected by the Emory Alumni Board and are recognized for their accomplishments in at least one of the following areas: distinguished service to Emory, the AEA or a constituent alumni association; distinguished community or public service; or distinguished achievement in business, the arts, the professions, government or education.

For nearly two decades Emory has been named one of the country’s top 25 national universities by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to its nine schools, the university encompasses The Carter Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory Healthcare, the state’s largest and most comprehensive health care system.

Branches leader receives children’s advocacy award

By Moriah Meyskens**

MIAMI — Kim Torres has been awarded The Children’s Trust Champions for Children 2006 Child Advocate Excellence Award for her dedication and success in serving at-risk children and families in South Florida.

Kim Torres (second row, third from left) sits surrounded by children who participate in the Branches outreach ministry she leads and their parents. Photo courtesy of South Florida Urban Ministries, Photo #07-505. Web photo only.

Torres directs the Branches ministry in Florida City and oversees the replication of the model.

Branches is a United Methodist-sponsored program run by South Florida Urban Ministries. Based in Florida City, south of Miami, and on the grounds of Florida City United Methodist Church, it offers holistic, multigenerational after-school tutoring and mentoring, college preparation and literacy programs to the children of local farm workers and hospitality employees.

Torres began her work in Florida City during the summer of 1993 after Hurricane Andrew. She says she did not expect to stay in Florida, but due to the persistence of a little boy named Francisco who called her every day asking her to come back, Torres began a weekly outreach program for elementary children at Florida City United Methodist Church.

From that beginning and knowing Florida City had a great need for services for children and youth and their families, Torres created Branches, which has been serving South Florida for more than 10 years and has changed the lives of many.

The Branches program is now being replicated at two other locations in Miami-Dade County, and there are plans to replicate it in more than five locations throughout South Florida in the next three years.

The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County by making strategic investments in their future.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Rangus is on staff at Emory University. Meyskens is director of development for South Florida Urban Ministries.