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Community recognizes 1st-generation American at awards: 03/21/2014 08:42:25

Mr_Park_AwardSMYRNA — A first-generation American who fostered the relationship between Cobb County and its South Korean sister county was awarded the Chairman’s Award for Creating Community on Thursday.

Sunny Park, 71, was recognized at Thursday’s Creating Community Awards hosted by the Cobb Board of Commissioners and the Cobb Community Relations Council at the county-owned Windy Hill Community Center.

Park was responsible for initiating the sister program that has seen success in Cobb. Political and business leaders from Cobb and Park’s home county of Seongdon-Gu have visited one another three times each.

The counties are similar in size with Cobb having about 700,000 residents and the South Korean county having about 500,000.

“I thought Cobb County would be a great match,” said Park, a former east Cobb resident who lives in Fulton County.

It’s been a success, he said. Kennesaw State University has sent students to teach English to middle school students for the last nine years. Some South Korean high school students visit Marietta during summers.

The program allows youth to communicate and make friends with peers of different backgrounds, Park said.

County Manager David Hankerson said Park’s civic work extends beyond Cobb County.

Park was appointed by President George W. Brush in 2001 as a commissioner of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific-Islanders. He has also been named an Outstanding Citizen by the state of Georgia twice and founded both the Korean-American School of Atlanta and Good Neighborhood Foundation.

“Sunny’s really engaged … It seems like everyone in the state knows him,” Hankerson said.

Four others were awarded a Creating Community Award. Each Cobb commissioner gave the honor to a different organization or individual they believe promotes diversity.

Commissioner Helen Goreham awarded SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center and Telemundo for working together to fight child abuse and bring awareness to the Spanish-speaking community.

Georgia Community Support and Solutions Art & Food was awarded by Commissioner Bob Ott for its efforts in training adults with developmental disabilities to achieve independence through creativity.

Commissioner JoAnn Birrell awarded The Children’s Bilingual Theater, which provides bilingual theatrical and literacy programming while working to teach tolerance.

Albert McRae III of Mableton, founder of non-profit Amateur Advocate Association, was awarded by Commissioner Lisa Cupid for his program that mentors youth through recreation programs.

About 20 groups or individuals were nominated this year. Award recipients were chosen by an evaluation council, which is separate from the Community Relations Council board, made up of business leaders, representatives from local universities and members of the Marietta Housing Authority.

The award ceremony was created in 2011 when the Community Relations Council was revived after a prolonged period of inactivity.

Chairman’s award

East Cobb businessman Sunny Park for his efforts to foster the relationship between Cobb and its sister county, Seongdon-Gu, in South Korea.

Creating community awards

Helen Goreham: SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center and Telemundo.

Bob Ott: Georgia Community Support and Solutions Art & Food

JoAnn Birrell: The Children’s Bilingual Theater

Lisa Cupid: Albert McRae III

Source: Marietta Daily Journal (3/21/2014)