Patty Virginia Sarden was honored on Wednesday (Dec. 12) for her service to make the local community a better place to live as she was presented the Greene County Women of Courage Award.
Sarden was presented the award during a ceremony at Tusculum College. The Award is presented by Tusculum’s Center for Civic Advancement, and the award selection process was a project for two students in a service-learning course at the college, Karen Henninger and Heather MacArthur.
“Overall, Pattty Sarden is an outstanding member of the Greene County community,” the two students said.
Accepting the award, Sarden described herself as an “ordinary person.” “I have accepted little responsibilities during my life, but little becomes much when it is placed in the Father’s hand,” she said. ‘Thank you for this award.”
In presenting the award, Henninger and MacArthur described Sarden’s varied service to the community. Sarden was the first president of the George Clem Scholarship Foundation, and was involved with the foundation in the 1980s and helped reorganize it in the 1990s. Sarden helped in the fundraising for scholarships and in selecting the scholarship recipients. She was also part of the reunion committee for the George Clem community.
Born in Limestone and raised in Baileyton, Sarden is the oldest of six children and her commitment to service comes from her grandfather who always told here she could do anything and filled her with the desire to serve others. She was the first black woman to work in television electronics at what was then the Magnavox Company factory in Greeneville.
Sarden, who is married to Jimmy Sarden and has three sons, possesses both artistic and musical creative talent that she has used to serve others. An amateur artist, she gets involved in Black History Month each year by displaying her artwork in the Nathanael Greene Museum in downtown Greeneville.
She writes and recites poetry in the community, and has been involved in a writing correspondence course with children. Sarden also writes children’s stories and Christmas skits. She was the talent coordinator for the Miss Ebony Pageant, which provides girls with an opportunity to present their talents and compete for a scholarship.
A self-taught pianist who started playing at age 11, Sarden is minister of music at Jones Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church and volunteers to play at weddings, funerals, and social events. She has plans to write and direct the first all-black musical in Greeneville to give talented individuals in the George Clem community and other areas of Greene County the opportunity to share their talents and be recognized.
Sarden is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. She was involved with the Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society from 1999 to 2003 in efforts to teach children how to be good members of the community and have a consciousness of what is right and wrong.
The two students received several nominations from the community for the award. In opening the ceremony, Tusculum Interim President Dr. Russell Nichols told the nominees that each one deserved to receive the award and thanked them for their service of others, which improves the quality of life in the community.
Each of the nominees was recognized, and presented a rose and a certificate from Henninger and MacArthur.
- Amy Bowman, a member of the Greene County Humane Society who educates children about the proper care of animals and the importance of getting animals spayed and neutered;
- Patricia Braxton, a volunteer who makes cards to help brighten the lives of people in the community;
- Carolyn Brooks, who volunteers with the Wing of Angels, which provides school clothes and supplies to needy children in Greene County and is also a member of the American Women’s Business Association;
- Matilda Greene, secretary of the Greeneville Arts Council and a member of the board of directors of the Greene County Humane Society, who is also helping raise funds for the creation of the Greeneville Skate Park;
- Renee Lowery, who is an active member of her church and works for Takoma Regional Hospital;
- Anna Maddox, a key volunteer at the Mission Soup Kitchen at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church;
- Sherry Melton, president of the Greeneville Skate Park Association, which is working to provide the park as a positive place for young people to spend time;
- Dotti Pawlicki, a volunteer for U-Turn for Christ, an organization which helps women overcome difficulties with drugs, eating disorders, and other problems, and for Keep Greene Beautiful and the Opportunity House;
- Jean Peeks, the creator of the Women’s Club Widows that gives widows a place to find support and meet with other widows in the Greene County area; and
- Kay Shackelford, who started the Helping Hands Foundation that provides clothes and other services for those in need.
This is the third Women of Courage Award that has been presented. The first honored Mary Jane Coleman, who established the Sinking Creek Film Festival, and the second recognized Lillian Taylor for her work in the community promoting peace and her service to the Andrew Johnson Heritage Association.