Board members and community volunteers of Keep Liberty Beautiful said farewell to Executive Director Sara Swida Thursday, prior to announcing their volunteers of the year awards.
The reception, at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, recognized Swida for her service to the community with KLB. Swida had announced her retirement earlier this year.
“You have truly turned our community into a complete jewel,” board member Genese Baker said. “We’ve been honored statewide and nationally for some of the things you’ve done, and it has been incredible.”
Baker said the board was sad to see her go and that her departure will leave a hole in their hearts and said Swida will be missed by all.
“I’m proud of the fact that I hired Sara,” Board Chairman Dave Sapp said in between jokes. “It was one of the best hires I ever made.”
County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette called Swida a role model for those in her position across the nation.
“I had the opportunity to go to the national convention in Orlando one year with you. I sat there and saw her among her peers and they were all bowing to her,” he said with a chuckle. “But through all that she kept pushing everyone else forward ahead of her and you don’t find that quality every day.”
“We love you and we are going to miss you,” Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown added.
“I cannot begin to tell you all how much of a pleasure it has been to do this for the last 12 years,” Swida said.
She said she started volunteering for Keep America Programs in her 20s and said Liberty County is a special community with great program support.
“I’ve been lucky,” she said. “I am one of those people that has pretty much loved every job that they’ve had…but the people in this community have just been awesome.
At the ceremony, KLB announced the reigns will be turned over to new Director Karen Bell.
“I am so thrilled that Karen is going to be doing this,” Swida said. “I think you all have great years ahead of you too because she is going to do an absolutely wonderful job.”
“No one can take Sara’s place,” Bell said. “Or fill her shoes and I will not even try because I can’t. But I will do my best to make sure that Keep Liberty Beautiful is an organization that we all want to be a part of. Sara has been in my life since 2006…I even worked with her part-time at one point. It’s like coming home and going full circle.”
Bell then said to Swida, “I thank you for being the person that you are.”