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Unsung heroes honored

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY -- It is called the "Book of Golden Deeds" and each year the Exchange Club of Albany honors an unsung community hero with it.

This year there was slight change. For the first time in 63 years, the award went to a couple. Albany residents Todd and LaDonna Urick stood at the dinner to be honored Friday night by a standing ovation.

Practically stunned by the Exchange Club's premier honor and the applause, LaDonna Urick tried to find words. "We are, I don't know, thankful that there are people out there who recognize there are people who have lost hope, that God put us on the earth to love one another unconditionally and truly," she said.

She gave the most credit for the award to the people who work with her and her husband in Mission Change, a non-profit community service organization they founded in 2007.

Through that organization, the couple and their volunteers work tirelessly to shelter the homeless and feed the hungry, Exchangite Chuck Knight said in his dedication.

Knight added, "They have provided meals, clothing, food, hygiene products and hope to those who have lost it. They both serve on the homeless coalition in Albany and host monthly missions through Mission Change to allow and encourage others to take part in the service of life."

The list of good or "Golden Deeds" goes on: 70 volunteers join the work monthly to provide 3,000 volunteer hours in 2010 part of the time providing thousands of pounds of food throughout Southwest Georgia. On Christmas Eve alone, they fed 300.

The Uricks have spent time providing disaster relief from hurricanes in the Bahamas and provided 40,000 pounds of food to earthquake-stricken Haiti through their organization.

LaDonna Urick's father could hardly contain his pride at the way his daughter and son-in-law have chosen to give an assist to the world in need.

"I'm so proud of the ways they have found to live their faith," said Donnie Phillips. "They put others ahead of themselves."