The Union Recorder
June 02, 2010
Local Kiwanis club honors its WWII veterans
By Vaishali Patel
The Union Recorder
May 14, 1999
Finding Many Ways to Serve
By Andy M. Drury
When the Boys and Girls Club is mentioned in Baldwin County, chances are Joel Burns' name will come up in the conversation.
Burns, a 47-year-old Milledgeville attorney, is one of the founding fathers of the local club that undoubtably turned around many young lives.
When the club opened its doors in 1988, Burns had already worked uietly behind the scenes for half a decade laying the foundations for its future success.
"We opened with $15,000," Burns said. "It was a lot less than we needed, but we had a lot of faith. When we built the gymnasium, we didn't have the funding so we borrowed the money and paid it off with grants."
With the club firmly established in the network of community services in Milledgeville, Burns is serving as the president of the club for the second year. He has been on its board of directors since its inception.
"I believe that things don't get better unless people get involved," Burns said. It stems from his view of the Christian faith: "Following the example of Jesus, not just worshipping Him."
Burns, who grew up in Dekalb County and moved to Milledgeville 22 years ago, has become one of the county's most respected volunteers, working in the First Presbyterian Church and volunteering during the last few years with the Parent Teacher Association at both Southside and Boddie Middle Schools.
Also active in the Milledgeville and Georgia Kiwanis clubs, Burns said the organizations are trying to eliminate iodine deficiency disorder, common in Eastern Europe, Africa, and China. Kiwanis, wiorking with UNICEF, hopes to wipe out the disease by the end of next year.
Lonnie Bales, president of the Milledgeville Kiwanis Club, said Burns is a man you can count on, a man active in his church who sings in the choir.
"He's very friendly, very educated, and a great family man," Bales said. "He does a lot, and everybody who knows him feels that way. I don't think there could be a better person in Milledgeville."
Local attorney Joe Mangum, who once practiced in the same law firm as Burns, said Burns worked with the local clothes bank and started a Kiwanis Club in Sandersville.
"I don't see how the man has time to sleep," Mangum said. "He's constantly involved...He's quiet-spoken, and he's not a cheerleader-type person. But he's self-confident and speaks out when something needs to be done."
"He doesn't just sit around and plan things. He does things."
Burns said there's nothing magical about what he does.
"I would like to encourage everybody to take steps to do what they can to make things better," he said. "If everybody does a little, it's not a big burden on anybody."