Since 1995, the Sandy Springs Society has recognized a volunteer in our community who exemplifies the spirit of community service by contributing to the betterment of Sandy Springs and acknowledges the individual’s contributions by donating a check for $1,000 to the 501(c)(3) charity of the recipient’s choice. Individuals who are paid for their service and members of the Society are not eligible, but members’ spouses and families are.

Spirit of Sandy Springs Award 2022

Karen Calhoun

Jan Stewart presents Karen Calhoun with the Spirit of Sandy Springs Award for her work with Horizons Atlanta and other volunteer work. (Photo Credit: Reporter Newspaper, Bob Pepalis)

Each year, the Sandy Springs Society honors someone who has made an extraordinary difference within the community of Sandy Springs.

This year’s winner of the Spirit of Sandy Springs award is Karen Calhoun.  Over the last three decades she has been an active volunteer in all aspects of her life, and we honor her for her extraordinary commitment to improving the lives of children living in Sandy Springs. She is a remarkable, kind, compassionate and caring person who has always gone above and beyond to help those with the greatest need.  She is well deserving of this year’s award.

Karen served as the Chair of Horizons Atlanta at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School’s Advisory Council from 2018-2021.  She led the 13-person council and worked closely with the Site Director providing guidance and support to the program.  Prior to serving as Chair, she was actively involved as an Advisory Council member and a long-time supporter of Horizons.

Horizons Atlanta at Holy Innocents believes that every child, regardless of background and resources, should have the same chance at making a positive impact on his or her community. Horizons provides this opportunity by eliminating critical barriers to success that many children in Sandy Springs face by providing a six-week, tuition-free summer enrichment program for K-8- grade students. On average, Horizon’s Sandy Springs students improve and grow 2-3 months in their reading and math skills because of the summer program. Teachers and administrators report that when Horizon’s students return to school each fall, they are more motivated academically, more eager to learn, and more likely to become school leaders. In addition to reading and math instruction, they incorporate social-emotional learning into their curriculum so that their students are more aware of their emotions and are more capable of regulating them. They have seen that the focus on social-emotional learning, and by giving their students the opportunity to express how they are feeling, has helped curb behavioral issues. For over 22 years, Holy Innocents’ involvement has served the Sandy Springs community, with the majority of their under-served students matriculating from High Point Elementary School, Lake Forest Elementary School, and Ridgeview Middle School. What sets Horizons apart from other programs is their desire to hire Horizons alumni as teaching and support staff for their program. They are proud to boast six former Horizon’s students coming back as lead teachers, assistant teachers, and as support staff this summer!

Under Karen’s leadership as Chair of the Advisory Council, Horizons flourished in terms of recruiting more diverse Advisory Council members and creating stronger connections with the Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School and Church community. On the programmatic side, Horizons grew in size and scope while this year’s recipient was Chair. In the summer of 2021, Horizons added an additional Kindergarten cohort as part of their expansion plan, thus being able to serve more K-8th grade students in Sandy Springs. In seven years, the Horizons program will completely double in size, serving roughly 270 students. The implementation of their expansion plan would not have been possible without Karen’s steady and determined leadership.  She had a significant impact on approximately 135 under-served students living in Sandy Springs while working with Horizons.

Kate Kratovil, Site Director of Horizons with Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School is quoted as saying Karen “is a devoted wife, mother, former nurse, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church member, and high-impact volunteer who we are blessed to serve with.”

In addition to her work with Horizons, Karen is a member of Holy Innocents’ chapter of Community of Hope International, an organization comprised of laypeople who are called and trained to serve as lay ministers in all forms of pastoral care to members of the Holy Innocents’ church community in Sandy Springs.  She also serves on the advisory board of DDD Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities by offering accessible comprehensive dental treatment.

She is a friend to many and has always led the way with kindness and compassion. Her gentle touch is what makes her a sincere and effective leader in the Sandy Springs community.

Not surprisingly she has selected Horizons Atlanta to receive the $1,000 dollar award from the Sandy Springs Society in her honor.

The recipient of the Spirit of Sandy Springs Award is chosen by an independent group of community judges from among the outstanding nominations each year.

Previous Spirit of Sandy Springs Award Recipients

1995 Kathy Klatt

1996 William Huff

1997 Eva Galambos

1998 Charles Balch

1999 James M. Anderson III

2000 Wilson McClure

2001 Willis Walter Cleveland

2002 Ham Henson

2003 Milton Gorman

2004 Linda Bain

2005 Douglas W. Kessler**

2006 Joseph Mayson

2007 D. J. DeLong

2008 Tom Umstead

2009 Guy Berger

2010 Beppie Lever

2011 Fran Farias

2012 Rich Brown

2013 Clarke Otten

2014 No Award Given

2015 Bob Knox

2016 Willis Lanier

2017 Trisha Thompson Fox

2018 Gene Jordan

2019 Althea Scott Mallory

2020 Jennifer Lott, Jennifer Barnes, Erin Oliver, Sonia Simon

2021 Nicole Nigel Gray

Deceased** awarded posthumously

Guidelines for Nominations for the Spirit of Sandy Springs Award

For an individual to be eligible for nomination for the Spirit of Sandy Springs Award, the following criteria must be met:

  • Nominees may not be members of The Sandy Springs Society; however, spouses and other family members are eligible.
  • Nominees may not be paid for their community service.
  • A minimum of two years of active volunteer service must be completed within the Sandy Springs area, but residence in Sandy Springs is not required.

The name of the recipient, selected by members of a Community Advisory Board, is announced at The Sandy Springs Society’s spring general meeting in May.

The Sandy Springs Society welcomes nominations for The Spirit of Sandy Springs Award from its own members and from the community at large. The Spirit Award will be presented at the spring Luncheon of the Sandy Springs Society.

Nomination forms should be mailed to:

The Sandy Springs Society
Attn: Spirit of Sandy Springs Award
P. O. Box 720074
Atlanta, GA  30358

For an application nomination form, click here (pdf)