The city of Hawkinsville, which has been an Archway Partnership™ community since 2009, was recently honored at the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Cities United Summit with the 2024 Visionary City Award. The award is presented by GMA and Georgia Trend Magazine and recognizes Hawkinsville’s success at improving healthcare in the community through the Fishers of Men program, facilitated by the University of Georgia Archway Partnership.

“The Visionary City Awards acknowledge the efforts Hawkinsville in addressing community needs through thoughtful and effective initiatives. The success of the “Fishers of Men” program highlights Hawkinsville’s commitment to health equity and community engagement,” said Larry Hanson, CEO and executive director of GMA.

As an Archway Partnership community, an embedded UGA faculty member works with the community to define and address critical challenges. Fishers of Men developed out of an earlier UGA Archway Partnership project—a community needs assessment done by College of Pharmacy professor Henry Young with Pulaski County’s Taylor Regional Hospital. Discussing health issues with residents in the community, Young realized many issues could be improved through increased awareness and the connective hub for the community in the region was church. Working through Archway, Young launched the Fishers of Men program to address preventative care and chronic disease management.

UGA faculty assisted in writing grants for USDA and Georgia Department of Public Health funding. The awarded grants funded installation of telemedicine equipment in area churches—nearly 30 so far—for specialized care. The telehealth hubs ensure high quality internet, widescreen TVs, and medical devices that can be used during appointments with doctors from across the state.

In addition to the telehealth program, UGA faculty and students train faith-based community health advocates to be resources to their peers on preventive care and chronic disease management. The group meets regularly to talk about increasing healthcare awareness to residents in the region, from encouraging colonoscopies to letting neighbors know about the telehealth availability.

“I have been working in Hawkinsville and Pulaski County for almost 10 years now. I remain amazed at the dedication of the people in the community there and the work of the University of Georgia and the Archway Partnership in both the Fishers of Men program and across other areas,” said Young. “Fishers of Men is helping to increase awareness and make real strides for health across the region and I am happy to be a part of it.”

Caleb Snead, a UGA College of Public Health student, has been working with the Fishers of Men program for about two years as an Archway student assistant. Snead makes the regular trip from Athens to Hawkinsville for their monthly Saturday meetings and has been a critical piece of the research and writing required for tracking the program and grant applications. Snead was recently honored with the UGA President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award at the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast for his work in Hawkinsville and other projects.

“It has been an honor to work with the people of Hawkinsville on such a critical community issue. The Fishers of Men initiative has helped guide me on the path to what I want to do for a career, and Dr. Young has done an incredible job equipping me with the skills needed to build sustainable programs like this one,” said Snead. “It’s been a privilege to work with Archway Partnership and be involved in such a great program this early in my journey. Fishers of Men is making a real difference and the Visionary City award is well-deserved!”

Several community members involved in Archway and Fishers of Men attended the annual Cities United conference to receive the award: city commissioners Shelly Berryhill and Bernice Banks, Pulaski’s Archway Professional Sherrie Raleigh, Snead, Michelle Elliott (Archway director), Greg Brown (deacon and Steward’s Association), and Sylandi Brown (Middle Georgia Regional Commission member and local school board member).

“This program is making a difference in Hawkinsville. More men have access to healthcare and more men are getting treated and diagnosed earlier,” said Berryhill. “We are proud of our city and other Archway Partners for always looking for ways to better our community.  The Fishers of Men project is a great example of the power of connectivity.”

Writer: Baker owens,

Contact: Michelle Elliott,