HATTIESBURG, MS. - A former Hattiesburg Humanitarian of the year is this week's FOX 23 Kindness In Action recipient.
Russ Hendley of Hattiesburg volunteers with multiple organizations to make Hub-City a better place.
After graduating the University of Southern Mississippi in 1987, Russ Hendley has been working with Hattiesburg's Coca-Cola company. Hendley said that is where the bulk of his volunteer career started.
“We kind of call it the Coca-Cola way, being involved in the community, where you work and live and give back" said Hendley.
He is involved with many organization that pertain to health, education, and children.
“It was in my early years with the YMCA and recreational department that has kind of got me involved, reaching out and helping others" he said.
Hendley has served on the Hattiesburg Public School's Education Foundation, was former Board President for United Way, and is mostly involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“Later on in life I did not realize, where things would go in my life, and I have a son, with special needs" he said.
One of Hendley's son, Ryan, was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy and since Ryan's diagnosis Hendley and his family branched out to volunteer with other health organizations.
“The ARC program, which again is something we are involved in that has helped my son Ryan so much" he said.
Hendley added, "With muscular dystrophy, there are so many different things that affect his life. So even when I help with American Heart Association or Cystic Fibrosis, all of those things affect Ryan because it is muscles that are deteriorating."
"We try to help and be involved in any way that we can and be involved in those programs with kids like Ryan and people in the community.”
Hendley said giving back to a small community, like Hattiesburg, truly makes a difference.
“I think that is the neat thing about Hattiesburg, you can see the fruits of your labor."
"You can see when you have a special fundraiser in the community, you can see the money that goes out and helps the specific need or special project in town and that is pretty special about Hattiesburg.”
Hendley and his family will continue to volunteer with organizations around the Pine Belt.
The following is a list of organizations Hendley is involved with: