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Publix Associates Honored for Community Involvement

6 employees receive award named after company founder "Mr. George"
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
publix awards
Publix recognized six associates with the Mr. George Community Service Award for outstanding commitment to their communities during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting.

Publix Super Markets has recognized six associates at the company’s recent annual stockholders’ meeting with the Mr. George Community Service Award for outstanding commitment to their communities. 

Publix founder George Jenkins, affectionately known as Mr. George, believed that Publix and its associates should make a difference in their communities, and the Mr. George Community Service Award annually recognizes associates who have continued his legacy of service. 

Each year, one associate from each retail division and one support associate are recognized with the award. These associates are actively involved in their communities and represent the generous spirit of Publix’s founder. Since 1995, 153 associates have received this honor.  

Recipients receive a personalized award, a feature in an internal company publication and $5,000 donated to the charity or charities of their choosing.

“Mr. George once stated that we’re not only in the grocery business, we’re in the people business,” said Publix CEO Kevin Murphy, who was named to the company’s board of the directors during the stockholders' meeting. “And that means taking care of our customers, communities and each other. Our 2024 recipients take these words to heart and are fulfilling our mission to be involved as responsible citizens in the communities we serve.”   

2024 Recipients

Atlanta Division:

Store Manager Hermith Coleman, #1112, Mableton, Ga. 

For Coleman, giving back to her community directly reflects who she is and where she comes from. Her humble beginnings started at an orphanage in Haiti. 

“I feel compelled to give back. The only reason I stand where I am today is because someone gave back to me,” Coleman said.

When asked about a time that stood out in her years of giving back, Coleman pointed to an experience in 2023 through her volunteer work with CASA as a court-appointed special advocate. CASA volunteers are committed to making a difference for children who might otherwise slip through the cracks in an overburdened foster care system. 

“One of the things I do with CASA is teach foster kids how to prepare for college,” said Coleman. “I was mentoring a girl who wanted to drop out of high school; she constantly gave her family a hard time. Today, that girl is a college graduate with a steady job.” 

In the future, Coleman plans on creating a podcast focused on mental health. 

Charlotte Division: 

Store Manager David Kuehl, #1415, Knoxville, Tenn. 

“My volunteering experience started when I was promoted to deli manager in West Melbourne, Fla.,” said Kuehl. “My assistant store manager at the time, Marsha Singh, helped me get involved in the United Way tours, and that experience changed my whole mindset."

Now, Kuehl makes it his mission to do what Singh did for him and share the importance of giving back to the community with his team. Kuehl has started to build relationships with the Knoxville United Way and has contributed to building his store team while inspiring them to be involved in community events. 

 “I was immediately humbled when I learned I was a Mr. George Community Service Award recipient,” said Kuehl. “It was justification for me and my team that we are doing our part as responsible citizens in our communities and that even in the midst of a storm, our hard work is not going unnoticed.”

Jacksonville Division: 

Store Manager Danita Washington, #1140, Jacksonville Beach, Fla. 

Washington’s passion for serving her community started at age 6 at First Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. 

“Growing up in the church, we would serve our community in every way possible,” said Washington. “We volunteered at soup kitchens, made care packages, wrote letters to those in need and helped send cards to military families. Later in life, after joining Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, service was taken to another level by going to schools to read books, mentoring youth, collecting school supplies, helping the homeless population and so much more. I fell in love with giving back to my community, and that passion has stayed with me ever since.” 

Washington’s latest venture has been volunteering at the YMCA. She also teaches lyrical dance and is involved in the youth community at her local church. She volunteers at Greenscape, where she plants trees and helps clean parks, and at Ronald McDonald House, where she prepares food care packages for the families there. She organizes Publix Serves events for her district and constantly looks for new ways to serve her community.

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Lakeland Division: 

Store Manager Matt Humphreys, #1443, Lehigh Acres, Fla. 

Humphreys serves several organizations in his community, such as Habitat for Humanity, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Boys & Girls Club, and United Way. 

“I have been involved with United Way for about 12 years and on the board of directors for five years, and it is so rewarding,” said Humphreys. “One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had with United Way was in 2022, when Hurricane Ian struck and devastated our area. It was right in the middle of our campaign, and we had to do a 180 to get out a different message and help people in need. … It was an eye-opening experience and truly amazing to see what can be accomplished when people come together to help.” 

As chairman of the board, Humphreys has already started on the 2024-25 United Way campaign and hopes to raise even more money this year than the $11.2 million raised last year. 

When asked what he thinks is the most important thing you can give, Humphreys replied: “You can't put a dollar amount on time, and time is something everybody has. With the time I have in this life, I hope to inspire others and pass on Mr. George’s legacy to help the communities we serve.” 

Miami Division: 

Grocery Replenishment Specialist Ody Infante, #222, Miami

Infante was inspired to distribute toys to children in hospitals after her own daughter was hospitalized in December 1995 due to seizures. A year later, after her daughter was healthy, Infante contacted Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami to ask about distributing toys to the children who would be spending Christmas in the hospital. She was told that for her to be able to do this, she would need a minimum of 246 toys — one for every bed in the hospital. 

With the hope of making this idea work, Infante spoke to her store manager and got permission to talk to associates to try to reach the goal of 246 toys. 

“That first year, we had just enough toys, and I will never forget the feeling of walking through the hospital delivering them,” she said. 

Infante is passionate about dedicating her time to support her community and plans to continue growing her efforts yearly. 

“Last Christmas, we had a total of 4,000 toys, and we were able to put together a lobby event with games and prizes for the kids,” Infante said. “The extra toys are saved for children going through hard times throughout the year. I am excited to see what we can do this year, and I know that the compassion and time we are dedicating to this cause is changing people’s lives.” 


Senior Manager of Supply Chain Replenishment Brad Shiver, Lakeland, Fla.

Shiver’s generosity benefits several organizations within the community, and he loves to involve his family. 

“I have always had a passion for volunteering, but I started volunteering even more when my two children got old enough to get involved in activities,” said Shiver. “My favorite type of volunteering is when I am behind the scenes of an organization so that the youth of our community can get the quality programs they deserve.”  

As an advocate for youth, he reinforces the philosophy of Publix founder George Jenkins of giving back to the communities in which Publix operates. When asked what he will be doing with the time off he receives with this award, Shiver said that he will take that time and pour it back into the community.  

“I'm going to work in the concessions to raise money for the high school band and go on a scouting trip with Boy Scouts of America,” said Shiver. “Time is such a gift, and you’ll never get it back. That’s why I plan on using this extra time to make a difference and support my community.”  

Employee-owned and -operated Publix has 255,000-plus associates and more than 1,300 supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. The Lakeland, Fla.-based company is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century.

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