2021 Heart of the Community Awards of Honor Recipients

On February 27,2021, seven of Rome’s “unsung” heroes will be honored at the Heart of the Community Awards of Honor. This year’s event will be presented virtually as a Zoom presentation.

For 35 years Redmond Regional Medical Center has been the presenting sponsor for these awards. The individuals are recognized for their commitment to volunteer service which makes this community a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

For more information contact Wanda J. Whitten, 706-802-3924 or Heart of the Community Facebook.

Our 2021 recipients include:


For more information:  Wanda Whitten, 706-802-3924 or  Heart of the Community Facebook.

EMILY HJORT, 2021 HOC Award Recipient

A native of Douglasville, Georgia, Emily and her husband, Peter, moved to Rome in 1998 from Thomasville, Georgia. She immediately began giving selflessly and tirelessly to Rome and Floyd County.

Her past activities and service includes:
Volunteer, Good Neighbor Ministries
Leadership Georgia Class of 1997
Leadership Georgia Program Chair 2001
Co- Chairman, American Cancer Society Cattle Barron’s Ball
Trustee Darlington School
President, Darlington Upper School Parents Association
Charter Steering Committee Member to Establish Young Life in Rome
President, Rome Area Council for the Arts
Board Member, Heart of the Community
Creator of HeArt Art Project
Creator of RACA’s Firefly Fling Annual Student Art Contest
Member of Leadership Team that Launched the Year Long Ellen Axon Wilson 100th Anniversary Homecoming Celebration, which Culminated in the Gift to the City of Rome of a Statue of Her on the Town Green

Her current activities and service includes:
Young Lives Board Member and Volunteer
Colonial Dames
HOPE Alliance Volunteer
Foster Family Support Team at Seven Hills Fellowship
Vice President, Rome Area Council for the Arts

Emily and, Peter are the proud parents of Peter W. Hjort, III and Margaret Hjort Morin.

Nominated by Andy Davis and Nancy Knight– “Emily is a tireless and selfless volunteer. She has given her time, money and talents to improve our community.”


2021 Award Recipients:

DR. MATTHEW MCCLAIN, 2021 HOC Award Recipient

Dr. McClain has been a Radiologist with Rome Radiology Group since 2006.
A graduate of Georgia State University and the Medical College of Georgia, he completed a Diagnostic Radiology Residency and a Musculoskeletal Radiology Fellowship at the University of Virginia
He has been a driving force in improving Radiology in Rome. According to Dr. Kirk Kizziah, Dr. McClain’s partner and the current Rome Radiology Board President, “Dr. McClain has added countless innovations and business solutions to our practice, working long hours to make us more efficient as a group, and allowing us to constantly elevate our standards of care. He tirelessly cares for patients and frequently gives of his own time to make our lives easier and our practice thrive”.

Dr. McClain’s activities and awards past and present:
– HCA Research Institute Clinical Research Investigator 2020
-Founder of Plasma Therapy non-profit March 2020-developed to coordinate an facilitate collecting, banking and administration of Convalescent Plasma for COVID-19 in conjunction with Blood Assurance
– Board of Directors The Exchange Club Family Resource Center
– President of Rome Radiology 2014-2018
-Chief Resident Medical College 2003-2004
– Georgia State delegate to the American College of Radiology 2002-2005
-Outstanding President of the Year Medical College Of Georgia Diagnostic Radiology 2003-2003
– Pediatric Radiology Student of the Year Medical College of Georgia 2000
Even before the national recognition of the potential impact of COVID-19, Dr. McClain anticipated the challenges and potential impact on our community. He devoted hours upon hours of research in an effort to understand the virus and innovative therapy options. In addition to his full-time profession as a radiologist, he created a non-profit organization in spring of 2020, Plasma Therapy, dedicated to supporting the medical community with treatment options for COVID-19. He participated with Mayo Clinic as a principal Investigator in their Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access study and began enrolling and treating patients mid-April. He led our local convalescent plasma program, spending countless hours researching protocols, writing protocols, submitting applications to the FDA, presenting to internal review boards at the facilities, fielding media interviews, coordinating with blood banks, creating a website to educate the community and provide a point of contact for potential plasma donors.
Another former radiology partner of Dr. McClain’s, Dr. Bill Harbin, describes him as “an individual with the highest standards, a tremendous work ethic and a deep and sincere dedication to patient welfare.” He goes on to state, “The establishment of this (convalescent plasma) program required the designation of a principal medical investigator, a role that Matt enthusiastically shouldered…. without Matt’s vision and hard work, the plasma therapy that many patients received in Rome and Floyd County likely would not have occurred, and some may not have survived COVID-19.”
Additional comments by a Plasma Therapy board member described Dr. McClain as someone who “selflessly battled for the greater good of our community” during a health care crisis in addition to his full-time profession and role as a husband and father. “He sought hope early and relentlessly pursued answers…..He is not someone to sit back and wait for others to act and his passion for his community always overshadowed his concern for himself’.
According to Dr. Kirk Kizziah, “Following tireless efforts in research and developing protocols. our small town was able to successfully treat one the first patients in the country with plasma, much earlier than many of the academic institutions.”

Dr. McClain is married to Heather McClain and they are the parents of 4 children, Jack. William, Lily Anne and Analise.


2021 Award Recipients:


NELLE HOLLAND REAGAN 1936-2020, 2021 HOC Award Recipient

The definition of a matriarch is a woman who dominated as family, group or state.
With a dazzling career in radio from 1960-2019 Nelle Reagan was known as the matriarch of mass media. She was a pioneer in the broadcast industry where she influenced and served as a mentor to other women
Her service in radio continued until her cancer diagnosis in December2019. Unfortunately, we lost Nelle to this disease on February 7, 2020.
Prior to her death and for many years Nelle was very active in this community>
-Georgia Radio Hall of Fame 2013
– 1961 Excellence in Journalism Award from the Associated Press
– Adult Leadership Award Rome Floyd Commission and Children and Youth
-Public Affairs Coordinator for Rome Radio Partners where she used her show Talk
of the Town to be the community voice. She publicized and never missed an opportunity to
promote and event or fundraising activity.
-Advisory Board for Blood Assurance
-Free Clinic of Rome Tomato Sandwich Supper. Her strawberry cake in Silent Auction-$500.0 – Advocate for Floyd Against Drugs
-Served for 20 years as Chair of the Bob Richards Youth Detention Center
-Grand Marshall Rome Christmas Parade 2012
-Keep Rome/Floyd Beautiful
-Board of Visitors for Shorter College
-Rome Symphony Orchestra Auxiliary
-Past President Rome Civitan Club
– West Rome United Methodist Church

Nominated by John Druckenmiller and others. “Nelle Reagan was unparalled in her service to Rome and Floyd County. Our community has been fortunate to be touched by her love, selflessness and the voice of many.”


2021 Award Recipients: