Earl Williamson is a man of many hats.
To some, he's the no-nonsense chairman of Neighborhood Planning Unit-O, which advocates for and represents the interests of Kirkwood, East Lake, Edgewood and the Villages of East Lake.
To others, a dedicated nurse.
But Williamson, a Kirkwood resident, also is passionate about conservation and keeping the greenspaces on the east side of Atlanta green and flourishing for future generationss
It led to his being a co-founder of the East Side Parks Network, which focuses on those greenspaces such as Gilliam Park, which the group cleaned up.
Collectively, there's about 75 acres of greenspace that thread through Kirkwood, East Lake, Edgewood and the DeKalb County community of Parkview.
Through his efforts, Williamson coordinates some 3,000 hours of volunteer service time a year to keep those greenspaces in working order.
For those efforts, Williamson was nominated to be a 2012 Cox Conserves Hero, which honors those volunteers and environmental nonprofits that do their part to protect and preserve the patches of greenspace in our communities.
While not the ultimate winner in Atlanta, he became a finalist, netting him a $2,500 award that he gave to the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization.
Created 2008, the Cox Conserves program is an initiative of Sandy Springs-based Cox Enterprises Inc., the media giant whose holdings include WSB-TV, The Austin American-Statesman, and AutoTrader.com.
The awards recognize community volunteers who create and preserve outdoor spaces in local communities.
The winners and finalists select environmental nonprofits to receive a donation in their honor.
Some 76 environmental non-profits have received a collective $280,000 since the awards' inception, including:
- Trees Atlanta: $5,000
- Park Pride: $2,500
- Georgia Organics: $1,250
- Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy: $1,250
“Our company cares deeply about the environment and what we’re leaving for future generations," James Cox Kennedy, company chairman, said in a statement.
"The time people spend outdoors is such a treasure and should be appreciated. We’re doing our part within Cox’s operations, but I know it takes committed, inspiring volunteers to make a difference in the community."