2022 Buz Stone Lake Rabun Cares Award - Laura West
The Buz Stone Award was created in 2012 to recognize Buz for 25 years of leadership and stewardship of the Lake Rabun Foundation. The award is presented each year to a member or members “who reflect the spirit of Buz Stone and the goodwill of the Lake Rabun Association in serving the welfare of Rabun County”. The award carries with it a grant from the Lake Rabun Foundation for $2500. to a Rabun charity selected by the recipient.
Past recipients of this award include Buz Stone, Barbara & David Cantrell, Jacqueline & Charles Groover, Dorothy Ann King, Joe Hamilton, Kirk & Kathy Knous, Leckie Stack, Anita & Robert Pittman, Denny Webb, Clay & Al Battle. This is a lineup of LRA legends!
This year I am pleased to award the 2022 Buz Stone Award to Dr. Laura West!
Where to begin?
Tom & Laura came to Atlanta in 1986 and Laura began a career in family medicine-but more important a lifelong commitment to SERVING -often those most in need. She volunteered with Mercy Mobile in Atlanta—often washing the feet of those she served—who does that remind you of?
After years in private practice Laura became a full-time volunteer physician with the Good Samaritan clinic in downtown Atlanta. She did that for 12 years. She also served as a mentor at the Emory Medical Student Clinic.
Now, to Rabun County. Laura comes from Peak, S.C., a small rural community of 80. Both her parents and her grandfather were classic general practitioners. Laura was eager to engage in providing rural medical care. In Rabun County she became what her husband, Tom, called “the country doc she was genetically meant to be”. Laura was loved by her patients here in Rabun County. Unfortunately, the business realities of a for profit, short sighted local hospital caused Laura to leave private practice. I recall that there was an outpouring of letters to the editor of the Clayton Tribune for weeks from Laura’s patients -expressing their love and respect for her- and their thanks for the way she had treated them.
Not one to remain on the sideline, Laura began to provide physician services to the residents of Victory Home- a Christian clinic assisting men trying to combat substance abuse. Laura has been able to build a link between Victory Home and resources in the community like the Food Bank and local hospital to provide nutritional and medical services. She has recently led the effort, through St. James Episcopal church, to secure a tractor so the men at Victory Home can cultivate a large garden. This will contribute to better nutrition for them and, hopefully, provide an opportunity for some commercial farming at Victory Home. Your Lake Rabun Foundation is happy to have contributed to this effort!
As if that is not enough, Laura joined the board of Foxfire at the request of Buz Stone. She would succeed Buz as chair of Foxfire just as the pandemic began. Ultimately Laura stepped into the role of Executive Director of Foxfire. Working closely with LRA friends Anne Pledger and Anita Pittman, they have dealt with budget shortfalls, staffing issues, and fundraising. I can report that they are well on the way to rejuvenating and expanding the Foxfire program.
Laura has been a volunteer with the local health clinic to administer Covid vaccine and has been a spokesperson to groups and individuals on behalf of covid vaccinations. She volunteers regularly with the Rabun Gap Presbyterian Church food distribution program.
Are you familiar with Gardening Outreaches? Laura belongs to two garden clubs with community outreach programs. The Headwater Master Gardeners raise funds for Victory Home with an annual plant sale. I am told she has plans for a pumpkin patch once she gets that tractor going. The Mountain Ivy Garden Club in Clayton maintains downtown Clayton’s Veteran’s Park and the grounds of the Rock House.
Tom reminds me that she is also is tireless “picker upper” of the never-ending deluge of roadside trash.
Truly, Laura West reflects “the goodwill of the lake Rabun Association in serving the welfare of Rabun County”.
Please join me in honoring Doctor Laura West as the recipient of the 2022 Buz Stone Lake Rabun Cares Award!