HATTIESBURG, Miss., Nov. 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Abb Payne, former CEO of Camellia Home Health & Hospice and current CEO of the Payne Companies and Wilford Capital, and retired Army Colonel Sheila Varnado were awarded the prestigious 2021 Hub Award, presented by the Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation. The Hub Award, which honors the entrepreneurial and service-oriented achievements of former Hattiesburg Mayor Bobby L. Chain, recognizes community leaders who have followed in Chain's footsteps and left the Pinebelt a better place than they found it. In addition to the Hub Award, University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney D. Bennett and William Carey President Tommy King presented Hub Award Leadership Scholarships to Lucas Williams and Trent Gilbertson, respectively.
At the awards ceremony, which took place at the Lake Terrace Convention Center, Payne was introduced by his former Hattiesburg High School debate coach, Mr. Michael Marks, a renowned educator and public speaker. "We all should rededicate ourselves to continuing to lift Hattiesburg up for future generations. To leave it better than we found it. Anything worth doing, after all, is worth doing well," Payne said.
A Hattiesburg native and philanthropic entrepreneur, Payne is founder and CEO of the Payne Companies, a management company for its own and other entrepreneurial endeavors. Payne is also CEO and Founder of Wilford Capital, a company dedicated to creating high-performing and rapidly growing businesses across diverse sectors of the economy. Through PayneCo and Wilford Capital, Payne owns or co-owns and manages home health, hospice, and private duty companies, regional specialty pharmacy operations, and assisted living facilities and senior communities throughout the United States. He also manages and oversees nationwide hotel operations, boutique lifestyle properties, and a large portfolio of Class A office spaces. Additionally, Payne invests in and advises promising tech companies that are already changing lives and the way people do business.
Retired Army Colonel Sheila Varnado was introduced by the Honorable Deborah Gambrell Chambers, who outlined Varnado's list of achievements and community contributions. Upon accepting her award, Varnado extended her deep gratitude to the city of Hattiesburg, describing the Pinebelt as "a welcoming community that has now become a home" for her and her husband. Dr. Varnado retired from the United States Army after completing a 27-year active-duty career. Her culminating position in the Army was as the G1, Third Army (Patton's Army).
Following her military service, Varnado worked with the United Way of Southeast Mississippi to develop and manage a Long-Term Recovery program following Hurricane Katrina. This led to the creation of R3SM (Recover, Rebuild, Restore Southeast Mississippi), a non-profit agency in 2008, where she served for six years as Executive Director. In 2013, she received the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association's Leadership Award for her visionary leadership in the restoring and repurposing of a 100-year-old historic building in downtown Hattiesburg.
Both recipients will now join a long list of revered Hattiesburg changemakers as Hub Award honorees.
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