Things could have been just a tiny bit awkward at Monday’s Rotary Club of Buckhead meeting – but by the end, everyone was holding hands.
Stephanie Blank, honored with the Rev. Robert Ross Johnson Humanitarian Award, was seated next to her husband, David Williams, and across the table from her former husband, Atlanta Falcons and United owner, Arthur Blank.
“I’m sure that some of you in the room may have been a bit surprised to see an earlier chapter in my life at the table with the current chapter,” the honoree said, handling things with her trademark grace. “Arthur has been a part of my life story for 27 years. Together, we did some good things in this world.”
Most importantly, of course, are their children, Josh, who turns 22 soon and 17-year-old Max and Kylie.
“He also gave me the opportunity to learn what good philanthropy and civic leadership can do,” Stephanie Blank said, turning her loving gaze to her husband.
“To David, I thank you for your enduring kindness and gentleness, your generosity of spirit and your patience with me. I know it’s not easy being married to a stubborn redhead!”
Stephanie Blank’s robust philanthropic resume includes serving for years as chairman of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation board, chairing the capital campaign for Imagine It: The Children’s Museum of Atlanta and chairing the 2018 Women’s Leadership Breakfast, aiding the United Way of Greater Atlanta.
“Stephanie is very smart. She is a tireless advocate,” said Donna Hyland, president and CEO of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “She wants for every child what she expects for Josh, Max and Kylie.”
“Engaged, humble, authentic, servant leader, passionate, thoughtful, deeply knowledge, leads by example – these are descriptions that have been attributed to Stephanie by those who know her best,” Rotary luncheon chair Jim Breedlove said.
“She’s been an important friend of the United Way of Greater Atlanta,” said Milton J. Little Jr., the organization’s president and CEO. “I love Stephanie Blank. She is a good friend, a good partner.”
Stephanie Blank, who said that when Buckhead Rotary contacted her she’d assumed they wanted her help finding an honoree, was humbled by the accolades.
“Receiving this honor has made me reflect on how much more I can do and how much more I am capable of,” she said.
She urged everyone to embrace a simple yet sometimes challenging ethos.
“True kindness is a way of being. It is not the same as nice,” she said. “Nice is about superficial acts that don’t really require much sacrifice. True kindness leaves an indelible impression.”
She concluded her remarks by asking everyone in the room to join hands.
“Kindness and love are those rare treasures,” she said. “The more you give of them, the more you have and the more you receive.”