GEORGETOWN COUNTY — Ray Funnye, Georgetown County’s public services director, never saw himself coming back to Georgetown after he left to go to college.
But when his brother passed in 1992, Funnye found his way back to the county for a few days, and haphazardly ran into the county administrator at the time.
Two days later, he was offered a job as a plans examiner with the county, and said he cannot imagine what his life would be had fate not taken control.
Through his work with the county, as well as with his nonprofit, The Village Group, Funnye was awarded the American Medical Association’s Outstanding Government Service award in early March.
“Mr. Funnye understands that economic and educational opportunities are crucial to every person’s health and to achieving equity,” said Russ Kridel, the AMA board chairman.
Funnye said he was nominated for the award by AMA president-elect Gerald Harmon, a local family physician and long-time friend.
AMA awarded five people around the country with the Outstanding Government Service award this year, and looks for candidates who contributed greatly to the public health through elected and career government service, are outstanding leaders in their field, have high personal integrity, promoted the art and science of medicine in or through government service and developed a special project that contributed to the public health of a given community or special population.
Funnye and his wife, Queen, founded The Village Group in 2005 to improve the Plantersville and Georgetown communities and build a brighter future for its children.
What started as a group of families playing baseball together transformed into a program that hosts a summer academy, rents bikes to community members and offers aviation education to enrich and inspire children in the county.
Funnye said just being nominated for the award was a humbling experience, and he hopes to use the award to heighten awareness of the power of community, faith, hope and love.
“These awards are given to people who try to make a difference … and I along with my wife have been trying to do this for 15 years,” Funnye said. “And so now we are being recognized for our efforts, and hopefully we will be able to leverage the award to do some other great things in the community.”