DeKalb resident receives Georgia’s highest honor

Forrest Tuff has throughout his life received many honors, including in 2019 the President’s Call to Service Award, the highest volunteer service award presented by the President of the United States.

He is the recipient of such recognitions as the American Heart Association Lifestyle Change Award, the SCORE Distinguished Service Award, and the Corporation for National and the Community Service Martin Luther King Drum Major for Service Award. He said, however, the most recent one—being named Outstanding Georgia Citizen—is truly special.

Calling the award “very humbling,” Tuff, a DeKalb County resident, said, “I grew up in Decatur. Georgia has been my home throughout my life. Having my state honor me in this way—making me an ambassador of the state of Georgia—is something I’m immensely proud of.”

The Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award is the highest honor given on the state level to any citizen and “affords the recipient every courtesy as a Goodwill Ambassador from the state of Georgia in travels to other states and nations beyond the United States,” according to the proclamation issued by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The award was given based on advocacy and goodwill contributions to the state of Georgia.

It was presented by Lenora Peterson of Global International Alliance, who nominated Tuff for the honor.

“My father became a pastor when I was 8. I grew up watching him serve his community and do volunteer missions work. He set an example that I have followed since I was a boy,” Tuff recalled. “Helping others is just part of who I am.”

Founder and CEO of One Vision Productions, Tuff said giving back to the community has been a part of his business model since he launched the company in 2004. An award-winning multimedia production and branding agency, One Vision Production has since 2015 been listed as one of Atlanta’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. Best and Brightest is a business organization that identifies and honors companies that “deliver exceptional human resource practices and an impressive commitment to their employees.”

Major focuses of Tuff’s volunteer work have been youth and small business development, he noted. “I choose volunteer work that aligns with my knowledge and skill set,” Tuff explained. “I gather all the information I can about an issue before I try to address that issue through my volunteer work. I want to know what I’m doing so my contributions are helping people at the highest level possible. If certification and training are needed, I get certification and training.”

The father of three children, Tuff added that he has a special interest in working with young people. “When you help mold young minds, you not only help individual young people, but you also help create a brighter future for all of us,” he said.

Among his other community service activities, Tuff is a SCORE business mentor, a 3DE Schools by Junior Achievement business coach, an FBI Citizens Academy alumnus, and a professional member of Georgia Production Partnership, Toastmasters International, and the National Speakers Association.

In 2015, Tuff started Pay it Forward, a program that provides between $500 and $2,000 to nonprofits, supporting many humanitarian organizations such as the American Heart Association, Care Inc., and youthSpark, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that provides services, education, and advocacy to combat youth trafficking, exploitation, and abuse.

“You just do the work because you want to make your community stronger, you want to help others be the best they can be. It’s an honor to be a public servant to my state. It’s truly gratifying when others recognize those efforts, and I never forget that what I do would not be possible without the help of my family, my team at One Vision Productions and the dedication of so many volunteers, partners, and sponsors.”

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