When the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department's Kevin Hall called Marian Guinn and Dr. Susan Pollack to inform them that they had won the 2015 Public Health Hero award, both women made sure that they could share the recognition.
"They care more about the big picture than any sort of individual attention," said Hall, the department spokesman.
Guinn is the CEO of God's Pantry Food Bank, a Feeding America affiliate that annually provides 30 million pounds of groceries to 50 Kentucky counties. God's Pantry Food Bank works to supply healthy food to people at risk of hunger.
"We are meeting a very tangible need, and you can see that every day here," said Guinn, who added she was motivated to get involved in the food bank industry because she loves the state of Kentucky and its people, she said.
"In a country as great as America, all of our citizens should have access to the basic essentials to live a healthy life," said Guinn.
Guinn's least favorite part of the job is making difficult decisions about funding and programs because there are many new ideas that they can imagine and envision. "Being patient as we grow," Guinn said is hard. "I am not a very patient person."
God's Pantry Food Bank works in counties with very few resources and high percentages of poverty. Mobilizing people and resources to meet the need in these areas and provide opportunities for nutritious food is challenging said Guinn.
Despite the difficulties of her job, Guinn said, "The resiliency of the spirit of the citizens of our state is very inspiring to me."
Pollack, the other award recipient, is a pediatrician at Kentucky Children's Hospital, an assistant professor at University of Kentucky Colleges of Medicine and Public Health and a member of the Child Fatality Review team in Fayette County.
"I take care of the whole state," said Pollack, who for the last 20 years has worked with the Department for Public Health as a member of the Child Fatality Review team on the state level. "My job is to support all the local health departments."
Pollack works to give people guidance about keeping their children safe. "Injury is the number one cause of death, and it is in our power to prevent that," she said.
Her greatest challenge is giving families a sense of why injury prevention is important.
"It's not to make things less fun or inconvenient," Pollack said. "Kids needs to go outside and play, but there are ways to do that more safely."
Pollack is also both the director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Injury Prevention Program at the UK Injury Prevention and Research Center and of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids.
Guinn and Pollack were recognized at the April 13 Board of Health meeting at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and will be recognized again at the April 16 Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting.
The women, along with past award winners, make Lexington a better place, said Hall, adding that the award recognizes individuals who show leadership and diligence in promoting public health, contributions in fostering public health programs, and work that has positively impacted the community's health.