Spirit in Action: Pine Belt residents honored for commitment to caring


Four Pine Belt residents were honored for their commitments to caring for the community as winners of the Spirit in Action Awards, presented at the annual Spirit of Women Spring Event on April 4.

 This year’s event featured a presentation, Flying Through Life, by Tammie Jo Shults, who is most famous for becoming one of the first female F/A-18 pilots and for safely landing a Boeing 737 after an engine exploded at high altitude last year.

Before Shults’ talk, four special attendees were surprised by being called to the stage as winners of the 2019 Spirit in Action awards, recognizing their work in making the Pine Belt a healthier, safer and more inspirational place to live. This year’s winners were:

Tina Hoda

Hoda is involved in many facets of the community and has touched many lives through her volunteer work. She is a retired educator, having taught for 35 years. She is involved at Main Street United Methodist Church where she helped start a Prayer Shawl Ministry and visits the sick and elderly on a regular, and sometimes daily, basis. She serves on the Hattiesburg Public Schools Foundation Board and the ARC Board. She has also volunteered at Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp for the past 50 years.

Dr. Tommy King

During his 12-year tenure as president of William Carey University, King has provided unsurpassed leadership for the continued growth and expansion of the university. Several additions have been established under King’s leadership; however, the College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, and a doctoral program in physical therapy are at the top of the list. King is the first graduate of William Carey to be named a president. He has a strong record of leadership in civic affairs where he has served on local, state, and international levels.

Rob Tatum

Tatum had a great early start in life – he was born at Forrest General Hospital and graduated from Hattiesburg High School, where he was first baseman on the team that won the 1997 State Championship. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of The University of Mississippi and attended the AB Freeman School of Business at Tulane University. Since graduating, Tatum returned to Hattiesburg and has been in action ever since. Hub City Lofts, The Claiborne, and most recently, The District at Midtown are just a few of the developments that Tatum has helped create. In addition to his work developing the Hattiesburg community, he also serves as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church, serves on the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association Board and the Trustmark National Bank Advisory Board. He also serves on the steering committee for the Endowment Campaign for the Edwards Street Fellowship Center.

Mayor Toby Barker

Barker hit the ground running after college and hasn’t slowed down yet. At 25, he was the youngest legislator elected in Mississippi and the first elected in his generation. As mayor of Hattiesburg, Barker is in action every day. In addition to the regular duties of running the city, he might be seen picking up litter around town, supporting all the local schools, both public and private, at their events, or leading the praise band at Main Street United Methodist Church. Barker’s vision is for Hattiesburg to become a premier city in the Gulf South. In economic growth, education, health care, culture, entrepreneurship, tourism and especially customer service, Hattiesburg aims to be the best.