McKinney was born in Indiana, but moved just two months later to Stone Mountain, GA where she resided until the start of college freshman year.
“My grandfather had Alzheimer’s disease,” said McKinney. “I moved to Atlanta for my first two years of college with my grandmother to help her with my grandfather.”
During her junior year, her grandfather entered a nursing home, where McKinney was less than impressed with the service and attentiveness.
After that bad experience McKinney said, “In my very interesting 19-year-old ways I decided I would be a social worker with older adults,” instead of being an education major.
McKinney began interning during August 2000 in her new field at Athens Community Council on Aging. Fourteen years later, McKinney is married with two children and has remained loyal to the ACCA serving as its director of development and volunteer services.
ACCA is a nonprofit organization that provides services and promotes a lifetime of wellness through educational and recreational opportunities.
The organization itself has developed new services such as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Foster Grandparent Program and Mobile Adult Day Care. McKinney’s position at the ACCA touches everything from securing and maintaining funds, to handling volunteer services, to supervising the Meals on Wheels program and its finances.
It would be difficult to include all the specifics McKinney does on a day-to-day basis; however, her day normally starts with answering phone calls and responding to emails. She believes that the most important aspects of her job and also of her life are relationships and communication.
“I prioritize my day in terms of what will strengthen relationship and what will enhance communication,” said McKinney.
Even while being interviewed she asked to pause the meeting and answer the phone call of a staff member. McKinney explained that she could have called them back later, but she feels it is important to make every staff member feel significant.
Cassie Kusmisz, a student at UGA who worked with McKinney on a communications project, raved about her.
“Mrs. McKinney is so deeply passionate about her work that it is truly an inspiration to others. Her generosity and good service to the community is contagious,” said Kusmisz.
McKinney says out of her six positions, the role she holds now is her favorite. But she admits, “As far as direct service goes… my most favorite program I was involved in was the Meals on Wheels program.”
She felt so strongly about the program that she helped create and launch the nonprofit Meals on Wheel Association of Georgia. Its purpose is to provide an association for all Meals on Wheels providers in the state and to have a source of networking and resources. Since September 2010, she has been a chair and president of the organization.
Heather Sweaney, director of the Center for Active Living, has seen firsthand McKinney’s devotion to the Meals on Wheels Program, and to the ACCA as a whole.
“Over the years, I have personally witnessed her make sure that Meals on Wheels clients are fed by lunch and the volunteers felt valued,” said Sweaney, “She has advocated for hundreds of clients to make sure that they are healthy, safe and happy. I have seen her assist one gentleman go from being a victim of financial exploitation to being empowered.”
She described the countless hours McKinney has put into fundraising events, not just for the programs she is involved in but for the agency.
McKinney has received several awards working for the ACCA, including the Director’s Award for Excellence in October 2007 and the Distinguished Staff Star Award in October 2010.
“Sarah is full of energy and when given a task, jumps right on it,” said Jennie Deese, CEO of the ACCA. “She has a very contagious personality and enjoys people. That is what makes working with her so fun. Sarah has a huge heart and passion for others.”