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April 18, 2023 — Publix Super Markets recognized Lakeland Division Store Manager Billy Ray Drake, #361, Sarasota, Florida, with a 2023 Mr. George Community Service Award at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting.

Drake is a conduit for others to become involved in giving back to the community. He is dedicated to local charities and spends time mentoring youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters. When he’s not volunteering with various organizations, he spearheads all community involvement for his store.

Drake is passionate about helping others. He strives to live Mr. George’s legacy daily and make each associate on his team aware of the Publix culture of being involved as a responsible citizen in their community. 

“Keeping Mr. George’s legacy alive and being able to make an impact in my community inspires me each day,” he shared. “Publix allows me to help influence others in our stores to volunteer their resources. When we all pitch in, great things happen.”

Drake has been helping others through Habitat for Humanity for over nine years. He’s assisted in building approximately 25 homes in Sarasota County, and has become known as a landscape and fencing specialist.

This year, Drake is focused on inspiring his managers and associates to come out and see the benefits of giving back. “I want to show our younger generation the impact Publix has on our communities. We’re more than just a grocery store. We are community partners and we do so much good that they should be aware of, and hopefully be a part of,” he said.

About the honoree
Drake started his Publix career in October 1994 as a grocery clerk. He worked many positions in the grocery department before being promoted in 2004 to grocery manager at #29, Sarasota, Florida. In 2008, he was promoted to assistant store manager at #29 and was promoted to store manager in 2013 at #333, Sarasota, Florida. He currently serves as the store manager at #361 in Sarasota, Florida. 

About the award
Each year, one associate from each retail division and one support associate are recognized with the Mr. George Community Service Award. These associates are actively involved in their communities, display personal integrity and represent the generous spirit of Publix founder George W. Jenkins. Recipients receive a personalized award, a feature in an internal company publication, dinner with Publix executives, three paid days off and $5,000 donated to the charity or charities of their choosing.

Drake joins Atlanta Division Store Manager Sefik Gluhic, Charlotte Division Store Manager Tim Bismarck, Jacksonville Division Store Manager Nicole Miller, Miami Division Pharmacy Manager Deborah Lolo and Manager of Retail Security Solutions Rick Abbatiello as this year’s Mr. George Community Service Award recipients.