On Thursday, December 15, 2022, Passion Works founder Patty Mitchell was awarded the prestigious Sam Jones Model Citizenship Award at the Appalachian Heritage Success Stories Luncheon. The event is co-hosted annually at the Ohio Statehouse by Heritage Ohio and Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area.

According to Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area (OHCHA) website, “A major focus of OHCHA’s work has been to seek out and recognize ‘inspiring practices’ throughout our 32-county region. This has resulted in more than 80 Heritage Awards being given to a variety of organizations and individuals who make Hill Country a special place to live and visit. They do this by valuing our history, culture and natural environment.”

Mitchell accepting the award. Photo credit: Passion Works


Mitchell was recognized for her work building Passion Works, a collaborative community studio that supports artists with and without developmental differences to make art together. The award recognizes that their brightly colored Passion Works flowers, the “official flower of Athens,” have become integral to the Athens community and the studio’s contribution to the Athens economy.

The Sam Jones Model Citizenship Award that Mitchell was honored with has a special connection to Athens County, as it was created in 2017 by OHCHA to honor Glouster resident, Sam Jones. Jones is the owner of Sam’s Gym in Glouster, a former world heavyweight kickboxing champion, an Ohio Senior Citizen Hall of Famer, and the creator of the Boxing for Books annual fundraiser, that has helped to raise more than $750,000 for books for the Trimble school district since the 1970s.