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2015 VSNC Neighborhood Award Winners

The annual Virginia Statewide Neighborhood Conference Awards Program is the only neighborhood award recognition event in Virginia that recognizes those individual and group volunteers who undertake self-help initiatives and invest their time and energy toward improving the quality of life in their respective neighborhoods for the benefit of others. The following groups and individuals were the recipients of the 2015 awards, as follows:

2015 VSNC Project of the Year

1st Place – City of Roanoke Community Resources/West End Target Area Revitalization – Roanoke VA

The west end of the City of Roanoke’s downtown area was a blighted, low income area with a high crime rate in 2011. The area consisted of mostly older Victoria Style homes that had been neglected for some time. The City of Roanoke, seeing a need for revitalization in this neglected and depressed area, collaborated with Habitat for Humanity, Community Housing Partners, Total Action against Poverty, Lead Safe Roanoke and other community partners to successfully revitalize significant portions of the West End Neighborhoods. Houses were built, repaired and rehabbed & this project also provided affordable new homeownership in these neighborhoods. The city invested over 5.1 million in the West End Target area resulting in 30 new homes being built or rehabbed for first time homebuyer, placing a financial institution in neighborhood to encourage savings and renovating the façade of commercial buildings to improve the commercial core of this targeted area.

2nd Place – City of Hampton Home Repair Blitz – Hampton VA

The Hampton Home Repair Blitz is a collaborative program that brings together over 300 volunteers, numerous community sponsors and homeowners within Safe & Clean targeted neighborhoods to improve the exterior of 20-30 homes all in one day. The Blitz began as an effort to meet a need in the community for minor exterior repairs and to improve the appearance of Hampton’s housing stock in concentrated areas. The City of Hampton, Habitat for Humanity and the Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority established this partnership out of an interest in addressing basic home repair needs in a coordinated way to assist residents who did not have the financial or physical means readily available to address property maintenance needs. The partnership has leveraged over $50,000 in community sponsorships, grants and in-kind donations in addition to $15,000 in city grant funds. The volunteer time for the five events was valued at over $175,000.

3rd Place – Growing Tinbridge Hill- Lynchburg VA

Tinbridge Hill is a small neighborhood with a rich history. While it has struggled since the 50’s it continues to possess many of the ingredients needed to achieve the modern day spirit it was so recognized and admired for in that era. The Friends of Tinbridge Hill is a group of stakeholders and agencies committed to achieving measurable goals in this neighborhood. They assisted in the development of a neighborhood plan in partnership with the City Of Lynchburg and the Tinbridge Hill Neighborhood Council (THNC). The Plan identifies general goals and action steps within each goal that will form the agenda for the Friends and THNC over the years. The Friends have worked with THNC to meet the vision of the plan and establish measurable benchmarks by which they can celebrate progress.

2015 VSNC Advocate of the Year

1st Place- Constance Covington- Danville VA

For over 35 years Constance Covington has devoted her time, talent and energy to the youth and residents of her community. She conducts over 150 educational programs each year and recruits volunteers to give of their time to teach life lessons to those less fortunate. She assists juveniles ordered by the court to complete community service projects. She adds to their experience in a way in which they earn not just the hours but confidence in themselves, pride in their work and the value of hard labor. Constance Covington, volunteers full-time at Cardinal Village ( a housing complex under the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, where she provides the opportunity for youth to complete the requirements of the court and to see the significance of giving back to their community. The power of Mrs. Covington’s Community Service Projects always is aimed at moving the neighborhoods forward from their past. She works with the community’s most at-risk youth and prepares them to be the community’s future leaders and outstanding citizens.

2nd Place – Jane Baber White- Lynchburg VA

Jane Baber White’s involvement in a vast number of community projects has forever impacted the City of Lynchburg. She has a fierce vision for community restoration. Her quiet personas, contagious energy and successful efforts to ensure the recognition of the African American legacy and her dedication to the Lynchburg community are insurmountable. She continuously uplifts other people or agencies by writing letters of sponsorship, writing agencies for donations on behalf of a local community effort or lobbing for continued improvement within local government, schools or the neighborhood. Her stellar involvement and efforts continually and currently has impacted the following projects in this community; The Old Cemetery located in Tinbridge Hill; The Anne Spencer Garden and Museum; the African American Legacy Museum and the Tinbridge Hill Neighborhood Plan.

3rd Place – Steve Edwards – Hampton Neighborhood Commission Chair – Hampton VA

Steve Edwards works hard to improve the community around him and continues to encourage positivity while doing so. Through his volunteer involvement as the Faith Based Representative and Chair of the Hampton Neighborhood Commission Steve has partnered with HELP (Hampton Ecumenical Lodging & Provision) to create the Street Church program which helps families in the community that are in crisis and homeless while receiving a home cooked meal on the 4th Sunday of each month. Pastor Steve has devoted his time to helping faith-based organizations within the community to partner with other organizations on outreach, recreational events and charity drives through the Neighborhood Commission Registered Neighborhood Organization Program. The registration program was one of the ventures he encouraged as Commission Chair. It serves as a tool in identifying and developing relationships with key organizations and networks that make up the Hampton Community. Steve embraces the ABCD ( Asset Based Community Development) model for sustainable community driven development. Through his ministries and work as the Chair of the Commission Steve tries to build on the assets that are already in the community and bring them together.

2015 VSNC Youth Group Effort of the Year

1st Place- Youth Board of Lindenwood /Cottage Heights/ Barraud Park Civic League – Norfolk VA

The Youth Board of Lindenwood/Cottage Heights/Barraud Park Civic League is comprised of youth who have become involved in the monthly civic league meetings from the aforementioned neighborhoods. They serve as Youth Officers of the Civic League and have organized and implemented such projects as: Monthly cleanups, senior checkups, Youth Leadership events, Back to School Supply giveaways and Community outreach. Their 1st annual “Tied to a Brighter Future” youth event in August 2014 was planned, organized and designed specifically by the Youth Board. This event was geared to preparing young men for a brighter future through workshop sessions and one on one support. The event improved the community by involving youth from the community and teaching them basic etiquette skills and good grooming techniques needed for job interviews, school, church and other areas of social interaction. It also gave them a perspective on the importance of money management and seeking a successful career. These accomplishments help strengthen the neighborhoods though youth volunteerism, youth leadership, youth employment and education preparation as well as youth development. Thus the Youth Board is becoming more engaged in activities that will strengthen their community as a whole and foster good family values.

2nd Place- Facets 3 on 3 Basketball Tournaments- Fairfax County VA

Each year the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Controls hosts a week-long conference for Virginia Teenagers called Youth Alcohol and Drug Prevention Project (YADAPP). At the end of the week each team of youth creates a STAN Plan or Strategy to Act Now Plan. This is a youth engineered, youth created plan to educate and mobilize their peers about substance abuse prevention. After they leave the conference they head home to their communities to implement their plans. Three high school youth from FACETS Ragan Oaks community in Fairfax County implemented their plan in April 2015. Their vision was to host a local 3 on 3 basketball tournament that could also be used as a platform to speak with their peers about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The basketball tournament was youth driven. The three lead youth sought the support from the other FACETS communities to assist with set up, manning information booth& games, serving food and helping to clean up. By giving their peers responsibilities and tasks, the lead youth encouraged others to take on leadership roles. In addition to engaging their peers from their neighborhood, they expanded the reach to other community centers, schoolmates and friends & families. The tournament also strengthened the bonds between FACETS and two partnering organizations for the event, Fairfax County Police and the Mott Center.

3rd Place – Cardinal Village “Pretty in Pink” Girls’ Club-Danville VA

The Pretty in Pink Program began as collaboration between the 22nd Court Service Unit at Danville’s Diversion Program and the Cardinal Village Tenants Association. It has evolved and shaped into a valuable program for young girls. The young ladies have elected officers and host regular monthly meetings as well as field trips and community projects. They have become more active within their neighborhood and city at large. They started to have regular tea parties as part of their monthly meetings where all girls are asked to dress in pink, spend time together and come with an open mind to learn something new. They invite an older group of women to join in the event from time to time. This is a wonderful mentoring opportunity for these young ladies. The program grew from a regular membership of 12 to the current membership of 45 young ladies from the ages of 5-16 years. There is a sense of ownership of being a part of something bigger within their own community where poverty and gangs make it difficult to see things sometimes in a positive light. Additionally the program has also created a connection within the Greater Danville Area through service projects that take them out of their neighborhood to other neighborhoods within their City.

2015 VSNC Youth Individual Effort of the Year

1st Place – Bryauna Kralik- Hampton VA

Bryauna is a high school senior who is employed as a Junior Youth Planner for the City of Hampton. In her time as a junior Youth Planner, Bryauna has displayed strong leadership skills necessary to lead a group of 22 high-school aged Hampton Youth Commissioners. Due to her collaborative nature, she is relied upon to carry out tasks or help others in completion of goals for the Hampton Youth Commission. Bryauna has excellent written and oral presentation skills and showcases these skills bi-monthly by presenting formal presentations to the City of Hampton Planning Commission and memos written to the Planning Commission, including the City Manager. This past year Bryauna collaborated with other staff members to develop bus tour plans to ride the (Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) System for the Youth Commissioners and their peers. The project contributed to the quality of life of the Hampton Community by exposing young people to riding a city bus. It helped to break the negative perception they had about riding a public bus which then opened their minds to an affordable and accessible alternate mode of transportation. The HRT bus tours that Bryauna took a lead in planning and effectively executing, strengthens the Hampton Community for success because it helped educate more young people about their transportation options.

2nd Place – Frank Smith 111 – Roanoke VA

Over 25 years ago, Old Southwest, Inc. in Roanoke dedicated a memorial in Argonne Circle to commemorate the sacrifices made by World War 1 soldiers from Roanoke. In the years since not much else had happened to this space. While serving in the Argonne Circle rededication in 2012 Frank saw the need for the circle to be refreshed. He contacted Old Southwest, Inc. and spoke at a neighborhood meeting seeking support for his plan to enhance the memorial located on the circle. Frank’s planning development and leadership on this project involved approval from Roanoke Parks & Recreation and the city’s architectural review board. Once Frank received approval he began raising capital to fund the project. With sponsorships from Old Southwest Inc and Home Depot Frank was able to enhance the memorial by adding a flagpole, information center, benches and planting a poppy flower symbolic of World War 1. Frank then went on to coordinate the rededication of Argonne Circle for Veterans’ Day 2014 to honor those who lost their lives in WW1 helping to keep alive the sacrifices they made so we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we have today.