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    2018 Mayor and Vice Mayor Awards of Excellence

    Tyeast Blanding is someone who saw a need and did something about it. She didn’t need to join an organization or fill out an application to get involved. She just did something! Tyeast owns and operates a hair salon on Fifth Street and that’s where you will find her when she’s not organizing donations, financial assistance or educational trips. Several years ago, she noticed several homeless people near her shop and was concerned that they didn’t have a warm place to sleep. Tyeast put out a call on social media to collect coats, scarfs, socks and blankets at her salon. The response was overwhelming so she’s kept it going. 
     
    In 2012, Tyeast and members of her family attended President Obama’s inauguration in Washington D.C. As they watched that historical ceremony, she realized that not all Lynchburg children had that same opportunity.  When she returned home, she set out to change that.  Her plan was to provide inner city kids the opportunity to go on educational and fun trips at no cost to the children or parents. All the children had to do was write an essay titled “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.” That first year, they raised $2,500, providing a train trip to Washington for 20 children. The next year, 40 children went for an overnight trip to D.C. and this year, they’ll be visiting the NASA Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia. Tyeast summed her activities up in the best way, “I do a lot but if you love what you are doing there is no work involved, it’s normal.”
     
    After graduating from VMI in 2000, with degrees in business and economics, Chris Boswell began his professional career in Lynchburg with a pharmaceutical company. As a young boy and throughout his college years he volunteered at the local soup kitchen, went on mission trips and volunteered with local Boys and Girls Clubs. So once he had settled in, Chris began searching for opportunities to give back to the community.

    He began volunteering with the local Boys and Girls Club and now years later, still serves on the board of directors. In 2014, Chris, with the help of Lanny Duncan started a chapter of Mustaches 4 Kids in the Lynchburg area. The first year, the “growers” raised over $34,000 with the Boys and Girls Club as the beneficiary of the funds. In four years, Mustaches 4 Kids Lynchburg has raised more than $300,000 for Lynchburg charities with the help of dedicated “growers” and sponsors.


    Doug and his wife Polly, of 53 years, moved to Lynchburg five years ago. Though he had recently retired as a software engineer, after arriving here he started his new “career”—volunteering. Doug had shown and bred dogs for over 30 years when he lived in Maryland and North Carolina, so it was a natural fit for him to join the Dog Owners Training Club here in Lynchburg. Currently he serves on the Board and teaches dog training classes. However, this was just the beginning of his new career. 
     
    In the Fall of 2015 Doug was diagnosed with prostate cancer and his perspective on life and living as he says, “was forever altered.” After months of treatment at Centra’s Alan B. Pearson Regional Cancer Center, he was overwhelmed by the level of care and support that he received from the staff and volunteers while a patient. He decided to give back a bit of that personal help to other patients and families who are on the stressful path of cancer treatment and recovery. As a volunteer with Centra at the Cancer Center, Doug has served as a front lobby ambassador, librarian, and steward of the extensive flower and vegetable garden installed two years ago. Doug was so impressed with the Hill City Master Gardeners who installed the garden, that last year he signed up for the Master Gardener program and is now a Master Gardener himself, giving back not only at the Cancer Center but at other locations across the city. 
    In his words, Doug sums up his new career as a volunteer this way, “I have been fortunate and blessed to have found such wonderful outlets for my abilities and energies. I am grateful to have become a resident in such a caring, resourceful, and giving community… Life is good!”
     

    After 27 years of active duty in the Navy and nine years of living in northern Virginia, Jeff and his wife Sally Schneider discovered and relocated to Lynchburg in 2000. Their passion for history and preservation led them to purchase their home on historic Diamond Hill which marked the beginning of their journey of professional and volunteer service to the Lynchburg community.
     
    As the Executive Director of the Lynchburg Historical Foundation for 15 years, Sally initiated many new programs, projects and events to bring awareness and appreciation for the need to actively preserve the City’s architectural heritage. She helped save a historic home from demolition, worked to provide a shelter for the Packet Boat Marshall, and most recently led the charge to have Dr. Robert Walter Johnson’s house and tennis court designated as one of Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Sites. Perhaps Sally’s more visible accomplishments was spearheading the fund-raising and recasting in bronze of Lynchburg’s historic Water Bearer statue which now resides as the central point of focus on the Bluffwalk.  
     
    Next to Sally throughout her service was her number one volunteer, Jeff.  In 2011, he was recognized as the Lynchburg Historic Foundation’s “Volunteer of the Decade.”  His passion for preservation was exemplified by his service as a three-term member of the Historic Preservation Commission and the Community Development Advisory Committee. Jeff also serves on the Board of Directors and is treasurer of the Diamond Hill Historic Society and Dante Alighieri Society of Virginia. Together the couple has been meal preparers and servers for Kids Haven for more than ten years. Their most recent community service undertaking was the first Parry Restaurant Group sponsored “Grateful Gathering,” a Thanksgiving dinner prepared and served for those in need in our community.