2019 Neighborhood Awards

Perfect Partnership Award - Dr. Robert Wagoner

One Community, One Voice Lynchburg is a partnership between a grass roots group of pastors, local businesses, churches, private non-profit agencies and health care providers, to work with local law enforcement in an innovative strategy to address neighborhood problems such as poverty, education, joblessness, etc. As a partner with One Community, One Voice Lynchburg, Dr. Robert Wagoner has contributed his time and resources as an optometrist for the past several years to provide much needed help to inner city families. Dr. Wagoner has given free eye exams at the Jubilee Center for at least 50 needy children, and followed up the exams by providing free eye glasses to those children who needed them.

Last year, Dr. Wagoner conducted a free eye clinic before the beginning of the school year for Lynchburg City students. He also provides free eye exams for senior citizens who can’t afford them. Dr. Wagoner often discounts glasses and bifocals for these seniors, so they can purchase the eyewear they need. Not only is Dr. Wagoner helping the less fortunate in our community to see more clearly, but we can clearly see that he’s making a huge impact in our city through his dedicated partnership with One Community, One Voice Lynchburg.

2019 Outstanding Neighborhood Award - Daniels Hill Neighborhood

Daniel’s Hill is one of Lynchburg’s oldest neighborhoods. It resides along the James River and Blackwater Creek. Among its residents are two groups that have not only brought many of the neighbors together, but have infused the neighborhood with a welcoming spirit! The two groups, The Daniel’s Hill Society and the Daniel’s Hill Reunion Committee have worked throughout the past year on many neighborhood projects.

The projects they undertake follow their mission, to honor their past, appreciate their present and improve their future. Projects included are the Clean Your Block Party; hosted a huge home-coming celebration; the neighborhood assisted the City’s effort in the neighborhood center’s renewal project; and residents hosted a variety of other small gatherings, like potlucks, community yard sales and Adopt-A-Street cleanups.
All of these efforts have had a simple, yet resounding impact—bringing neighbors together in shared public spaces. Daniel’s Hill neighbors care about one another, visit with one another and support one another when a need arises. Truly, Daniel’s Hill is a wonderful example of what all our neighborhoods should be like… a caring and welcoming neighborhood that honors their past, appreciates their present and works to improve their future. (Mildred Smith accepted the award on behalf of Daniels Hill).

2019 Outstanding College Student Award - Selinna Echavarria

Going to college while holding a job and in your free time, volunteer a lot, would make most of tired, but not so with this young lady. Selinna Echavarria is currently doing all this and more! Ms. Echavarria attends Liberty University and through a Federal Work Study program she has interned with Parks & Recreation, mostly at the Daniel’s Hill Community Center. In that position, she has consistently gone above and beyond what’s asked of her. Selinna has lots of energy and enthusiasm and is always looking for new things to introduce to participants at the Center and can lead an impromptu activity at a moment’s notice.

Ms. Echavarria has also volunteered numerous hours at the Miller Home for Girls and through that work, she landed a paid position within the organization. Starting as a Teen Mentor and transitioning to a Lead Child Care Worker, Ms. Echavarria focuses on building relationships with at-risk teenaged girls to correct behavior, and reward improvements through the program.

When not studying for her Master’s in Education or working with Parks & Recreation or the Miller Home—Ms. Echavarria interns as a counselor with Campbell County Schools. Overall, Ms. Echavarria loves people, works hard, and always tries to lift the spirits of those around her. The person, who nominated her, said “I believe these characteristics represent all that is good in our community, and I am pleased to nominate her for the honor of the Outstanding College Student of the Year Award.” And, we’re so glad you did! 

2019 Outstanding College Student Award - Alexa Tarallo, Aisiah Duke, Victoria Ross

These next three award recipients are Bonner Leaders at the University of Lynchburg. Bonner Leaders are students who are committed to community service, desire to develop leadership skills, and are interested in issues of social justice. Students in the Bonner Program commit to four years of regular service with Lynchburg nonprofits that address community needs such as food and housing insecurity, poverty, college access, environmental sustainability, and others.  During their four years of service, Bonner Leaders provide 300 hours of community service with local non-profits.

Alexa Tarallo, Aisiah Duke and Victoria Ross have committed their service to an initiative that is aligned with the City’s work to fight poverty, specifically, the issue of hunger among children. They work with a newly formed local non-profit, Food for Thought, whose mission is “to enable hungry children to learn by providing parent and school identified food insecure students with nutritious food to sustain them through the weekend.”

Ms. Tarallo, Ms. Duke and Ms. Ross are working with Food for Thought to develop programs, writing procedures, assisting with inventory, importing data and doing grant research. Last fall they assisted with packing 150 backpacks each week with food items and by the end of the semester had prepared 450 backpacks for needy students. They prepared backpacks for middle and high school students in addition to students at several alternative schools and students with special needs, just to name a few. Each of these young ladies exemplifies what a Bonner Leader is; and we have no doubt that after graduation, they will take their civic mindedness and skills into their respective communities, and there make a positive impact as well.

Neighbor to Neighbor Award - E. C. Glass High School Football Team & Heritage High School Football Team

Last April 16, an EF3 tornado ripped a path through Campbell County, the city of Lynchburg and Amherst County, leaving a path of destruction unlike anything we’ve seen in Lynchburg and the Central Virginia area in our lifetime. Businesses, homes and public spaces were affected. The Boonsboro community of Lynchburg was especially hard hit. Hundred plus year old trees felled—some on homes, others across roadways as well as falling in front of homes which prevented safe access for the residents.

The day after tornado, both the E. C. Glass and Heritage High School Football Teams stepped up to help remove debris from that area of the city. The News & Advance reported that Heritage running back, Kyron Thomas, tweeted a photo of fellow players and students who helped with the cleanup and stated, “Helping the community will strengthen the community.” With the rival teams working together on the cleanup, E. C. Glass High School Coach, Jeff Woody, was quoted, “When somebody’s in this situation, it’s everybody’s obligation and duty to help out….in this situation, there are no teams. There are no colors, it’s just everybody helping out.”

The Heritage Football team, also this year, gave up their spring break in order to help build a local Habitat home. They spent their break sawing lumber and nailing together the walls of the home that is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.  One of the linebackers was quoted as saying, “When you are building something for someone else, or doing a job and volunteering it opens your eyes and makes you appreciate what you have.”

With neighbors like these young football players, the residents of Lynchburg have so much to be thankful for. And, we wish to thank you all for not only your commitment and effort you put into your education, your football team, but for your willingness to step up and help neighbors in need! 

2019 Lifetime Neighborhood Service Award - Desiree “Micky” Ferguson

As stated in the nomination, “Few people have left such an indelible mark on neighborhood life as one who regularly reports to work at 1005 Seventeenth Street, in the Diamond Hill Neighborhood. For over thirty years, Desiree Ferguson, fondly known as “Micky,” has balanced her role—as civil servant and neighborhood champion—with a strong sense of purpose.”

“Ms. Ferguson is a Specialist with the Department of Parks and Recreation, where she has impacted generations of residents through her work at the Diamond Hill Center. Throughout her years, Ms. Ferguson has sustained her passion for the work of community building. She has kept an attentive eye toward the neighborhood and has created a welcoming, safe space at the center. Ms. Ferguson helps develop character in even the youngest center participants, who learn to recite the “Diamond Hill Pledge,” which acknowledges that they are as “diamonds in the rough,” full of so much beauty and potential. In addition to leading formative youth programs, Ms. Ferguson has continued to breathe new life into the center with signature offerings such as a health fair, soul food luncheon, good neighbor day, and dance classes.” In addition to her work at the center, Ms. Ferguson goes above and beyond helping those in her community with clothing drives, annual dinners and activities for seniors.