Hometown Heroes

Allen & Allen was founded on service and action. For over 100 years, our attorneys and staff have been inspired by those in the community who make Virginia such a great place to live and work. Now in its fifth year, the Allen & Allen Hometown Heroes award recognizes Virginians who are responsible generating positive change in the community or in the lives of others.

This April and May, the Firm received hundreds of nominations for impressive candidates from cross the Commonwealth. After careful consideration, we've selected fifty 2014 Allen & Allen Hometown Heroes.

We invite you to read the inspiring stories of this year’s winners and join us in celebrating them at a series of summer concerts in Richmond, Fredericksburg and Charlottesville.

The winners of the 2014 HOMETOWN HEROES award include:

 Damien Banks5. Damien Banks
Charlottesville, VA
Amber Berry6. Amber Berry
Richmond, VA
Svondai Brown8. Svondai Brown
Richmond, VA
Tommy Carter9. Tommy Carter
Maidens, VA
William Carter10. William Carter
Richmond, VA
Ted Chewning11. Ted Chewning
Richmond, VA
Hometown Hero12. Sharon Clark
Culpeper, VA
Eureka Collins13. Eureka Collins
Virginia Beach, VA
Deborah Craven14. Deborah Craven
Kenbridge, VA
Ronnie & Linda Dawson16. Ronnie & Linda Dawson
Lunenburg, VA
Cecelia Garner17. Cecelia Garner
New Kent, VA
Camden Giroux19. Camden Giroux
Mechanicsville, VA
Karen Grimord20. Karen Grimord
Stafford, VA
Hometown Hero22. Julie Hicks
Amelia, VA
Daniel Holmes23. Daniel Holmes
Midlothian, VA
Rachel Jones24. Rachel Jones
Zion Crossroads, VA
Hometown Hero26. David & Kathleen Kern
Midlothian, VA
Carl Lawson27. Carl Lawson
Fredericksburg, VA
Gloria Lloyd28. Gloria Lloyd
Fredericksburg, VA
Shantell Malachi30. Shantell Malachi
Henrico, VA
Hometown Hero31. Bobby Martin
North Chesterfield, VA
Simi Massey32. Dr. Simi Massey
North Chesterfield, VA
Walter Pennino34. Walter Pennino
Fredericksburg, VA
Belinda Piercy 35. Belinda Piercy
Hopewell, VA
Hometown Hero36. Chana Ramsey
Hopewell, VA
Jessica Spears39. Jessica Spears
Charlottesville, VA
Hometown Hero40. J.D. Stamper
Tappahannock, VA
Bruce Thacker42. Bruce Thacker
Charlottesville, VA
Doris & Mack Thomas43. Doris & Mack Thomas
Rutherglen, VA
John Tippett44. John Tippett
Fredericksburg, VA
Hometown Hero45. Robert Toepfert
Palmyra, VA
Victor & Carmen Torres46. Victor & Carmen Torres
Richmond, VA
Dempsey Whitt47. Dempsey Whitt
Richmond, VA
Todd Williams48. Todd Williams
Mechanicsville, VA
Vivian Williamson49. Dr. Vivian Williamson
Petersburg, VA
Lisa Worcester50. Lisa Worcester
Stafford, VA

Robert B Hughes IIIIn Memoriam: Robert B Hughes III
Mechanicsville, VA

 

 

2014 Hometown Heroes Stories

Garrett Adams1. Garrett Adams, Chester

Garrett has served as a volunteer firefighter with the Enon Volunteer Fire Department 6 for 16 years. In fact, Garrett is the first one his fellow firefighters call when they have a question, and he’ll drop everything to go and help in person. This hard-working firefighter has taught his young son that there is nothing more rewarding than helping those in need, inspiring him to want to be a firefighter when he grows up. Says his wife, who nominated him, “We have spent many nights alone so that our hero can continue to do what he loves and we would not change it for anything in the world."

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2. Beth Addington, Locust GroveBeth Addington

Beth has dedicated her career to EMS and pre-hospital education and is a life member of both Fredericksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad and Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue (CVFR) for which she currently serves as President. She is also a past recipient of the Governor’s EMS Provider of the Year Award. Each year, Beth spearheads the CVFR’s 9-1-1 for Kids program, which educates local second graders on the proper use of the 9-1-1 system. One of the “go-to” people for Spotsylvania County’s volunteer efforts, this tireless volunteer is an American Heart Association instructor, teaches CPR to all department members on a volunteer basis, and spends almost every Saturday helping with local EMT classes.

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3. Eric Albert, Colonial HeightsEric Albert

After 11 years with Colonial Heights Fire, EMS and Emergency Management, Eric assumed the supervision of the Emergency Communications Center in 2011. Despite limited funding, it has been this fire lieutenant’s mission to ensure that his personnel have the best training and equipment available as well as the recognition they deserve. Eric was instrumental in obtaining the City’s first rescue boat, a donation from the U.S. Army. He also designed and built a Mayday firefighter training tower to assist with firefighter safety and survival training.

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4. Rex Atkinson, Glen AllenHometown Hero

During the school year, Rex serves as a popular teacher and coach at Binford Middle School. According to his nominator, “He gets results that other teachers want to get!” After the school year ends, this teacher becomes a sports camp director, bringing in major sports heroes, like Shaquille O’Neal, to meet the campers. He also helps children with the expense of going to camp. His concern for children in need continued when Rex also held a shoe drive for local kids.

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5. Damien Banks, CharlottesvilleDamien Banks

Damien is a positive role model in the Charlottesville community. Through Banks Collage, a not for profit organization he started to entertain the community with various events he has thought of from fashion shows to sporting events, Damien has definitely kept this city entertained. He is most known for his very competitive men's basketball league, The Banks Collage Basketball Association or BCBA, which is held at Tonsler Park on Sundays throughout the summer. He not only coordinates these games but with the help of his Banks Collage team, he provides stats and video footage. This league really brings the community together. Hundreds of people come to watch these games throughout the summer. The players love the “shine” and the families and fans love to cheer them on. The BCBA has also given many small businesses/vendors in the community a chance to come out and share their product.

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6. Amber Berry, RichmondAmber Berry

When Amber Berry was diagnosed with advanced stage Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2012, she took the opportunity to shed light on the disease, chemotherapy, and radiation. “She wanted to share her story so that future cancer patients would have a larger wealth of information to lean on. Her positivity is inspiring,” writes one of her nominators. In addition to blogging about her journey, Amber is a dedicated advocate and fundraiser for Massey Cancer Center. “I consider Amber a hero because she has continued to see the light around every dark corner she has turned,” writes another nominator. 

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7. Marsha Bishop, RichmondMarsha Bishop

Since the late ‘70s, Marsha has been a foster parent to 50-plus children. Despite the fact that she has difficulty walking and has chronic pain, her door remains open to children who need her. Some of her foster kids have only stayed with her and her husband for short periods, while others have lived under their roof for years. At one point, Marsha was caring for her own child along with six foster children. The woman these kids call “mother” and “grandma” not only gives them shelter and food but also helps them navigate life and the challenges encountered along the way.

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8. Svondai Brown, RichmondSvondai Brown

“There aren't many people left in this world that are as selfless as Svondai,” writes one of her many nominators. Svondai is known in the Richmond community for her annual Easter Egg Hunt, an event that has been open to the public for the past 5 years and garners over 200 people each year. Svondai uses her own funds for food, beverages, and activities each year despite facing personal health challenges. This year, Svondai could not host her community event due to a brain injury and seizures. Her community has rallied around her as evidenced by the outpouring of Hometown Hero nominations received. 

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9. Tommy Carter, MaidensTommy Carter

Although Tommy retired from his full-time job several years ago, he has continued to serve as a volunteer firefighter with Goochland County Fire-Rescue, where he’s worked since he was a teenager. During this 50-year tenure, he has held leadership positions at both the company and department level, including the position of Chief from 1993 to 2001. Still one of the most active volunteer members of the department, Tommy is a mentor to all members of the department, both career and volunteer, thanks to his half-century of knowledge and experience. 

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10. William Carter, RichmondWilliam Carter

Coach Carter, known for running basketball camps for kids, has made an impact in the community by helping young student athletes in all sports connect with college coaches through his organization, Assist Student Athletes. In addition, he helps youth secure grants and scholarships through showcases and countless phone calls, and holds a variety of charity events to benefit kids. Since starting the program, he has placed over 1350 students all over the country in schools with full scholarships. 

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11. Ted Chewning, RichmondTed Chewning

According to Ted’s many nominators, “He’s the nicest person I’ve ever met.” Ted has developed a reputation over the years as the kind of neighbor who is always willing to lend a helping hand - no matter how large or small the task. He mows people’s lawns, helps his neighbors with anything they need around the house, and he is always ready to serve his church. Ted is known in his community as someone who does for others with little expected in return. He is known as a true hero.   

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12. Sharon Clark, CulpeperHometown Hero

Sharon has owned Pepperberries, a gift boutique, for almost a decade, but several years ago, she decided to also launch an organization to help uninsured or under-insured women (and men) in Culpeper, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock Counties afford diagnostic mammograms. Since its beginning, Pamper Me Pink has grown from a small 25-person fundraiser to 400-500 supporters coming together at The State Theatre each year. In fact, Culpeper Regional Hospital is now partnering with the organization to help determine eligibility as well as provide mammography. To date, 100-plus women and men have received mammograms as a result of this organization. The philanthropist also sits on the boards of Culpeper Regional Hospital and Virginia Community Bank, helps judge E-Squared at Culpeper County High School, and serves as the 2014 President of the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce

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13. Eureka Collins, Virginia BeachEureka Collins

Knowing how hard it is to be a military spouse, this Navy wife has supported her peers in a variety of ways over the years. She’s raised $1,800 for the March of Dimes to help military parents of premature babies (she gave birth to a 1-pound, 2.5-ounce baby boy in 2004); collected clothes, toys, and small appliances for families; co-authored the book Enjoying a Happier Life Now!, giving away 30 books to her peers; and published a newsletter called Ms. Faith Writer, which used real-life stories to encourage families. She has also volunteered at Norfolk Christian School and Tabernacle Baptist Academy, supporting children whose military parents weren’t able to be there for them.

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14. Deborah Craven, KenbridgeDeborah Craven

Working for Lunenburg Health Service, a nonprofit health care organization, Deborah, who is a nurse, provides medical care on a volunteer basis to those who cannot afford a doctor. She even treats patients who don’t have transportation in their own homes. But going above and beyond her job duties isn’t unusual for Deborah. Once, when a patient didn’t have anything to eat, she brought food to his house three times a day. At her church, she organizes several different charity fundraisers each year and helps fill stockings for underprivileged children at Christmas time. “She has never said ‘no’ to anyone,” explains her daughter, who nominated her. “If someone needs something in town — even if she can’t help them personally — within a day, she will find someone who can.” 

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15. Darian Davis, Colonial HeightsDarian Davis

Four years ago, Darian launched a mobile hair styling business to allow those who were too sick or without transportation to have their hair styled. All of his services are deeply discounted or free. Darian believes that when people look better they feel better about themselves, and the look of gratitude on his clients’ faces is more valuable than money. Over the years he has shared his gift with a Make-A-Wish recipient, clients with terminal illnesses and elderly clients who can’t make it to a salon. The family of one woman with stage 4 cancer, who had recently passed away, thanked Darian for allowing the woman to leave this earth feeling beautiful again. 

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16.  Ronnie and Linda Dawson, LunenburgRonnie & Linda Dawson

Ronnie has severe heart problems and is on disability, and Linda has multiple ailments, including diabetes, and uses a scooter chair to get around. The couple also has no insurance. Despite their own personal difficulties, the Dawsons make it their mission to keep their favorite park in Victoria, VA, litter-free. Very dedicated to this green space, the Dawson’s go by several times a week to make sure the park stays clean for everyone in the community.

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17. Cecelia Garner, New KentCecelia Garner

As a teacher, Cecelia firmly believed in making time for her students, despite what was going on in her own personal life. Years later, she is still no more than a phone call away from students who need her guidance. She remains active in her community serving on multiple committees and supporting those in need, including children, the homeless, and victims of violent crimes. Although she has multiple degrees, she reminds people that it “wasn’t a ‘me’ achievement; it was a ‘we’ achievement.” 

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18. Addison Garrett, CharlottesvilleAddison Garrett

Addison began collecting stuffed animals for the UVA Children’s Hospital when she was 3 years old. It was her parents’ way of teaching “the gift of giving.” By the time she was 5, Addison was calling family and friends asking for donations and, for the past three years, she has collected nearly 1000 animals. Addison then came up with the idea to also give stuffed animals to the local police, fire, and rescue to calm children during emergency situations. Using her middle name “Trace,” she named her project “Traces of Love.” With businesses jumping on board, the number of toys Addison collects continues to grow. Says her nominator, “What started as a way of teaching Addison the gift of giving has turned into her teaching all of us what giving is all about.” 

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19. Camden Giroux, MechanicsvilleCamden Giroux

All of his life, 11-year-old Camden has given the money he’s received as gifts to the homeless. But two years ago, he started collecting coats and other items to give to those in need as well. Calling his program “Camden’s Cause,” he teamed up with the Daily Planet as their youth ambassador to show other kids that they can make a difference. In their joint efforts, Camden has visited the Daily Planet with his mom and in return, representatives from the Daily Planet have visited his school (Pole Green School) to teach students about the homeless population and how they can help. Pole Green Elementary School hosted a Camden’s Cause Week in his honor, collecting 800 pairs of socks. 

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20. Karen Grimord, StaffordKaren Grimord

In 2004, while visiting her daughter in Germany, Karen saw that many wounded service members had no TVs or DVD players in their hospital rooms. When she came home, she began to collect TVs, DVDs and DVD players to send back to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC). That grassroots campaign turned into the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project (LHCP), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation to provide quality-of-life items, including clothing, bedding, food, toiletries, and electronics, to soldiers not only at LRMC but also in field hospitals in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in Veteran Administration (VA) facilities throughout the United States. All of Karen’s hard work is completely volunteer and all of the boxes shipped are prepared in her garage.

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21. Neveah Harrell, CharlottesvilleNeveah Harrell

At the age of 5, Neveah began a life of giving. At a young age she convinced her mom that they should gather all of her outgrown shoes and donate them to local nonprofits. The youngster then inspired her grandmother to suggest to the Masonic Lodge that they donate dresses to children needing clothes. The Lodge now makes dresses out of pillowcases and extra fabric for children across the country. On a very hot day a year later, while visiting her aunt in Richmond, Neveah purchased a frozen drink for a homeless man. That one drink led to an afternoon spent passing out drinks to many others. Neveah was awarded the Martin Luther King Leadership award at Woodbrook Elementary for doing what comes naturally to her: helping others.

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22. Julie Hicks, AmeliaHometown Hero

Julie cares about the elderly in Amelia and Powhatan, so much so that about five years ago, she remodeled the back of her house to create an adult daycare for them. Every day she picks up women from their homes and brings them to her daycare, where she feeds them and engages them with games and other activities throughout the day. And this giving woman, who her nominator says is “full of life,” does it all out of the goodness of her heart. 

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23. Daniel Holmes, MidlothianDaniel Holmes

Daniel wears many hats. He is a special education teacher and is also involved in the Special Olympics program in Richmond, VA. He is a counselor and a preacher. He is a former long jump athlete currently coaching track and field athletes to help them earn college scholarships. Says the former student who nominated him, “He is my mentor and when I got in trouble he was always there to tell me ‘everything will be alright’.”

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24. Rachel Jones, Zion CrossroadsRachel Jones

Although she’s busy taking care of her two children and husband, Rachel still finds time to give back to the community. She’s program director of Zion United Methodist Church and was one of the teachers who helped the Zion Christian Children’s Center get off the ground five years ago. Rachel also coordinates the 4-H Horse Program and is involved with Boy and Girl Scouts. This caring mom worked as a 911 Dispatcher with Louisa Co. Sherriff's office and is a former Police Officer with the City of Charlottesville. She organizes many local programs including a School Safety Program and is responsible for bringing a women’s self-defense class to the community. Some days she even has a sidekick, her Certified Therapy dog, Molly, who visits local schools, hospitals, and nursing homes with her. 

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25. Marlow Jones, Sr., PetersburgMarlow Jones Sr.

Coaching sports for more than two decades, Marlow, who has served on the Petersburg Fire Department for 14 of those years, has been a strong father figure to countless boys in Petersburg. In fact, he started Team Petersburg Boxing and one of the boys he coaches won the Virginia State Silver Gloves title in 2013. In a single year, Marlow has also eliminated much of the panhandling in the city. His current project is using his own funds to open a free community center for children and adults this summer. 

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26. David and Kathleen Kern, MidlothianHometown Hero

David and Kathleen are gifted dancers who use their skills to impact others. Kathleen attended a high school in New York that hosted a dance marathon to raise money for nonprofits. While participating in this event, she met and fell in love with her husband, David. They both went on to become teachers at Deep Run High School, and for the past seven years, they’ve coordinated the Deep Run High School Marathon Dance, raising more than $1 million for Richmond-area nonprofits. Arranging fundraisers, finding sponsors, coordinating volunteers, feeding the 600 kids who participate in the dance marathon, and more, the couple is committed to providing their students with an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves.

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27. Carl Lawson, FredericksburgCarl Lawson

Carl has touched many lives in Fredericksburg, but few know his name. That’s because he does his good works quietly, expecting no kudos. He and his wife Paula have established Feed Fred, a charity that provides food for the working poor and homeless of Fredericksburg. Buying and cooking the food themselves, the couple often ventures into the woods, under bridges – everywhere - to find those who need help. Carl also supports the Fairy God Mother Project, which helps families of children with cancer. Among the many other ways Carl helps his community are donations to Doctors Without Borders and transporting veterans to the VA clinic. Says his friend who nominated him, “If there were more people like them [Carl and Paula] around, this world would be a much better place to live.”

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28. Gloria Lloyd, FredericksburgGloria Lloyd

At 73, Gloria, who is a bereavement community educator, shows no signs of retiring because of her commitment to her bereavement-writing group. She runs the group with such sincere love for everyone in the group that members can't help but return the affection. Gloria also coordinates a vegetarian group at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg, inspiring others to eat more nutritiously and improve their health.

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29. Shelby Long, RichmondShelby Long

Over 28 years ago, Shelby Long formed the Church Hill Crime Watch. Her neighborhood was plagued with crime at the time, so she organized residents, worked daily with the police, and formed a working relationship between officers and citizens. Shelby's home became known as the focal point for residents wishing to pass information on to the police as well as a place for any neighborhood child who was hurt or upset. Though fighting cancer, Shelby continues to be the neighborhood mom to all on Church Hill and fights to reduce crime in her neighborhood. “Shelby Long is an angel come to earth,” writes one of her nominators. 

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30. Shantell Malachi, HenricoShantell Malachi

In addition to her full-time job and earning her PhD in Human Resource Management, Shantell is the founder and Executive Director of Central Virginia Dress for Success (DFS), a boutique offering disadvantaged women career-appropriate clothing. She also runs Career Couture, a resume writing/career consultation service. As if that wasn’t enough, Shantell has started an offshoot of DFS called Success without Barriers to help re-acclimate recently released female inmates into society. As a result of her many achievements, she was named “Top 40 Under 40” by Style Weekly in 2012. Her nominator says, “Her grace, drive, intelligence, and dedication to helping others is unparalleled.”

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31. Bobby Martin, North ChesterfieldHometown Hero

Bobby proves that a true hero is someone who goes above and beyond for someone else. From fixing his neighbors’ homes without asking for anything in return to looking for ways to lend a hand on a daily basis, Bobby’s everyday acts of kindness make his community a better place. “He’s the kind of hero who is always doing good deeds and never gets credit for it,” writes one of his nominators. 

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32. Dr. Simi Massey, North ChesterfieldSimi Massey

A decade ago, Simi founded Mission of Hope International (MHI), a nonprofit organization helping needy families in the Greater Richmond. An initiative of MHI, the Compassion Center & Diaper Bank, has provided free clothing, baby items, food, diapers, small household, and more to 800 families this year alone. MHI’s outreach project Fresh Start For Single Mother & Their Children helps single mothers gain self-sufficiency by teaching them about everything from budgeting to self-defense. Simi and her staff, who all serve on a volunteer basis, work tirelessly to meet the needs of everyone who walks through MHI’s doors. Her service has even been recognized by the White House, which named her a President’s Volunteer Service Award winner in 2014.

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33. Gloria Mitchell, PetersburgHometown Hero

Mowing grass, providing transportation, and making food for people who need it, Gloria is always putting others before herself. In fact, the neighbor who nominated Gloria calls her “a guardian angel.” Although people always offer her money for her help, her nominators report that she won’t take a cent. 

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34. Walter Pennino, FredericksburgWalter Pennino

The heart and soul of the Chancellor Lions Club, Walter has generated thousands of dollars through a variety of fundraisers over the years, including the annual pumpkin sale, the spring plant sale, the White House Christmas ornament sale, and the Easter egg hunt for blind children. In recent years, Walter, who is battling Parkinson’s disease, has also started donating his time, gas, and vehicles to drive people to doctors’ appointments and for medical treatments. 

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35. Belinda Piercy, HopewellBelinda Piercy

Belinda, who is principal of Woodlawn Learning Center, loves gardening and instills in her staff and students the importance of agriculture and growing your own food. Every March, she reminds staff to incorporate plants into their lesson plans and gives all of the students seeds to plant and watch grow. The school’s Community Garden, which this educator was instrumental in designing, provides fruits and vegetables to not only the school’s students, but to anyone who needs fresh food. In its fifth year, the Community Garden has received numerous awards from the USDA and the RC&D National Council. 

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36. Chana Ramsey, HopewellHometown Hero

After serving as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, Chana became involved with The James House, the only accredited nonprofit helping survivors of abuse in the Tri-Cities area. In 2001, there were only three staff members and the organization was in dire financial straits. Chana, who is now CEO, transformed The James House into an award-winning organization with 10 staff and 40 active volunteers helping more 1,200 people a year. With determination that comes from her own difficult childhood—and a lively sense of humor—this inspirational woman shapes many people’s perspectives on life for the better. 

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37. Roger Reynolds, AshlandRoger Reynolds

Roger is a co-founder and a driving force behind C J’s Thumbs Up Foundation, an organization providing support to families of children with chronic and life-threatening diseases. Since 2010, CJSTUF has provided more than $70,000 in financial assistance to 150 individual families served by Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Roger and his wife, along with a spirited team of volunteers, help caregivers with the responsibilities and unexpected needs they face as they navigate challenging hospital processes and medical care schedules. The organization strives to serve an even greater number of families, both locally and beyond Richmond. Learn more about Roger on page 16 in Hanover Lifestyle.

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38. Ashton Ryan, CharlottesvilleAshton Ryan

13-year-old Ashton was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease as an infant. This disease can do profound damage to the heart; however, from all signs, this young man’s heart is one of his biggest strengths. Volunteering in his community since he was 5 years old, Ashton has fed and taken warm coats and blankets to the homeless, raised money for local community centers, and dressed as Santa and delivered gifts he helped pay for himself. In addition, he has served Thanksgiving Dinner at homeless shelters, and holds an annual coat drive every November called "Ashton's Birthday Wish." Last September Ashton was diagnosed with a leg disorder and spent months in a wheelchair and leg braces. He is learning to walk again, but throughout it all, Ashton continues to plan how he’s going to help the next group of kids in need.

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39. Jessica Spears, CharlottesvilleJessica Spears

As a kindergarten teacher at Burnley-Moran Elementary School, Jessica spends endless hours finding the best way to reach each and every child. Not only does she cover SOLs, but she also teaches her students to be good citizens, kind to everyone, and good caretakers of their bodies through exercise and healthy eating. Jessica and two parents created the Walkathon for Wellness to raise money for after-school clubs and other extracurricular activities. She also led a running club and a club to help kids cultivate healthy habits. Outside of school, she is working to become a Master Naturalist, which involves 40 hours of volunteer work each year, and she is involved in a number of other community activities.

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40. J.D. Stamper, TappahannockHometown Hero

While at a highway work zone with several workers in Tappahannock, an out-of-control vehicle ran off the road, this Virginia State Police trooper’s quick thinking saved two highway workers from injury, but unfortunately, he was struck by the vehicle as he pulled a third highway worker out of its direct path. That worker suffered major injuries and the trooper suffered a career-ending injury.  J.D. went above and beyond the call of duty as a policeman to risk his life protecting others.

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41. Michelle Swisher, SpotsylvaniaMichelle Swisher

As a social worker for the Spotsylvania County Schools, Michelle works with homeless students to help secure the housing, clothes, food, and emotional support they need. She was instrumental in launching Camp Out Rock Out, an event to raise awareness about homelessness. Michelle also helped develop The Treasure House, a trailer stocked with toiletries, cleaning supplies and clothes. Even with her demanding work schedule, this mom rarely misses one of her kids’ (she has six) sports or school events. “She is someone I can always count on,” says her neighbor who nominated her. “She is always happy to help with carpooling, dog sitting, or just to lend an ear.” 

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42. Bruce Thacker, CharlottesvilleBruce Thacker

For 34 years, Bruce has been volunteering at Golden Living at Cedars, a nursing home in his community. Giving of his time and talents, Bruce grows vegetables for the cooking club, makes pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving from his own pumpkins, helps make apple butter for the residents, makes homemade soup for staff who are sick, takes residents fishing, and much more. Says his nominator, “He's never met a stranger.” Although he recently survived a major heart attack, Bruce continues to give back to his community in every way possible. 

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43. Doris and Mack Thomas, RutherglenDoris & Mack Thomas

Although Mack had a stroke a few years ago, he hasn’t let that slow down his ongoing philanthropy. At 78 and 74, Mack and his wife, Doris, still volunteer to help seniors in their community by delivering meals, and taking others out to dinner and on shopping trips. Mack even mows the lawns of those needing a little extra assistance. The couple also helps young people who have gotten into trouble and they are known for providing transportation to work for those without vehicles. No matter how small or large the task, Mack and Doris are always looking for ways to help a fellow citizen. 

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44. John Tippett, FredericksburgHometown Hero

The executive director of Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR), John has spent the past 19 years championing the river’s health through advocacy, restoration, and education programs - annually more than 7,000 students are reached. Just a few of his notable accomplishments include protecting 4,232 acres of land along the Rappahannock and forging a relationship with land developers through low impact development. His role in the removal of the Embry Dam has set precedents nationwide, making the Rappahannock the longest free-flowing river in Virginia and restoring populations of migratory fish. John is stepping down to seek treatment for complications from Lyme disease, but he leaves a huge legacy.

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45. Robert Toepfert, PalmyraHometown Hero

When this retired New York City fireman and postal worker moved to Palmyra, he didn’t want to stop giving back to his community. Robert joined his local fire and rescue squad and also pitched in to remodel the homes of people in need, including plumbing, painting, and electrical projects. He also helps out neighbors by mowing lawns and shoveling snow. But his altruism didn’t stop there. Robert works for area food banks, is active with the Knights of Columbus, volunteers with mentally challenged and autistic children, and volunteers at Friday's After Five. According to his nominator, “There’s not a day that goes by that he’s not helping someone in need.”

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46. Victor and Carmen Torres, RichmondVictor & Carmen Torres

In 1971 when Victor and Carmen came to Richmond, they began reaching out to youth struggling with addiction. In fact, their own kids gave up their beds so that others could have a place to sleep. Today the couple operates a 118-acre farm for young men and Mercy House for young women as part of New Life for Youth, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive assistance and transitional housing to people suffering from life-controlling problems. Today their organization, which is more than 500 volunteers-strong, has helped more than 13,000 young people. Victor and Carmen have spent a lifetime bringing hope to the local community and, now in their 70s, the couple continues their outreach.

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47. Dempsey Whitt, RichmondDempsey Whitt

Dempsey has served his country for over two decades, including 400 days in Afghanistan where he earned the Bronze Star Medal for acts of merit. Prior to Afghanistan, Dempsey served as Chief Flight Paramedic at PHI Air Medical. He has also served as a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army. In addition to his service to his country, Dempsey impacts his community locally as the Director of Operations for Richmond Ambulance Authority. He continues to give back to those in need and is an advocate for his employees. He is an active member in his church and a dedicated runner with the VA National Guard Marathon team. “Dempsey is selfless, always caring, will give all he can give to anyone in need and seeks out ways to continuously give back,” writes his nominator. 

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48. Todd Williams, MechanicsvilleTodd Williams

Todd was selected as the Honor Graduate in his fire academy where he was known for always helping and mentoring fellow students. Today he is an inspiring emergency responder with Hanover County Fire Station 7/Mechanicsville Vol. Fire Dept. He is currently taking additional EMT classes to better serve Hanover’s citizens. “His values, ethics, level headedness and good will make him someone any agency or entity would be fortunate to have among their workforce,” writes one of his nominators. 

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49. Dr. Vivian Williamson, PetersburgVivian Williamson

Dr. Williamson is the executive director of the HOPE Center, a faith based organization that serves the community with prescription drugs, food, and rental assistance. Dr. Williamson, a retired civil servant from Fort Lee, volunteers every day and is known for helping those in need.  

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50. Lisa Worcester, StaffordLisa Worcester

As a pediatric occupational therapist, Lisa has dedicated her life to helping others. “Lisa is caring, kind, loving, dedicated, strong, and selfless. She has all the characteristics of a true hero,” writes her nominator. Lisa has served on numerous nonprofit boards, is active in her church, a Girl Scout leader, the founder of a local nonprofit school, The Stafford Academy, and a local business owner at Helping Hands, which offers pediatric occupational therapy. 

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In Memoriam: Robert B. Hughes III, MechanicsvilleRobert B Hughes III

Of the many positive attributes associated with Robert B. Hughes III, one stands out the most: compassion for others. He built a reputation over the years for always asking others how they’re doing and then sincerely complimenting them. In between those compliments and pats on the back, Robert took action. From building things with his hands to spreading the word about valuable causes and fundraisers, he was a messenger for all that is good in his community. At Men in Ministry he built handicap ramps for people in need every Monday and Friday, totaling over 500 ramps. In addition he served in the National Guard for over 20 years and was active in both the VFW Post 9808 as a member of the Color Guard and the American Legion Post 175 where he was a Post Commander. Robert also found time to help pick up trash from the roadways on Saturdays with the Department of Transportation. During the Vietnam War, he served his country with pride. Robert was a true hero, a leader that will always be remembered for what he left to his community and for inspiring acts of selflessness around Virginia. 

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2014 Hometown Heroes Events

The 2014 Allen & Allen HOMETOWN HEROES will be honored at a series of concerts taking place in Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Charlottesville.  The law firm invites the community to come out and celebrate these extraordinary individuals.

Concert Schedule:

Friday July 18, 2014
Second Draw Concert*
Charlottesville, Virginia
Fridays After Five

Friday August 1, 2014
Dustin Lynch/Craig Campbell Concert*
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Celebrate Virginia Concert

Thursday August 21, 2014
Scotty McCreery Concert*
Richmond, VA
Innsbrook Afterhours

*The 2014 Hometown Heroes will be recognized on stage after the opening act.

Follow Allen & Allen on social media to stay informed and up to date on the 2014 Hometown Heroes program, winners and events.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/allen.and.allen
Twitter: @allenandallen
Google+: plus.google.com/+Allenandallen

To learn about the 50 Hometown Heroes honored in 2013, click here.
To learn about the 50 Hometown Heroes honored in 2012, click here.
To learn about the 50 Hometown Heroes honored in 2011, click here.
To learn about the 100 Hometown Heroes honored in 2010, click here.

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