Hometown Heroes 2018

Hometown Heroes

For more than 100 years, our attorneys and staff have been inspired by those in the community who make Virginia a great place to live and work. That’s why each year, we share the stories of the Hometown Heroes that generate positive change in our community or in the lives of others.

A community is so much more than just a group of people: it’s the spirit we create when we work together with our neighbors to help one another. Everywhere in Virginia are individuals who are driven to volunteer, motivate, create, and donate to their hometowns. We call these special people Hometown Heroes.

“We find our lives in spending them in the service of others.”
-George Allen Sr., founder of the Allen Law Firm.

To celebrate our 100th Anniversary in 2010, Allen & Allen recognized outstanding members of the communities we serve who embody and demonstrate the ideals of service and action that our firm was founded upon. Honoring these dedicated citizens was so fulfilling and uplifting for both our firm and community that it became an annual event.

After careful consideration, these 20 nominees were chosen to be the 2018 Allen & Allen Hometown Heroes because of their untiring commitment to helping others.

Our Heroes

Myra Anderson

An advocate for mental health and physical fitness in the Charlottesville area, Myra Anderson works to promote the importance of literacy, exercise, and mental health awareness in her community. She founded the Princess Book Club as a way to inspire and empower girls by sharing her belief that “books are to the mind what exercise is to the body.” As a fitness coach, Myra leads “pay what you can” classes to provide anyone, no matter their financial situation, the opportunity to learn how to live a happy, healthy lifestyle. Because of her tireless efforts, she was named a Health Hero by Oprah Magazine in 2017. Myra is a believer that everyone has something of value to contribute to their community and says, “Wherever you are, whoever you are—you can still help to inspire others to be their best.”

Tony Brown

Tony Brown, a teacher at Blue Ridge High School, inspires and leads his students by example through his involvement in community service projects. Ten years ago, Tony founded a Greene County food pantry, where he volunteers every Saturday morning. Once a year, his students gather to pack and deliver meals to be distributed by Rise Against Hunger to poverty stricken areas around the world. Tony has also partnered with Blue Ridge High School for the purpose of expanding third world nations’ economic and educational opportunities through programs including “Ride the Ridge”, the high school’s annual spring bike race that raises funds for World Bike Organization. Tony encourages his students to learn about life through service and gratitude. “Exposing students to how different people’s situations impact the way they live, broadens their perspective on life and service.”

Mark Casper

Mark Casper is a former US Marine who leads the Tech for Troops Project, an organization that provides software training, computer skills, and social support for veterans in the Richmond area. He is passionate about helping those struggling both mentally and physically as a result of their service. Mark lists his greatest motivators as the connections he makes with other veterans in the community and the positive changes he sees them experience as a result of his efforts. He was owner and operator of an IT firm when he learned that Tech for Troops needed help with their mission, and he knew he had the right set of skills to get the job done. He accepted the position of Executive Director with the organization in 2016. “The veteran brotherhood is a strong one. When Tech for Troops needed help, I knew that I was in the right place at the right time.”

Duron Chavis

Duron Chavis has dedicated his work to fighting food deserts by increasing education and teaching communities how to use green spaces for food cultivation and positive community engagement. As a food justice advocate, Duron has been active in the Richmond community for the last 10 years. Through the Lewis Ginter Urban Gardener Program, Duron teaches communities how to cultivate their own produce, even if they live in an urban environment. Duron has also worked with Harding Street Urban Ag Center as the project director for the past two years, where he conducts research and develops educational programs focused on training members of the community in operations, marketing and entrepreneurship. “My career is dedicated to human service. I have found that when you transform environments, you identify tangible impacts that create shared vision and purpose for communities. My goal is to teach a new generation of leaders about how to share power and accountability to solve community problems.”

Kelly Chenault

Kelly Chenault wanted to be part of the solution and make a difference when others were in need. This energy prompted her to create The ALEX Project (Actively Loving and Encouraging eXcellence) in memory of Hanover Deputy Alex Moore. As organizer of The ALEX Project, Kelly pairs volunteers with elementary classrooms to support teachers and provide help and encouragement to students in Title-1 schools. This volunteer assistance is credited with boosting student test scores, improving overall behavior, and even helping one school achieve full accreditation. Kelly feels that she has a responsibility to the kids, the teachers, Alex’s family, and Alex’s memory. “Even with all of that, I do this because it’s a labor of love. Seeing how much these children thrive with encouragement is incredibly fulfilling.”

Darlene Chinn

Darlene Chinn, a former military spouse, is passionate about helping veterans. She first became involved with Veterans Helping Veterans Now (VHVNOW) after meeting its founder, Henry Mack, at a grandparents support group, Kinship Connection. She is an integral part of the fundraising efforts to build a new community outreach center for VHVNOW that will provide expanded services to veterans. Through VHVNOW, she helps veterans and former military wives and children fight for benefits. Darlene also helps women suffering from PTSD and other health issues. In addition to her work with VHVNOW, Darlene is involved in community service projects for youth and adults. “If I can help, I’ll do whatever I can. I want people to know you’re not alone, but you have to seek out the help.”

Hassan Fountain

Hassan Fountain is a champion for literacy who has provided over 46,000 books to children in Richmond’s underserved neighborhoods since 2016. Hassan always had books in his home growing up because his mother worked as a librarian, and he learned at a very young age that reading was an essential tool to building a better life. When Hassan discovered that nearly all of the children in Gilpin Court had no books at home, he started his first free library in the neighborhood. His organization, Fountain for Youth, has since established eleven free libraries that he and other volunteers regularly maintain. When talking about the importance of reading, Hassan said, “Literacy lasts forever—it’s the skill that builds all others.”

Kenneth Frenier

Driven by his dedication to public safety, Kenneth Frenier entered the Cadet Firefighter program in Colonial Heights in 1973 and served until his retirement in 2007 as a Battalion Chief. Kenneth continues to serve the Colonial Heights community as a member of its city council and as the sole American Red Cross disaster response representative to the area while simultaneously balancing the roles of husband, father, and grandfather. When asked if he’d ever consider a leisurely retirement, he said, “Public safety is my way of life and I plan to continue to give all I can. I feel it’s my duty and responsibility.”

Lynn Frohnapfel

Lynn Frohnapfel, a teaching veteran of over 18 years, is currently in her third year of working with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder in Stafford, Virginia. Lynn is the founder of Circle of Friends, a classroom program that enables students to make connections to the world around them through social interaction in a safe environment. Currently, Lynn is working on making Circle of Friends a school-wide program. It is her goal to educate others about the daunting and perplexing challenges students with Autism Spectrum Disorder face. As a mentor to other teachers, she uses cutting edge techniques like Zone Regulation to assist in communication with the students in her care. “It has always been my desire to teach children since I was young. After spending some time in a few special education classes in college, I knew I had found my passion.”

Danielle Gilbert

Danielle Gilbert, creator of Manifest in You Consulting, is driven to help women in the Richmond community achieve greatness. She works to organize career skills and financial literacy training, arrange mentoring, and provide the resources needed to accomplish personal and professional goals. Danielle is driven to be the role model she wants to see in the community. She attributes her motivation for countless hours of volunteer work to helping others identify their purpose and their passion, and says, “I know that anyone, no matter what you have or where you came from, can accomplish their goals if they have faith and a true belief in themselves.”

Crystal Holmes

Crystal Holmes sees a need in the Amelia community and works to address it. She has organized the collection of bottled water for those affected by natural disasters, the collection of office paper and school supplies for the local elementary school, and has coordinated volunteers for various labor-sharing projects within the community. Crystal says that the inspiration and motivation her work provides to others is what drives her to continue to find creative resolutions to problems. She encourages taking action and being kind. “Being proactive can make a difference, no matter how small or insignificant you think you might be. Always pay it forward.”

Mary James

After working with a veterans’ program as a university student, Mary James saw how great the need was for veteran connection and counseling in the wake of the Vietnam War. Her drive to help led to the creation of COVER, Community Outreach to Vietnam Era Vets, in 1982. One of the first non-profit organizations to receive a contract from the Veterans Administration, COVER provides direct counseling to veterans from all conflicts and their families in the Shenandoah Valley. Mary credits all involved with COVER for its longevity and its specialized service. “It takes a community to support a community. The need for our help is still there, so we’re persistent. I won’t quit.”

Randy Johnson

In 1999, Randy Johnson saw news footage of a tornado that devastated part of Oklahoma and was compelled to help. After delivering a convoy of water, food, and supplies to those in need, he knew that he’d found his calling. Randy founded God’s Pit Crew, an organization in Danville that helps individuals, families, and communities in times of crisis. Since 1999, Randy has organized the delivery of over 100-million pounds of supplies, has responded to 100 major disasters in 25 states and 11 countries, and currently manages more than 400 volunteers. “Don’t let fear hold you back. Everyone can and should try to make a positive change. Small or large, all good deeds are important.”

Cindy Maynard

Cindy Maynard created the Maynard Childhood Cancer Foundation after facing the earth-shattering news of her son’s cancer diagnosis in 2004. When she learned that research for childhood cancer lacked funding, she set out to make a change by fundraising, serving as an advocate, and providing educational outreach. Since 2004, Cindy has expanded her support of those in treatment by providing comfort items for hospitalized children, coping books for children and families, and even by lobbying on Capitol Hill with the Alliance for Childhood Cancer. Her son is now in remission, but Cindy’s efforts have not slowed down. “Seeing the overwhelming response from others who also want to help is truly motivating. If you feel called to help anyone or any cause you care about, take the leap.”

Frank McCarty

Frank McCarty’s leadership, community service, and generosity have inspired his community for the past 34 years to come together for an annual Oyster Roast fundraiser. Each year, his business, White Oak Equipment, and his local church ask members of the Fredericksburg community to nominate someone with a significant financial and medical need. All proceeds from the oyster roast go directly to the selected beneficiary to help ease the burden of medical costs. To date, the annual fundraiser has raised over $1 million. “I really feel like I have a calling to do this. So many people need help. My community has pulled together and rallied around this event. ”

Amanda Eaddy Oliver

Amanda Oliver is determined to make a positive impact on the next generation of young women in Central Virginia. She established the organization Brand New to provide safe spaces for girls to be vulnerable, to learn, and to be empowered. One of Brand New’s annual activities, the Books Before Boys Pajama Jam, has been celebrated as the “ultimate girl power event” by attendees. By teaching young women to lift each other up instead of competing, Amanda works to create a community of supportive and encouraging female relationships. She hopes to help teens avoid poor choices, but stresses, “When life goes in a direction you don’t plan, know that you can still start over and make a difference.”

Fred Orlove

Fred Orelove has worked as a special education and disability instructor for over 30 years. In recent years, Fred has also become a dedicated volunteer for Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) and is also an active volunteer with Circle Preschool, a program that provides trauma informed resources and a safe space for children affected by trauma. Fred also works with the Trauma Informed Community Network and is a member of the Trauma Informed Education Committee that aims to provide resources to schools at every education level. “I’ve always had a strong sense of social justice,” said Orelove. “I don’t feel like a hero by any means, but I do hope people read my story and become more attuned to the risk children with disabilities face and the trauma of children who have been abused and neglected.”

Bradley Smith

As generous with his time as he is with a smile, Bradley Smith works as an instructor at the Drug Enforcement Administration training academy at Quantico. In addition to going above and beyond to help his students excel in their training and further ensure the safety of the community, Bradley has organized and hosted training demonstration days for more than 20 years for the Sunshine Kids, an organization dedicated to providing positive group activities and emotional support for children with cancer. Despite his own cancer diagnosis in 2017 and his ongoing treatment, he still gives all he can to those who need it most. “It’s humbling to hear that I inspire others, but I look to the Sunshine Kids for my own inspiration. Seeing their resolve and determination has given me a unique perspective to face my own situation.”

Mike Thompson

Seeing the good that was being done by others in the community inspired Mike Thompson’s 50 years of service as a volunteer EMS provider with Southside Virginia Emergency Crew. Mike began his volunteer career at the age of 16 when he was still a student at Petersburg High School, and served throughout college and while raising a family. He currently works with young EMS volunteers to help ensure that the organization continues to deliver the highest-quality prehospital care. Mike was named Crewman of the Year by Southside Virginia Emergency Crew in 2017. “My greatest motivation has been the feeling that comes with belonging to a group that gives selflessly to the community. I hope that others will follow my lead in learning and serving.”

Dorothy Tompkins

Dorothy Tompkins believes that if someone is willing to turn their life around, then they should be given the opportunity. She gave women in need of structured recovery from alcohol and drug addictions in Charlottesville that opportunity when she founded Georgia’s Healing House in 2015. With a small team of dedicated volunteers, Dorothy operates the home that provides structured recovery, social and emotional support, and counseling to its residents. Her dedication to the residents of Georgia’s Healing House is fueled by the positive changes she has seen in the women who have been impacted by the program. “All of the women here are good at their core. When someone makes the choice and works to break the cycle of addiction, it’s so worthwhile to witness that it can bring you to tears with gratitude.”

Our Community

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