Hometown Heroes 2011

Hometown Heroes 2011

The personal injury law firm of Allen & Allen was founded on service and action. For over 100 years, Allen & Allen attorneys and staff have been inspired by those in the community who make Virginia such a great place to live and work. In 2011 we’re honored to again feature local heroes responsible for community initiatives and acts of kindness.

This May our firm received an overwhelming response from the community, with hundreds of nominations for impressive candidates from Richmond, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Charlottesville.

After careful consideration, we’ve selected fifty individuals in Virginia to carry forward the Hometown Hero tradition.

Veona Ackerman

A Richmond grandmother loved by many, Veona is known for lending a helping hand to others. She has provided shelter to a local individual dying of cancer as well as numerous families without a place to live. Veona also cares for a 98-year-old fellow Richmonder and helps disaster victims by sending care packages.

Alan Asef

Alan Asef created a food drive, "Dinner With Andrew," months after the death of one of his employees at Domino's Pizza. Now in its 11th year, the employee's mother calls the event's organizer, "an angel on Earth" that has given her, "the priceless gift of remembrance while serving the community at the same time."

McClellan Jerry Bagby

Nominated by his daughter, Jerry has overcome addiction and homelessness. He launched an annual picnic in 2001, called MOTIV8S Citywide Recognition Day, for three hundred residents a year, complete with entertainment, giveaways, and educational speakers. Jerry has also created MOTIV8S non-profit to promote positive lifestyles, and he volunteers regularly at probation offices, hospitals, homeless shelters and churches.

Tricia Barnes

Tricia is known for helping those in need at homeless shelters and through volunteer projects at Hope House and Habitat for Humanity. Friends call Tricia, "patient, kind, and loving," as evidenced by her service to others delivered in a quiet and modest manner.

David Boor

Friends report that David is, "the kind of person that always puts others first...he goes above and beyond to make the community and world a better place." David is the current president of the Lions of Nelson, a representative of the American Red Cross, and a friend to everyone he meets.

Dr. Marietta Brown

Dr. Brown has cared for local families for over 30 years and is the founder of The House of Restoration Community Development Program. She has helped at risk children, fed homeless individuals, and provided clothes to those in need. Friends credit Dr. Brown as being a caring leader that has brought lasting change to the Petersburg community.

James Cullinan III

James, known in his community for putting others first and never expecting any form of payment, volunteers as a firefighter and paramedic. He is a father, Battalion Chief and deacon at his church. His community says that James is, "full of compassion, desire, love, and motivation to help others."

Rusty Davis

A popular principal at Spotsylvania High School, Rusty has served as an educator, leader, coach, and role model for almost two decades. A hero in the eyes of all that know him, Rusty has dedicated himself to inspiring, teaching, and changing his community.

Cameron Evans

Known for her compassion for others, Cameron, a mother of three children, gave her kidney to save the life of a complete stranger in Wisconsin. Friends and family say this is no surprise, as Cameron is known for giving to others and performing acts of kindness, both large and small, without hesitation.

Joshua Finney

Joshua fearlessly carried a woman who was unable to walk from a burning home shortly before a propane tank exploded. "He did not look or ask for any special awards or recognition," explains a friend, "he did what he had to do."

Thomas Fish

Tom, a pharmacist, has served the Stafford County Special Education Advisory Committee for fifteen years after his daughter passed away from spinal muscular atrophy. Tom is an active member of the Knights of Columbus, serves on the board of directors for the Moss Clinic, is a race organizer to generate money for causes in his community, and helps others receive medical care.

Robert Fitts

A dedicated husband and community member, Robert is a member of the Southside Virginia Rescue Squad, a cardiac technician, and an EMT. He has delivered 13 babies and has saved three individuals having a cardiac event. At 60 years old, Robert, an active member of Second Presbyterian Church, finds time to serve Petersburg every Saturday and Sunday night.

Mitch Fitzgerald, Jr.

The youngest Lieutenant to ever serve the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department, Mitch has saved neighbors and their homes, provided care for the homeless, and served as a member of the Honor Guard. Friends say that Mitch, who finds time to mow people's lawns for free, has, "the heart of gold and goes out of his way to serve those around him."

Katie Goodman

Katie, only 11-years-old, had a goal this year to feed 1,100 people and she reached it this summer. She has now expanded the goal to 2011 people. She has collected canned food donations, arranged a Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign in Hanover County, and has created a drop-off site at the Ashland Feed Store for people to leave vegetables for the Central Virginia Food Bank. She speaks to organizations about giving, encourages hunters to donate venison as part of Hunt for the Hungry, and strives to find new ways to get others involved in serving those in need.

Ashley Gray

Ashley served in Afghanistan in 2010 and has been in the Marine Reserves for the past 13 years. He coaches his daughters' softball teams, as part of the Caroline Little League, and when not on Marine duty finds time to help others in his community.

Jett Greenstreet

Nominated by his neighbors, Jett is credited as being the type of community member who is always willing to lend a hand. Friends say that Jett is quick to provide a ride to someone without transportation, fix broken toilets and sinks for the elderly and those with disabilities, repair lawn mowers and other yard equipment without being asked, and simply provide a kind smile to a friend having a bad day.

Stacy Greer

Despite a painful medical condition, Stacy created Christian Outreach, an effort that started as a table at a yard sale and now serves four hundred people each year. She sorts through donations, manages two stores, and picks up donated items for families in need of furniture.

Chris Harris

Chris is devoted to education and making a lasting impact on the lives of at-risk youth in King William County. A paraprofessional at Cool Spring Primary School, he provides support to children struggling with academics, coordinates the "Lil' Gent's Club," mentors young men in need, and serves as a cafeteria monitor so that other teachers may have a lunch break. Chris created "Gentleman's Day," occurring once a month with the goal of encouraging over 200 young men to take pride in their appearance by wearing a tie to school.

Keith Hoge

Keith, a recently commended 1st Sergeant in the Marine Corps, has served his country in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Liberia. He will be deployed for Afghanistan again in September. His family says that Keith, "Loves serving his country...he fights for our freedom everyday."

Gina Hudson

"Gina is my 'Nana' and for as long as I can remember she has worked at Virginia CURE," writes Gina's nominator. At CURE, Gina serves K.I.D.S. (Kids of Inmates will Define Our Society) by providing gifts during the holidays, backpacks during the school year, and serving as an advocate before the General Assembly.

Charles Hunter, Jr.

A single parent of an eight-year-old son, Charles, 28, is known as an "awesome dad" in his community. He serves as a firefighter and finds time to help not only his family, but also those around him on a daily basis.

Ryleigh Katstra

At seven-years-old Ryleigh's mother read her an article about a local teen's campaign against hunger. Ryleigh quickly responded by helping the Neighbors-4-Neighbors food drive through her collection of over 1,200 ponds of food. Now eight, Ryleigh has continued her food drive, securing over 3,300 pounds of food and feeding over 2,570 individuals.

Aaron Keller

Aaron is praised by his neighbor who says he is always there with a smile and a helping hand. Aaron jumps in to help with carpooling for a blind neighbor and is always willing to lend his time to help with lawn care and household repairs for those in need – all without asking for anything in return. His friendly, caring attitude makes him a hero to those around him.

George Kuhlow

George has volunteered for Shelter for Help in Emergency, VFW, Head Start, JABA, Habitat for Humanity, Meals of Wheels, and Special Olympics, as well as helped in countless assisted living facilities. Additionally, he assists seniors in applying for assistance with social security, visits local seniors in their homes, and supports individuals with intellectual disabilities at Region 10 Community Services.

Jane LaVerne

A tireless member of the Deltaville Rescue Squad and the Governor's State Emergency Response Team, Jane is known by the community for "giving her time to volunteer for activities that save lives." When not volunteering, Jane has managed operating rooms at MCV for over 30 years.

Peggy Law

Peggy is known for "opening doors for people with disabilities, one dog at a time." As the founder of Service Dogs of Virginia, Inc., Peggy has impacted the lives of countless Virginians with disabilities and their families.

Branson Taylor Layne

While riding with his parents, an observant eight-year-old, Branson Taylor Layne, eyed an elderly woman on the ground, all alone in her yard. He insisted that his parents turn around immediately, and has since been credited for saving the injured woman's life.

Mark Lorenzoni

Operating a family business for over 30 years, Mark finds time to create, promote, and direct hundreds of not-for-profit races designed to create community and bolster confidence of local runners. Friends say that Mark has "helped us all become better people through coaching us toward our goals both in athletics and life."

Jacqueline Lowry

Jackie is the mother of four boys who she adopted at birth from drug-addicted parents. She is described as quick to "offer a hand, a kind word, or hours of labor for a friend, a neighbor, and even a stranger." She works with children with special needs in the City of Richmond, runs her own local business, and cares for the elderly.

Sharon Mallory

A dedicated 4-H agent in Petersburg, Sharon has established a strong 4-H program that addresses the needs of youth in her community. Offering a variety of activities, Sharon has forged partnerships with local organizations and has inspired many through ongoing learning opportunities, summer camps, and mentorships.

Jackie Maroney

Jackie is the founder of Richmond Friends of Animals, a nonprofit animal and environmental advocacy group of volunteers who stand up against animal abuse by promoting compassionate choices, holding peaceful demonstrations, and outreach events. She spends countless hours coordinating rescues, transporting animals, and promoting environmentally conscious living.

Kathy Martin

A good friend to the Prince George Police Department, Kathy has created a successful Neighborhood Watch program in her community. Kathy, a cancer survivor, has provided food and clothes for those in need, cared for the elderly, and raised seven children.

Kouri Mayhew

A dedicated volunteer at the Ashland Fire Department (Station 1), Kouri has responded to over 250 emergency calls, provided over 2,000 hours of service, and participated in countless hours of training. Named as the Ashland Fire Company's Firefighter of the Year in 2010, his peers say that they rely on Kouri for leadership and experience.

Dana Nelson

Dana Nelson, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, has never backed down from a challenge. As a tireless volunteer, mentor, and philanthropist, Dana has co-founded Operation Hope, served as a speaker on a variety of subjects at local high schools, and advocated for individuals with disabilities. He has provided funding for student travel and scholarships, served two governors, and has inspired programming at Hanover Habitat for Humanity. Dana is currently working on a book about his life story.

Lisa Olsson

Nominated by her son, Lisa is known in her community as an "extremely caring individual who puts other people and animals above herself." Her daily routine involves helping homeless individuals, rescuing animals without homes, and making Fredericksburg a better place for all. Lisa volunteers and supports the following Low Cost Spay and Neuter Clinics in and around the Fredericksburg area and works to encourge her community to adopt their next pet from the local animal shelters and rescue groups: Kincheloe (Spotsylvania VA) 540-507-7461; Prevent A Liter (P.A.L) 804-448-1043; Princess Anne Animal Hospital (F'burgVA) 540-373-8181.

Jesse and Tammy Ressler

When someone is in need, this couple helps – no questions asked. "They were my caretakers and lifesavers," says one friend who received the support of Jesse and Tammy after her husband was hospitalized. This dynamic duo helped walk and feed the dogs, buy groceries, wash dishes, and run errands everyday after work for the family in need.

Brian and Susan Rich

Brian and his wife Susan dedicate their time to raising money and donations for our troops. The couple founded A Grateful Nation, a nonprofit organization responsible for gathering over 10 tons of donations (from soap to nuts) to send to the armed forces stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. The organization has shipped over 1,000 cases of donations at no cost to the troop or taxpayers.

Rebecca Silverstein

Constantly displaying acts of unselfishness and kindness, Rebecca volunteers her time and money to bettering the world, domestically and internationally. She volunteers at the Chancellor Fire Department by staffing ambulances overnight. By day she mentors for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program, as well as volunteering her time and donating funds to a medical mission in Peru. Rebecca has also spent time in the Amazon, assisting those who may never have seen a doctor.

James Smith

Nominated by his sister, James is described as a dedicated community member who "gives so much of his time to youth and young adults in our hometown." He serves as the executive director of the YMCA of Greater Richmond, volunteers as a coach, serves as the president of the Louisa County Education Foundation, volunteers with the Bright Beginnings program, and finds time to speak to the youth at Louisa County High School.

Kevin Smith

Kevin, a Business Analyst for Markel Corporation, splits his free time between working towards his Masters degree and performing charity work in the community. He volunteers with the Central Virginia Food Bank, Junior Achievement, Special Olympics Virginia, Big Brothers Big Sisters and numerous other nonprofit organizations. Kevin is responsible for driving an annual head-shaving event in Innsbrook that raised over $30,000 in 2010 and close to $50,000 in 2011 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation to support childhood cancer research. Additionally, he is currently planning a second festival in Innsbrook taking place on October 29th to support the Faison School for Autism.

John Stott

After beating cancer twice and having a successful bone marrow transplant, John's son lost his life on April 20, 2011 due to an earlier infection. During the twenty-month period that his son spent defeating cancer, John delivered numerous random acts of kindness to friends, family members, and other children with severe illness, providing continuous support to the doctors, nurses, and technicians at Children's National Medical Center, and nominating a staff member at INOVA for "Nurse of the Year." During his struggle, a time when most would seek help, John delivered it.

Tamara Tatum

Tamara, nominated by her husband for serving as his hero, teaches 12th grade girls about positive life decisions, helps homeless individuals, and serves as a Registered Nurse. She has also assisted under-nourished children and orphans in Guatemala.

Tierra Terrell

Tierra created a transportation business, ABUS Van Services, to help working mothers feel safe about the transportation of their children en route to school each day. She has assisted with transportation to Henrico Public Schools as well as the Boys and Girls Club, while finding time to serve in a "ladies help group," called Ten Shoes, dedicated to supporting single parents in providing for their children.

Franklin Thurston, Sr.

Franklin made the decision to come out of retirement to take over the Webelos Cub Scouts and to serve as the Committee Chairman of the Scouting Committee. His friends report that he "shapes and molds young boys into good and productive young men." Franklin is known to use his own money and resources to "get the boys what they need."

Ashley Thweatt

Committed to family and country, Thweatt, a native of Prince George, left behind his two sons to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a member of the United States Air Force, he has rescued injured victims in Iraq and helped his fellow soldiers gain medical attention. "The sacrifices he has made are great. He is kind and compassionate. Always worrying about the other guy," report those who know him.

James Tupper

James is called the "angel" of his street in his small neighborhood. He serves on the Board of the Home Owners Association, organizes block parties, shovels snow for elderly neighbors, visits neighbors in the hospital, and runs errands for those in need. "He is the most reliable person if help of any kind is needed," explain his neighbors.

Glen Wilkerson

It's impossible to drive through the county without seeing Glen working on something. Those who know him best report that, "he is the kind of man who would give someone the shirt off his back without any questions." A county employee that goes beyond the call of duty, Glen takes only one regular break a day – a standing lunch with his wife.

Christopher Woody

The founder of The Woody Foundation, Christopher helps youth and families in need throughout the City of Richmond. He exhibits random acts of kindness towards the less fortunate in the city by assisting families during the holidays, purchasing school supplies, and organizing food drives.