Hometown Heroes 2013

Hometown Heroes 2013

The personal injury law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen has announced the winners of the 2013 HOMETOWN HEROES award in celebration of local acts of kindness and heroism.

This is an exciting time of year for Allen & Allen — it’s time for the firm, and the community at large, to celebrate the act of giving,” said Trent Kerns, President of Allen & Allen. “For over 100 years Allen & Allen has been greatly inspired by the heroes around us — the community members who spend each day improving the cities, small towns, and neighborhoods throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Nominations for the annual HOMETOWN HEROES award were accepted from April 1, 2013 to May 3, 2013. The public was asked to complete a nomination form in honor of their favorite local hero responsible for generating positive and measurable change in the community. “It’s an annual tradition for Allen & Allen to pause, look around, and pay tribute to the good citizens of the Commonwealth who define what it takes to be a true hero,” said Kerns.

The selected HOMETOWN HEROES represent inspiration to Allen & Allen. They are first responders, neighborhood advocates, foster parents, disability advocates, teachers, small business owners, and more. Each of the local individuals selected represent a unique and inspiring story of giving in some capacity, either on a large scale or through small everyday acts of kindness.  Read about each of the HOMETOWN HEROES.

The winning HOMETOWN HEROES were honored at a series of award events taking place in Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Charlottesville.

Mike Arnold

"Mike is a doer," says his nominator. A graduate of the Apprentice School at the Newport News Shipyard and the crew chief of a combat helicopter while serving in the Marines, Mike brought that same gung-ho attitude to his Nationwide Insurance agency. Throughout his life, Mike has served as a member of the volunteer rescue squad, an official for interscholastic youth sports, and a member and officer of Fluvanna's Rotary Club (http://www.fluvannarotary.org). He also is the force behind a very successful Fluvanna School System (http://www.fluco.org/SitePages/index.aspx) program to radically improve inexperienced driver safety.

Karen Atkinson

Karen is the founder of Feed RVA, a nonprofit organization that teaches Richmond-area communities the importance of food systems, healthy/lifelong nutritional habits, and accessibility to quality food. Her goal is to foster food justice in the Richmond/Tri-Cities area. In addition to Feed RVA, Karen is the founder of Grow RVA and Umbrella Market (which manages South of the James Farmers Market), Food Truck Rally, and Street Foodies.

Corey Beazley

Corey Beazley, a lieutenant at Hanover Fire & EMS, is known for his ability to bring together numerous public safety agencies across the region in an effort to make our communities a better place to live. A tremendous leader, Corey has worked closely with the Central Virginia Urban Area Security Initiative to create a secure and safe way for more than 20 localities to communicate during a time of crisis.

Christine Blake

t only 20 years old, Christine has earned the respect of those in her community for effectively operating the Old Dominion Humane Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing homeless and abandoned animals from the environment, high-kill shelters, and owners who can no longer care for them. By working with committed volunteers, foster homes, and local veterinarians, Christine rescues hundreds of animals every year.

Elizabeth Breeden

Giving comes naturally to Elizabeth Breeden. Not only does she give freely of her time to support mental health, but she also leads PACEM, (www.pacemshelter.org), a grassroots organization that provides shelter for the homeless. Elizabeth is an integral part of ArtInPlace (www.artinplace.org), a nonprofit organization that places sculptural works of art in public areas of Charlottesville. You'll also find this selfless woman lending her time and talents to her church, organizing the memorial garden and art shows, teaching Sunday School, and mentoring children.

Chris Bryant

Detective Bryant, a police officer for more 14 years, is credited for saving lives and keeping our communities safe by making more than 500 drug arrests. His colleagues describe his dedication and commitment as unparalleled and an inspiration to all.

Tim Carlson

Tim is a dedicated and tireless volunteer for Fredericksburg Rescue Squad, Spotsylvania Volunteer Fire Department, and King George Fire and Rescue. The founder of the Fredericksburg Rescue Bike Team, he was on the bike team to first to reach a man who had suffered a heart attack during a recent race, saving the runner's life (http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2011/112011/11302011/667742) by stabilizing him and performing CPR until help arrived. Tim is currently deployed helping the tornado relief efforts in Oklahoma.

Arlene Carter

Arlene, who is an educator, poet, and motivational speaker, is known throughout the Charlottesville-Albemarle area for using poetry and music to help people with disabilities lead happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives in an inclusive community. Through her poetry performances, she has motivated hundreds of people with disabilities to write their own poetry and publish their own books.

Bradford Caudill

Brad is known for leaving a profound impression on students with autism at Stafford High School. For more than six years, he served as a "buddy" for the school's autism program, where he formed friendships that will last a lifetime. Serving as a role model, Brad helped students both with and without disabilities better understand community inclusion and to accept the differences that make all students unique.

Penny Chaffin

Penny, an employee at John Tyler Community College, is the kind of friend and community member who will do anything for someone else in need. When a co-worker was ill, Penny took personal time off work to drive her colleague to the hospital on a regular basis. She remained by her friend's side, providing assistance until the end. "In this busy world we all need friends and co-workers like Penny Chaffin," says her nominator.

Robin Clark

Robin is a sportsman first and a quadriplegic second. He is the State Coordinator of Virginia Wheelin' Sporstmen, providing outdoor opportunities such as hunting, fishing and shooting to individuals with disabilities, disabled veterans, and combat-injured servicemen. He is past president, and current Chairman of the Board of the Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. During the 41 years since his injury, Robin continues to mentor new spinal cord injured patients in local rehab centers. He has served on the boards of Independent Resource Center, Service Dogs of Virginia, Wintergreen Adaptive Skiing, and Thomas Jefferson Disabilities Services Board.

Jermaine Chandler

Jermaine Chandler is the Assistant Coach of the Richmond Metro Basketball Club. He dedicates his time to mentoring and coaching ages 9 – 19, helping the young men mature athletically and academically with the goal of advancing their college opportunities. His time is spent encouraging academic growth and excellence and providing recreational activities that serve as a diversion to at-risk-behavior. His nominator says "he has helped the team members to mature and get into college – many which would not have had the opportunity if it wasn't for him." The Richmond Metro is an Amateur Athletic Union non proffice 501c3 organization designed to support the youth of the Richmond community offering them a safe athletic environment to learn positive sportsmanship, team work, focus on academic growth while promoting college scholarship opportunities.

Kristine Clifford

Kristine is known in her community for her use of music to inspire others. She is the kind of person that gives time and talent to others. Kristine is the piano accompanist for Maranatha Second Generation and Maranatha Touring Choir, both choirs for young people in the Fredericksburg area, and also as a member of the Maranatha Gospel Choir. She has also served as choir director at Christ Episcopal Church in Spotsylvania for 19 years, where she leads the adult and children's choirs as well as Children's Chapel. With her positive attitude, she always puts a smile on the faces of everyone around her.

John Collison

Helping people in their time of need is what John Collison is all about. Volunteering at Frog Level Volunteer Rescue Squad and Bowing Green Volunteer Rescue Squad (http://bowlinggreenvrs.tripod.com), John has devoted years of his life, working in a variety of extreme weather and fire situations, to care for community. According to his nominator, "He is loved by everyone who comes in contact with him."

Bonnie and Bill Cooper

A couple that cares, Bill and Bonnie manage a Bread of Life program that provides food to individuals in need living in Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Buckingham counties. By partnering with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (www.brafb.org), Bill and Bonnie also provide a mobile food pantry twice a month in Scottsville, impacting almost 700 families each month. In addition, the duo volunteers weekly for Meals-on-Wheels (www.cvillemeals.org) and organizes an annual fish fry fundraiser to support Meals-on-Wheels.

George Crocker

When the pastor left Tabernacle Baptist Church, George, who had been a deacon there for more than 50 years and is a leader with the Virginia Baptist State Convention (www.thevbsc.org), stepped in to make sure the church survived. Also volunteering his time to transport church members and others in the community to doctor's appointments and the community center, this retired postal worker never misses an opportunity to help his church, family, or the community.

Kevin Delaney

Kevin, a juvenile probation officer, finds time to serve as a dispatcher for Southside Electric (www.sec.coop) and as a volunteer with the rescue squad. He's even served on the School Board. Kevin leads an active life by any standards, but he has multiple sclerosis. Despite the fact that he wears leg braces and suffers from heart problems, Kevin is passionate about his job, active in the community, and also advocates for individuals with disabilities.

Shawna and Steven Diemer and Jenna Brandon

On Easter Sunday while driving down Route 53, the Diemer family spotted a wrecked burning car. Steven and daughters, Jenna and Shawna, stopped their van and jumped out to help. Inside was an unconscious man, but the doors were jammed shut from the impact. Pulling driver Jon Hudson out the passenger side window, the heat so intense it was burning their skin, they carried him to safety. Just moments later, the car exploded. While many stood and watched, this courageous father and daughters worked together to save a stranger's life.

Angel Ditzel

Two months ago, 10-year-old Angel Ditzel became paralyzed after suffering a stroke during spinal surgery. "Angel is well-named," says her mother, "because she has always been a smiling, energetic little girl despite many medical problems." Though she has undergone numerous surgeries during her childhood, Angel maintains a positive attitude and inspires all who know her.

William Harris

In Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad's 50-year history, William is the only charter member that remains a full and active member. Serving in all electoral capacities within the squad, he still maintains his certification as an Advanced Life Support provider and EMS instructor, answering numerous standby calls. William teaches monthly ODEMSA training for the Virginia Department of Health and also very successfully trains EMT Basic personnel.

William Haussmann

As a Boy Scout leader and firefighter, EMT, and driver with the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Company, William makes significant contributions to the community just about every day. Recently, however, his training, skills, and intuition had a direct impact on a family member. Putting together limited location information, he was the first responder when his family member's car fell down a 30-foot ravine. William helped secure the scene so his relative could be extracted from the car and she could get medical attention. Regularly saving lives, extinguishing fires, and assisting people in trauma situations, he has always been a hero to his family, but now more than ever.

Joann Henry

After 20 years with Richmond Public Schools, Joann founded Dream Academy in 2012 (http://www.dreamacademyrichmond.org) to help students, who are unsuccessful in the mainstream school system, get their high school diplomas and gain job training and placement. Selflessly working without a salary, she uses her own money to fund the operation. Today, this nonprofit, private school has 17 students enrolled and will award its first diplomas in June.

Carter Hill

A drunk driver killed Carter Hill's son 13 years ago. Since his son's death in 1997, this dedicated father has recounted the story of his son's death countless times, reaching thousands of people, in hopes that it will keep people who have been drinking from getting behind the wheel. Carter tells his story in a nonjudgmental, supportive way, encouraging people to "think outside the box" and realize that the consequences aren't simply legal—they can also be fatal.

Bill Howard

When his father died of Alzheimer's disease, Bill went to the Alzheimer's Association and asked what he could do to help put an end to this disease. For 15 years, he has hosted the Bill Howard Alzheimer's Golf Tournament & Derby Party. Through his tireless efforts, Bill has raised more than $1,000,000 to support Alzheimer's research as well as the programs and services offered by the association.

Brooke Jenkins

Brooke is known for making people smile. A Merchant Service Executive at Virginia National Bank, Brooke has the ability to brighten any room. She is founder and president of Red Shoe Cville, a group designed to support children, families, staff, volunteers, and donors of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charlottesville. She is also the campaign team leader for United Way Thomas Jefferson Area and chairwoman of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce's Business Women's Round Table.

Johnny Johnson

Johnny Johnson (www.johnnypjohnson.com) moved to Fredericksburg in 1959 to teach art at the Walker-Grant High School. What began as a job evolved into a lifetime commitment to family, church, community, and art. There are few people in recent years who have had such a profound impact on the community. He has influenced scores of neighbors, friends, artists, and students. A leader in social issues, Johnny has worked to find common ground between black and white communities. Johnny's entire life has been about having what he calls, "meaningful interactions." He is known as a teacher, community leader, and family man – and now, a hero.

Dale Koglin

Starting his community service when he was only a teenager (as an emergency communications dispatcher), Dale went on to become a Warrenton police officer, eventually working his way up to the role of chief of police. But his service to the community doesn't end there. He has also contributed 50 years of continuous service to the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company, passing on his devotion to the community to his three sons who are also fire company volunteers.

Kathy Lane

Kathy lives to serve those around her. Tirelessly working with seniors, she plans trips at Victory Tabernacle Church (www.victorytab.org), volunteers with Triad-Chesterfield Senior Citizens (www.chesterfield.gov/Triad/), and decorates nursing homes to make them a more pleasant place for residents. But she also loves kids and has volunteered at Crenshaw Elementary School. Says her nominator; Kathy "has a servants heart."

Kimberley Martin

Kim is dedicated to making college available to everyone. As the founder of the KLM Scholarship Foundation (www.klmfoundation.org), she raises funds and distributes scholarship awards to students faced with financial obstacles. With a tremendous desire to support anyone seeking a quality education, Kim insists, "Together, we make education affordable."

Alex Mayes

Alex is a volunteer and community member that demonstrates pride, professionalism, and compassion in everything he does. While serving the Chickahominy Fire Company, and Ashcake Rescue, Alex bolstered public safety and made himself available for service on an as needed basis. Having recently become certified as an Advanced Life Support Provider in Hanover, Alex lends a hand wherever he is needed by assisting his colleagues with fires, motor vehicle accidents, and more.

Bryan McDermott

When 17-year-old Bryan left for boot camp in the U.S. Navy in May, he already knew what it was like to be part of something bigger than himself. He has been an EMT with the King George Fire Rescue & Emergency Services since July 2011, a NJROTC cadet for four years, and an active member of St. Anthony's Catholic Church. Also a member of the American Legion (http://www.legion.org) in King George, he attended Boys State in 2012. Bryan will be serving his country as a hospital corpsman.

Brian Mellott

Whether it's leading a Bible Study, providing a meal (or a meal a week for several months) to families dealing with illnesses, accidents, or family changes, taking photos at events, or even helping with local Girl Scout events, Brian has no problem giving his time to the local community. Every little bit adds up, but Brian proves that we each always have even more to give.

Lynn Morgan

Lynn is the founder of Just A Hand, a non-profit organization that provides baby items, clothes, and shoes for needy children. Lynn's mission is to "give of yourself and teach others to give. No matter how small the gesture, if you ease the burdens of another, you create a better place for us all." Operating her nonprofit out of her home, Lynn touches the lives of hundreds of children in Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Fredericksburg each year.

Kim Newlen

Kim is a devoted wife, mother, speaker, author, and volunteer who defines what it means to be a Hometown Hero. A former schoolteacher, Kim has hosted 30 to 70 women at her home every month for more than 18 years as part of Sweet Monday, a nonprofit designed to help women laugh and learn together while strengthening their faith. Kim is a breast cancer survivor and creator of Look Better Than You Feel (www.LookBetterThanYouFeel.com) – a post-surgical camisole. She also authored a new devotional book that will be published this summer by Tyndale Publishing.

Julia Norton and Wilma Upshur

For the past few years, Grace Covenant Child Development Center has experienced extreme financial struggles. Although the end appeared imminent, teachers Julia Norton and Wilma Upshur never gave up. When advised to begin looking for other employment, Julia and Wilma's response was: "Not while there is an infant in the Center that needs our care." They went above and beyond their assigned job duties at the non-profit day care center, which enrolls many at-risk and needy children, staying late and even taking infant laundry home to wash. The Center is now back on its feet, allowing Julia and Wilma to continue their important work with the children who mean so much to them.

Wayne Perry

A public servant since the age of 16, Wayne has dedicated his life to improving the emergency response system in the Fredericksburg community. He is a member of the Fredericksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad and has spent his career teaching EMTs, EMT-Is, and paramedics. He was a first responder at the Pentagon on 9/11 and has served as a volunteer police officer in Fredericksburg and a sheriff's deputy in the K-9 division in Spotsylvania. Wayne is also a pilot and currently the executive director of the Rappahannock EMS Council, working tirelessly to make it a progressive place of learning.

Terrell Pollard

Terrell began contributing to the community as an Eagle Scout and hasn't stopped since. He not only went on to become a Boy Scout leader, but while in college, also founded The Bridge CDC (http://www.bridgeamerica.org), an organization that provides ESL and GED classes throughout Greater Richmond. As a youth leader of Henrico Community Action Committee he was integral in the 2011 construction of a $16 million community center. Managing his family's business, Terrell also provides kids with summer jobs as part of an after-school program.

Travis Puffenbarger

Travis is the reason that at least three cardiac arrest patients are alive today. A dedicated paramedic, he successfully delivered advanced life support that sustained these patients until they were able to receive treatment at the hospital. Delivering exemplary pre-hospital care, Travis takes every call very seriously as well as his role in training others to become new EMS providers.

Karen Pusey

Karen is known in the community as a person who makes things happen. When she learned about the Miracle League, an organization providing children with disabilities an opportunity to play baseball, Karen quickly created a plan to find a location to build Richmond's First Miracle League field. She learned to write grants, began fundraising, and ultimately worked with Chesterfield County to donate land at the L.C. Bird Sports Complex. The field was completed and 18 special need children and a host of buddies were ready to play Miracle League baseball in the fall of 2007. In 2009, with additional fundraising, Karen raised the money to build Richmond's First Boundless playground at the facility. The League currently has over 90 players and an equal number of volunteers making the Miracle League of Richmond successful. Her latest project is to raise the money to build a handicap accessible restroom for the families at the facility.

Ann and Doug Rohrer

Acting swiftly, with no thought of their own risk, Ann and Doug helped a coworker who was being brutally attacked in the school parking lot. "I feel they were placed exactly where they were needed at the right time for this intervention," says their nominator. Ann and Doug say they only did what anyone else would have done in the situation, and that they were able only by God's help and grace. School coworkers, however, consider their actions special. This selfless couple touched and inspired everyone at the school and beyond.

Martha Rollins

For years, Martha Rollins, an antiques dealer in Highland Park, watched people of means come into her shop, while the people who lived behind her shop had virtually no means to improve themselves. Martha founded Boaz & Ruth (http://www.boazandruth.com) 10 years ago to connect the many segments of Richmond. Over the past decade, Boaz & Ruth, a nonprofit whose mission is to rebuild lives and communities through relationships, training, transitional jobs, and economic revitalization, has helped hundreds of people find jobs, decrease crime by 67 percent, and restored blighted areas in the Highland Park community. Martha has retired, but she remains a passionate advocate for her community.

Les Sinclair

Les is a doer and a problem solver. He believes small business is the backbone of our society, and as an entrepreneur spends his days helping others who see the liberty in self-employment. Proving that he can do two things well at once, Les also works as an on-air radio talent at Z95.1 where he helps non-profit organizations get the word out about cause related, community events. In fact, he not only helps promote a variety of local non-profits, he also spends his weekends attending fundraisers to serve as Master of Ceremonies or to simply lend a helping hand at events that support Jefferson Area Board for Aging, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad, Virginia Discovery Museum, and countless other local organizations. In addition, Les created a lighted vigil coinciding with Lung Cancer Awareness Month to honor people who have suffered from lung cancer. In Charlottesville, if people want something done – they go to Les Sinclair.

Tony Squire

Over the past 25 years, Tony has helped 400-plus at-risk young men in Richmond and throughout Virginia receive college scholarships through the sport of basketball. The Squires Boys Basketball Education Foundation, Inc. (www.squirebball.com), which he founded, has also increased opportunities for young men to develop teamwork, self-confidence, and self-esteem, through structured athletic activities. Tony is known for encouraging our youth to stay in school by stressing the link between class work and educational achievement.

Eric Sundberg

Eric Sundberg is known in the community as an innovator, leader, and mentor. He is the owner of Southern Electrics and a member of Virginia Council of CEOs. He is a dedicated volunteer working to reinvent afterschool programs with an emphasis on STEM programs for underprivileged children. This year he funded an afterschool STEM camp at the Longdale Elementary School highlighted in this video http://goo.gl/efVp4. He has also funded several projects with VirginiaFirst.org a robotics program designed to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders. Eric has set up http://www.RVAstem.org to help promote STEM education in Richmond.

Carmine Tavormina

Carmine knows everyone needs a helping hand at some point. Not only does this pillar of the community drive people to doctor's appointments and visit friends in the hospital, he also volunteers for his church, the Knights of Columbus, and the Special Olympics; transports retired veterans to their VA appointments in Richmond; and is just a great listener when anyone needs an ear.

Alma and William Taylor and Janet Green

Henry Tillery was placed in a foster home at age 7, but unfortunately it was a less-than-ideal situation. The young boy was lost and confused. His new social worker, Janet Green, promptly moved him to live with another family. The Taylors took Henry in as their son, loving and teaching him all the lessons of life, while his social worker continued to call and visit him. Through the good and the bad, the Taylors and Janet Green supported the child to adulthood. According to Henry, "The Taylors and Mrs. Green are the foundation of the man I've become and, to this day, they are my family, not just the foster system."

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Jayne Toellner

Jayne has been a dedicated volunteer with the Aquia Harbour Volunteer Rescue Squad since 1995, rising through the ranks from EMT Basic to Paramedic. Although she logs 40 to 120 hours in her three to 10 shifts a month, she is never too overworked to show every patient the care and compassion they deserve. She also goes the extra mile with her colleagues serving as a teacher, mentor, and friend.

Bruce Vecchioni

Bruce, a retired chief of the Enon Volunteer Fire Department, is known for creating a station of volunteers who are critical to Chesterfield's firefighting infrastructure. Bruce has received 13 unit citations for saving citizens' lives and four personal life saving awards: one fire and three EMS. Chesterfield County has granted multiple resolutions in his honor for outstanding performance. Bruce is also part of a car club that raises money to help children with disabilities and he is the recipient of the volunteer presidential award for logging in more than 2,000 hours of volunteerism in a single year. At 68 he still serves as a volunteer captain for the Enon Volunteer Fire Department.

Shelia Williams

Sheila is the leader of a dedicated group who is responsible for knitting and crocheting hats and scarves for the homeless, hats for infants in the hospital, and prayer shawls for the ill. "Many, many are blessed by her quiet labor of love," reports her admirers in the Charlottesville community.

Michael Wilson

With a dwindling number of volunteers and facing other obstacles, the Upper Lancaster Volunteer Rescue Squad was struggling to remain operational. Then Michael Wilson took over as captain, giving the squad a shot in the arm. He continuously encouraged the squad's volunteers to fulfill their potential and motivated many new members and upcoming EMTs to join the organization. Today the ULVRS is thriving with a full duty roster again and supporting the community.