Hometown Heroes 2016

Hometown Heroes 2016

During April and May, the Firm received hundreds of nominations highlighting inspiring citizens from across the Commonwealth. After careful consideration, we’ve selected thirty-five 2016 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 events in Richmond and Charlottesville.

Nathalia Artus

Nathalia volunteers her time and service with various organizations within the City of Richmond. She is involved with Dress for Success, which assists people in need by providing appropriate attire for those searching for jobs. She is also engaged in community projects to benefit the elderly. Her nominator says that Nathalia's acts of kindness are never about self, but always about others.

Shawna Banks

Shawna Banks revitalized a vibrant community basketball culture in Charlottesville as co-founder of the Banks Collage Basketball Association. This organization has made it possible for local players to play pro basketball overseas or in college, due to the display of videos on a website Shawna designed and maintains. Shawna is a role model to young girls through a related dance program she started that provides opportunities to participate in competitions. Her work also includes charitable donations of school supplies to those in need.

Dawn Beninghove

Dawn Beninghove, a registered nurse, started the home health care services company, Companion Extraordinaire, in 2003, and has since made a difference in the quality of life for countless seniors, especially those needing dementia care. Dawn has also created an effective training program for personal care aides and certified nursing assistants, improving the longevity of care-giving staff and decreasing turnover. Dawn is committed to the success and enrichment of others.

Bubby Bish

Bubby Bish has taken an active role in improving the Emergency Medical Services system throughout Virginia. He has been with the Southside Virginia Emergency Crew for 49 years. He served at the Pentagon during 9/11 and teaches emergency vehicle operators classes and First Aid/CPR as a volunteer. He is the current Chairman of the Colonial Heights Local Emergency Planning Commission and was inducted into the Virginia Life Saving and Rescue Hall of Fame. Bubby loves serving his peers and providing care to those who are sick or injured.

Robert Bishop

Wayside Barber Shop in Charlottesville is an old-fashioned hair cuttery where Robert "Bobby" Bishop has worked for 56 years. Bobby loves what he does and has a generous heart. He has given countless free haircuts to men and women in need and then treats them to free sodas from the machine outside of his shop. Wayside has been the go-to place for great haircuts and unbeatable conversation for generations. Bobby loves the smiles of happy customers and says it's all about giving back.

John Burruss

John Burruss has served as a member of the Charlottesville Fire Department for 36 years and was a volunteer member of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad for over 30 years. He has trained thousands of firefighters and EMTs and has the distinction of having brought eight babies into the world. Every year John volunteers to work Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays so that his colleagues can be at home with their families. Through his years of selfless service and dedication, John has helped an immeasurable number of people.

Julie and Chris Carden

As the founders of Grace Home Ministries, a residential maternity home that shepherds young women through the challenges of an unplanned teen pregnancy, Julie and Chris Carden help provide critical support during a sometimes challenging time. GHM assists with education, medical care, professional counseling, spiritual enrichment, and recreational activities. They nurture their residents and work diligently to help meet each individual's needs.

Tom Connaughton

Mr. C, as Tom Connaughton is affectionately called, is an ESL teacher at Greenbrier Elementary School. Besides teaching English to students with different primary languages, Mr. C is very involved with the vast and varied population of immigrant students and families. He makes sure the kids get help with their homework. He is the originator of the "Running Club" and he is also a strong supporter of kids learning to swim. Mr. C helps families understand their new world and how to function in it.

Judson Cotterman, III

A veteran firefighter in Hanover County, Judson Cotterman, III, is a skilled paramedic and emergency responder. Judson supports the 9/11 "Memorial Stair Climb" fundraiser that aids survivors and families of fallen firefighters. He fosters dogs awaiting their forever homes and volunteers at a local rescue organization – last year he led a program to build dog houses to protect outdoor dogs during the winter. His giving spirit leads him to support other charitable causes to benefit the Children's Hospital Foundation and the Wounded Warriors Project. Judson is a true goodwill ambassador.

Sherri Ferraro

A registered nurse who works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the UVA Medical Center, Sherri Ferraro is an advocate for her premature patients and their parents. Sherri consistently goes above and beyond her duties to provide exceptional care and the families are deeply grateful for the support she provides. Sherri is a breast cancer survivor and raises money and awareness for this disease. She is known as a professional caregiver who puts others above herself.

Grace Gallagher

Grace Gallagher has built a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the face of teenage mental illness in memory of her daughter - The Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation. The Foundation works to cultivate awareness and understanding of teenage depression and anxiety. Grace devotes countless hours to advocacy and also leads the annual SpeakUp5k race, which was inspired by Cameron. Grace is dedicated to helping teens who cannot or do not speak up for themselves.

Louise Gallagher

Retiree Louise Gallagher works to help young people find their place in the world. She tutors students in math and guides many young people in applying for college, helping them find the school that is just the right fit. Louise has opened her home to many young adults who needed a safe and positive environment, helping them to get their feet on the ground and their lives back in order. Louise is a "mother hen" known for her kind, generous, and positive nature.

Tee Hanible

The Few. The Proud. The Marines. Tee Hanible is all of that and more. Since recently retiring from the Marine Corps after 19 years, including being deployed to Iraq in 2003 as the only female in her unit, she has worked on the Marine Corps Diversity Initiative to enlist more females. She started Operation Heroes Connect while still on active duty, which links at-risk youth to service members and veterans, who serve as mentors. Tee has led many initiatives that benefit youth and females and has received well-deserved recognition, including a feature in a Newsweek article by Gail Sheehy.

Cody Jackson

As a four-year-old, Cody Jackson learned about 9/11 from his mother while standing in a long and slow airport security line. Since hearing the story of the terrible events of that day, Cody has made it his life mission to thank American soldiers for protecting us. He has shaken over 30,000 military hands and shipped over 13,000 pounds of care packages to deployed troops all over the world. Now 13, Cody has written two children's books about the importance of patriotism and supporting our troops, and has become quite the media celebrity.

Ann Kutz

Ann Kutz is a tireless and impassioned advocate and mentor for kids of all ages who have an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. She is a Senior Mentor for the 2016 World Champion FIRST Robotics Team 1086 Blue Cheese. She pushes kids out of their comfort zones and encourages them to experience all the program has to offer. Ann has also been a leader in the central Virginia region's FIRST Lego League, including volunteering as a teacher at summer camps and helping parents and coaches who want to start a team.

Heidi Lohr

Heidi Lohr is a passionate advocate for children in need. She is a well- respected primary school teacher. She singlehandedly started a pre-kindergarten "Head Start" program, has helped link families with needed services, and has kept homeless children in school. Now Director of Special Education for Madison County Public Schools, Heidi meets the needs of children with disabilities, while still finding time to coach the Madison County High School varsity cheerleading team, where she is a former cheerleader.

Susan Lozano

At Fairhunt Farm, Susan Lozano is making a difference in the lives of people in need and with disabilities, through horses and nature. Susan gives of herself and her farm so others can gain confidence, trust, and unconditional love, regardless of their ability to pay, riding ability, or disability. The non-profit programs at the farm are based on the positive correlation between equine therapy, and social and physical development. Susan makes sure each participant has a joyful, memorable, and safe experience.

Frank J. Matthews

Frank Matthews is a Marine Corps veteran of WWII, and the only member of his platoon to survive Iwo Jima. At 18, he carried an 85-pound flame thrower on his slight frame, and was awarded the Bronze Star and other medals. He has been a volunteer docent at the National Museum of the Marine Corps for the last decade and, at the age of 90, still drives himself to work. Last year, a book was published about Frank's life and the war, called "You Don't Know Jack." Although he is the recipient of many honors and awards, Frank says he was always "just doing his duty."

Kari Miller

“International Neighbors” is a refugee assistance organization founded by Kari Miller in November 2015. Kari got her start helping refugee students in Charlottesville City Schools where she was a teacher. “International Neighbors” provides refugees and immigrants with support services and opportunities that will foster a path to self-sufficiency and productive citizenship. Kari and other volunteers take people to dentist and doctor appointments, help them find clothing, and help them adjust to life in America, including bridging language differences.

Walter Murphy

Instead of heading home after a long day at his dental office, Dr. Walter Murphy often goes to the Goochland Free Clinic to treat patients who otherwise would not have access to dental care. Through his efforts, hundreds of low-income patients have access to needed care at the Clinic and at his office, where Dr. Murphy participates in the "Donated Dental" program of the Virginia Dental Association. He has also donated dental equipment to the Clinic and recruits fellow dentists to volunteer. His clients say he is patient and kind.

Timmy Nguyen

Timmy Nguyen is a devoted VCU alum, serving the school in countless volunteer capacities. He is a mentor at Chimborazo Elementary School and a volunteer for the Friends Association for Children. He may be best known for creating the "Alumni Charity Challenge" food drive across many colleges and universities, which raised 12,000 pounds of canned goods that benefited 31 counties and five cities. Timmy is regarded as a selfless leader who enjoys bringing people together as families, neighbors, and communities.

Stacey Norris

Without a doubt, Stacey Norris is a dog's best friend. Stacey is a persistent force in the world of improving the lives of dogs living outdoors. Stacey started the HOWS Project to provide shelters to dogs that live outdoors as part of the Voices for Animals non-profit. This organization has provided over 500 dog houses in Albemarle and surrounding counties since 2008. Medical assistance, food bowls, water buckets and other supplies are also provided. Stacey works tirelessly to help animals in life or death situations and has led significant improvements in animal welfare.

Edward Peeples

Edward Peeples is a humble man who devoted much of his youth to fighting for social and racial justice. Throughout his career, he has made important contributions to medical behavioral science, public health, epidemiology, and sociology, and currently is Emeritus Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at VCU. He is also recognized as one of the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights movement in Virginia and authored the book "Scalawag". He loves VCU basketball and was co-captain of the first winning team when VCU was Richmond Professional Institute.

Nick Peterson

As senior class president and an athlete, Nick Peterson applied his leadership skills to helping ESOL students at Chancellor High School to learn English. Nick, who took Advanced Placement Spanish classes, volunteered during his study hall and lunch periods to help other students with their assignments and translate lessons. Working with Jordan Rasure, another AP Spanish student, Nick led meetings with faculty and the School Board to discuss how the ESOL volunteer program could continue to grow after their graduation in June 2016.

Jordan Rasure

As a senior at Chancellor High School and an AP Spanish student, Jordan Rasure worked closely with fellow student Nick Peterson to help ESOL students realize their full potential. Like Nick, she gave up her study hall, lunch periods and other breaks to help the ESOL students understand their lessons. Her focus was about making sure these students became confident in their understanding of the English language and didn't simply translate the words. Jordan will continue her work this summer by serving as a volunteer tutor through a local church.

Susan Seay

Susan Seay is a selfless and giving person who is always by the side of her friend who is battling an aggressive form of breast cancer. From accompanying her friend on costly trips to Arizona for treatment, to going to her home in the middle of the night to comfort her when she is not feeling well, Susan shows constant care and compassion. Susan also volunteers to help adopted individuals find their biological families. Like most givers, Susan always has a smile on her face.

Tom David Siebert

Tom David Siebert provides compassionate care to our region's sickest children and their families as the Staff Chaplain at the Hematology-Oncology Division at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Tom David offers clinical support to patients affected by cancer, sickle cell, and other blood diseases, taking the time to get to know each one personally. He also works with the Adult Survivor's Group and Kid's overnight camps, participates in special events, and offers ongoing bereavement care to families suffering from the loss of a child.

Dr. Wally Smith

Dr. Wally Smith is leading the fight against Sickle Cell Disease in Virginia, improving care and creating awareness. As a VCU researcher and clinical provider, he cares for Sickle Cell Disease patients around Virginia, while also providing education and mentorship to our next generation of physicians and researchers. Dr. Smith is known for his kindness and tireless dedication to improving the lives of others, and helping to alleviate the pain and fear of those suffering with Sickle Cell, a disease he says has historically been under-researched, underfunded, and undertreated.

James Spurlock, Jr.

A 26-year law enforcement professional, James Spurlock always goes above and beyond the call of duty. He has volunteered with fire and rescue services for 27 years. James shares his expertise as an instructor for many types of police, fire, and rescue classes. He serves as a hostage/crisis negotiator, search/rescue and dive team medic, and SWAT team operator and medic. He is a devoted father and husband, caring for an ailing wife and two young sons, both of whom face medical challenges. James demonstrates a model work and personal ethic.

Beth Ayn Stansfield

A long-time educator in Chesterfield County, Beth Ayn Stansfield found her calling when she began helping those affected by eating disorders connect to needed support and resources. In 2013, she established Stay Strong Richmond, which provides free support programs. She created the "Virginia's Eating Disorder Resource" website, raising awareness and providing assistance and resources so that our community can better support youth and young adults struggling with an eating disorder.

Celia Tetlow

At a young age, Celia Tetlow has already made a lasting impact on the lives of children with cancer. As a Board member of Connor's Heroes, which provides support for children undergoing cancer treatment and their families, Celia is an energetic fundraiser and research advocate. She created a young professionals support group that spearheads art days with local artists for the children, nights out for the parents, and the annual Heroes Art Ball fundraiser.

Gary Weiner

For more than 20 years, Gary Weiner has been the leader of a shoe drive, in connection with The Salvation Army, that has provided more than 100,000 pairs of shoes for the homeless and others in need. Supported by his daughter, Amanda, and other employees at Saxon Shoes, Gary helps package and distribute shoes. Gary and Saxon Shoes also provide donated shoes through YMCA Bright Beginnings and the New Shoes for Back to School Ministry programs. Gary and his team donate their personal time to help fit hundreds of children with new shoes.

Teresa Williams

Teresa Williams is constantly working to raise awareness and support for her daughter's disease, Neurofibromatosis (NF). Teresa spoke to a local Rotary Club as part of her tireless efforts, sparking a great, new relationship. The Rotarians held a fundraiser for her daughter with proceeds going to a foundation for NF. Teresa now regularly attends Rotary fundraisers to provide support.

Shirley Workman

Shirley Workman is passionate about the care and comfort of her local senior citizen population. As the proprietor of Countryside Nursing Home, Shirley's mission is to keep low income seniors in their hometown near the Blue Ridge Mountains. She co-chairs "Aging Together," which educates seniors on safety and well-being. She helps seniors and disabled persons with home repairs. She has a heart to serve and the ability to put plans into actions. Shirley is making a huge difference for so many in her community.