Hometown Heroes 2022

Hometown Heroes

After careful consideration, these 20 nominees were chosen to be the 2022 Allen & Allen Hometown Heroes because of their commitment to making a difference during these unprecedented times.

Our 2022 Heroes

Ann Kloeckner

Ann Kloeckner works at Legal Aid Works in Fredericksburg, advocating for those without resources for legal representation.

Kloeckner has always been devoted to public service. Early in her career, she advocated on behalf of victims of domestic violence. She mentors new attorneys and holds public speaking engagements throughout Virginia on issues of justice. In 2016, she was appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court to serve a three-year term as a member of a professionalism course, which is mandatory for newly-licensed attorneys in Virginia.

Her dedication to seeking justice is admirable.

Website: www.legalaidworks.org/fredericksburg/

Brian Bell

Brian Bell founded Keep Virginia Cozy, a community clean-up foundation that has removed over 80,000 pounds of litter from Richmond and the James River. Combining the need for community, kindness, and a cleaner environment, education is part of his mission. He has worked with different groups of people with disabilities, public schools, and private schools to educate the next generation on topics such as bee pollination, litter removal, recycling, and responsible stewardship of our environment.

Keep Virginia Cozy has a simple mission statement: “Be kind. Pick up litter. Smile at strangers. Keep Virginia cozy. “

Website: www.keepvirginiacozy.org

Caroline Neal

Caroline Neal founded Worthdays 6 years ago, creating birthday celebrations for children in foster care. Driven by a passion to let these children know that they are worthy of love and celebration, Worthdays also helps to establish a sense of normalcy within foster care. Providing luggage in lieu of trash bags when moving to and from foster homes is important, as is working to keep children involved in sports and activities.

She also works with those who have aged out of the system. Working as a compass, she helps to get them established for adulthood. Whether it's transportation to and from employment or helping them stock their dorm rooms, Neal wishes to ensure that their futures are off to a great start.

Website: www.worthdays.org

Chris Snyder

Christopher Snyder has dedicated his life to service. He is Chief of Administrative Services for Chesterfield 9-1-1, volunteers as Chief of Operations for the Manchester Fire and Rescue Squad, and serves on the Chesterfield County EMS Advisory Council. He has coordinated and facilitated training and has helped to foster positive working relationships between the career staff of Chesterfield County Fire and EMS and the members of Manchester Volunteer Rescue Squad.

Chris is currently serving as Chair of the Chesterfield County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council, which is comprised of multiple stakeholders from both the career, volunteer, and private business communities.

In 2021, Chris won the Old Dominion Emergency Medical Service Alliance, for Outstanding EMS Leadership. He has dedicated his life to service.

Donald Barrow

Donald Barrow is a trailblazer for public health, promoting wellness equality for communities with fewer resources. Through Optima Health, his community outreach has helped to form youth sports leagues, connect citizens to COVID vaccines, meal delivery programs, and much more.

Donald has not allowed retirement to slow him down. He created Community Transformers, LLC. This agency specializes in Medicare, retirement, and prescription drug plans. The agency is committed to ensuring that the elderly, disabled, rural communities and underserved populations have access to quality health care.

"He doesn’t just wait for others to help out. Instead, he creates opportunities and programs for the community at large. He is a trailblazer and an amazing person," his nominator writes.

Eric Barnes

Eric Barnes runs The Equipment Connection in Fredericksburg, which helps to connect people with disabilities to equipment that assists them to live more independently. Now in a partnership with the Disability Resource Center, they are able to supply much-needed medical equipment to those who may not have the means to better treat their injuries or disabilities.

In a nod to sustainability, Eric cleans and repairs the donated equipment that would otherwise end up in landfills. "Eric is a blessing to the community and will do anything in his power to help someone in need. His booming voice and positive attitude are infectious. He is a powerful resource to so many people during times of crisis," his nominator writes.

Website: www.cildrc.org/equipment-connection/

Himani Daanya Saraff

Himani Daanya Saraff has been giving back since the age of 5. She created and sold slime and bookmarks in order to fundraise for Ellie’s Hats, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting childhood cancer. Since 2014, she has been distributing Christmas gifts to children at the Katherine Hanley Family Shelter.

She distributed over 1,000 pounds of food to local food pantries, and with her Girl Scouts team, created over 110 care packages for teachers last spring. Himani has raised money so that first responders could have face shields at the height of the pandemic. She has raised over $2,000 in aid for Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles airport, providing clothing and basic supplies. With her Sweets for All campaign, she distributed over 400 pounds of sweets and candy to fire stations, shelters, and the homeless population.

Her message to the world is, "Use your wings of kindness to fly high in peoples' hearts."

JoAnne McTague

JoAnne McTague founded the Charlottesville-based Yellow Door Foundation, which provides free, long-term lodging to families with pediatric patients either undergoing treatment for cancer or transplant surgery. With almost 5,000 free nights of lodging provided over the past 5 years, JoAnne and Yellow Door have provided a comfortable place to stay for the over 50% of families who cannot afford long-term lodging in Charlottesville during extended pediatric treatment.

"JoAnne is a tireless and compassionate supporter of families when they are facing life-threatening pediatric illness," says her nominator.

Website: www.yellowdoorfoundation.org

Kim Maxey

Kim Maxey has taken her love of animals on the road, bringing her two golden retrievers to local hospitals to cheer up those who need it most.

Partnering with VCU’s Dogs on Call, Caring Canines, and Bon Secours’ Community Hospice House, she and her pets keep patients smiling. Her therapy dog team (Clifford and Rudee) volunteer at numerous health care facilities, including VCU's Massey Cancer Center, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, as well as at Chesterfield County Jail. They provide comfort, love, and a distraction from the struggles that the people in these facilities are experiencing.

Kimberly Fontaine

Kimberly Fontaine is the director of the Alliance for Interfaith Ministries in Charlottesville. She finds lodging for the homeless, provides donated furniture, and works as a food bank volunteer.

Through her hard work, the Alliance for Interfaith Ministries has expanded its reach, partnering with People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry (PACEM) to find housing for homeless people over the age of 55. She has become a strong advocate for affordable housing in Charlottesville and beyond.

Website: www.aimcville.org

Madlin Edmonds

Madlin Edmonds founded Neighbors in Need, which works to help the homeless population find affordable housing. Some people she has helped to re-house were living in the woods of Prince William County.

When she is not working with Neighbors in Need, she can be found promoting voter registration and conducting polls. She's also always on the lookout for resources and donations for holiday drives, to ensure that no family is left behind.

"She has done all of these acts of kindness quietly, behind the scenes, and looking for no praise. I don’t know of anyone more deserving of this recognition than my “shero” Madlin Edmonds!" says her nominator.

Website: www.helpingneighborspwc.org/

Maria Beall

Maria Beall dedicates her birthday month to a different charity every year and has done so since May of 1983. She has raised funds for kids with cancer, the Richmond Animal League, and Housing Families First, which finds housing for victims of domestic violence. She has raised close to $10,000 dollars by hosting yoga classes and silent auctions.

As President of Manchester Alliance, Maria focuses on crime reduction and trash clean-ups. She and her team hold monthly clean-ups, where they pick up an average of 20,000 pieces of garbage around Richmond. Maria strives to keep the James River healthy. Her new goals for Manchester include installing pedestrian crosswalks and creating green spaces so that families can benefit from outdoor living.

Website: www.manchesteralliance1.wixsite.com/manchesteralliance

Melissa Morgan

Melissa Morgan founded A Place of Miracles Cafe (APOMC), which provides food for families and elderly people living in motels, and lacking transportation in Chesterfield. They also help to feed a local homeless camp. Using a sustainable model, she receives surplus from several Chesterfield-area restaurants and a food bank to serve those in need.

APOMC runs a free clothing cottage, distributes school supplies to children in underserved communities, and partners with local churches to prepare and deliver hot Thanksgiving meals to families. On Christmas, they deliver presents. Melissa spends countless hours and unlimited energy helping people who need it the most.

Website: www.apomcafe.com/

Phyllis Mills

Phyllis Mills is being honored for her heroic selflessness. On April 10, 2022, she awoke to find her home on fire. She first woke up her husband, then rescued her sister, who was on oxygen and awaiting a lung transplant.

She ran back inside the home to retrieve her dogs but was unable to make it back out. May she rest in peace.

Rhonda Oliver

Rhonda Oliver is committed to making a better life for those in need in Greene County. As Director of Feeding Greene, she runs the food pantry, has expanded the home delivery program, and created the Back Pack Buddies initiative for school children, providing food to students who depend on school for their main source of nutrition.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she got creative when implementing programs to ensure that no one went hungry in Greene County. "The organization has grown by leaps and bounds under Rhonda's leadership and she is the most dedicated person I know. She loves people and wants to make a difference in their lives," says her nominator.

Website: www.feedinggreeneinc.org/

Roger Reynolds

Roger Reynolds formed CJ’s Thumb Up Foundation, following the loss of his daughter. To combat the stress that families experience when they have a sick child in the hospital, he has been providing meals to families from Richmond to Charlottesville.

The foundation also provides emergency financial assistance to families during this difficult time in their lives. For over ten years, Reynolds has strived to put a smile on the face of families devastated by a childhood illness. He raises money by hosting events such as a Music Fest, virtual challenges, and selling merchandise on the foundation's site.

"Roger is the face we need in our lives when we didn't even realize we needed it," says his nominator.

Website: www.cjstuf.org/

Sarah Steely

Sarah Steely is the director of No Kid Hungry Virginia. She has placed $4 million in grant money toward feeding underserved students and advocating for healthier school meals. During the pandemic, she held multiple Zoom interviews with TV stations to discuss the hunger issue, as families experienced unprecedented job losses. She has written numerous opinion editorials on how leaders in Congress can help address hunger.

"Sarah exemplifies the common characteristics you’d expect to find in a great leader. However, what sets her apart is her deeply empathetic nature and her passion for serving others. Even in the face of immense challenges, she always finds opportunities to uplift those around her and brings diverse voices to the table," says her nominator.

Website: www.state.nokidhungry.org/virginia/

Tamara Elmore

Tamara Elmore has a passion for gardening, and for 15 years has shared her joy and produce with neighbors in Highland Park, widely considered a food desert.

Tamara has helped to start a community garden, which provides fresh produce to the people in the community. Today she engages with over 11,000 Instagram followers to answer gardening questions and promote healthy eating. She is making gardening and smart food choices more approachable for communities lacking green space and nearby grocery stores.

Follow her on Instagram @taminthegarden

Tim Sutton

Tim Sutton is a law enforcement veteran working with the Sherriff’s office to foster better communication between law enforcement and civilians. Specifically, civilians who have cognitive disorders.

His company, A Better Understanding works with hundreds of families dealing with autism, intellectual disabilities, dementia, and more. The focus of this nonprofit is to raise awareness in our communities. By educating law enforcement, first responders, and businesses on how to identify, safely approach, and successfully interact with these individuals, he is fostering a smarter and more understanding community. These individuals are seeking the same things as everyone else; acknowledgment, acceptance, and inclusion just like their peers.

Website: www.a-betterunderstanding.com/

Wade Kennedy

Wade Kennedy is skilled at organizing golf tournaments and special events to bolster the community. Whether raising money for Kids Kicking Cancer, GoochlandCares, the Parkinson’s Foundation or the Tyler Wentz Memorial Fund, his natural leadership and drive to give back is unmatched. He has also raised money for medical research, substance abuse prevention, health care for the uninsured, and youth athletic programs.

Wade has touched the lives of so many while donating his time and talent to give back to his community. "Wade’s expertise and enthusiasm multiply the compassion and generosity of others. He shares his time and talent abundantly to make the Richmond region a better place for all," says his nominator.

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