On Friday, Nov. 9, the city hosted the Annual Neighborhoods ‘”Harvesting the Fruits” Potluck Dinner and Neighborhood Partnership Awards Celebration in Jefferson Center’s Fitzpatrick Hall. This annual event recognizes outstanding contributions and accomplishments achieved by neighborhood organizations and individuals. Roanoke City Council members and Arts Commission members presented trophies to the following recipients nominated in the following categories:
- The Neighborhood-City Partnership Award was presented to Jennifer Reeves, a supervisor in Solid Waste Management. Under her leadership, the massive Clean Sweep initiative in the Melrose-Rugby and Melrose-Loudon neighborhoods this July was a huge success. Jennifer worked tirelessly behind the scenes to organize the event, enlist the help of volunteers, and train her staff, resulting in a huge positive effect on the community.
- The Neighborhood Communications Award was presented to Mark Hostetter, the president of the Old Southwest neighborhood organization, Old Southwest, Inc. Mark consistently gives his time and enormous effort to keeping the neighborhood informed. From community meetings to newsletters to posters to emails, Mark single-handedly keeps hundreds of residents up-to-date on events, new businesses, and neighborhood issues.
- The Neighborhood-Community Partnership Award was presented to Sweet Donkey Coffee House in the South Roanoke neighborhood. Dustin Eschelman and Ann-Maree White’s coffee shop brings people together not only from South Roanoke, but from all over the city. Much more than coffee goes on at Sweet Donkey. This community hub hosts a farm stand, a weekly live music and food truck event, community information sessions, and more. It also gives back to the community by donating coffee and gift cards to nonprofit organizations all over Roanoke.
- The Neighborhood Outstanding Volunteer Leadership Award was presented to James Settle of the Wasena Neighborhood. James has given generously of his time to beautify the neighborhood, from tree planting to a new neighborhood logo to the development of the Wasena Bridge mural to improved sidewalks and landscaping. He has a huge effect on Wasena: He organizes the annual community-wide winter yard sale fundraiser, leads river clean-ups, and personally greets newcomers to the neighborhood with a personally designed welcome brochure.
- The Unsung Neighborhood Hero Award was presented to Natasha Harper. Natasha is passionate about helping the underprivileged, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the incarcerated of the community. She volunteers her time and resources to feed the hungry, she runs a food and clothing pantry, and she has started a nonprofit focused on human rights in the jail system. Natasha selflessly pours herself into every possible activity that benefits Roanoke’s most vulnerable citizens.
- The Neighborhood Improvement Award was presented to Sunni Purviance. Sunni has met challenges of the Southeast neighborhood head-on, beginning with boosting neighborhood pride through her “I Heart SE” initiative. From stickers to T-shirts to, finally, a full-fledged festival, Sunni has brought the neighborhood to life. She also helped organize Clean Valley Day, the winning “I Heart SE” Tug-a-Train team, and a neighborhood block party.
- The Neighborhood Youth Volunteer Award was presented to Trinity Breedlove, a 13-year-old student at John P. Fishwick Middle School in the Southeast neighborhood. Trinity is very active in her community, helping initiate the “Join the 74” campaign against teen drinking. She also spends her time volunteering with the RVSPCA and participating in projects like local food drives and fundraisers for hurricane victims.
- The All-Star Award was presented to James Settle. James is a pillar of the Wasena Neighborhood and has worked timelessly to improve the Main Street commercial area. These improvements include cross walk enhancements, sidewalk improvements, and the installation of public artwork. He continues to be dedicated to making the best of his neighborhood.
In addition to the award presentations, Roanoke City Council announced the selection of James Tarpley as the City of Roanoke’s 2018 Citizen of the Year.