Chesterfield celebrates the first Community Champions awards in person

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – Six different recipients received awards on Wednesday in recognition of their respective volunteer service and contributions to the Chesterfield community.

The Chesterfield Community Champion awards were distributed by the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors at their meeting on Wednesday April 27.

The program, run by the Department of Citizen Information and Resources, was established in 2020 to honor residents who volunteer their time and resources to bring about positive change in their communities. Due to the pandemic, this was the first year the board was able to celebrate community champions in person.

Here are the six categories and the corresponding winners:

Youth: Tanner Ridley-Smith volunteers as a junior historical interpreter at Henricus Historical Park. The park serves as a “living history museum” with colonial buildings and costumed actors. Thousands of annual visitors and students benefit from the programming offered by Henricus and Tanner plays a valuable role in it at only twelve years old.

teen: Andrea Farag regularly volunteers as a member of the Virginia 4-H organization. Her work has focused on empowering adolescents to create safe spaces to lead dialogue on several key social justice issues. Farag volunteers a minimum of 20 hours per month working with numerous local and state committees, in addition to an average of 500 hours per year at events such as Virginia 4-H State Cabinet, 4-H State Congress and Virginia 4-H Teen Summit.

Adult: Candy Cecil has been working with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to help residents of Yeshua’s House since 2016. Residents of Yeshua’s House are women and children recovering from abuse and in financial transition. Cecil also supports The Doorways, a non-profit organization that provides free room and food like home to family members who need to stay close to a loved one in a hospital in Richmond, and launched one of the first monthly lunch/meal programs there using volunteers from his church. Finally, Cecil sits on the board of Richmond Friends of the Homeless as secretary.

Left to right: Representatives of CARITAS Clothing Closet Crew, Representatives of New Life United Methodist Church, Tanner Ridley-Smith, Norman Robinson, Candy Cecil and Andrea Farag (Courtesy of Chesterfield County)

Senior: Norman Robinson volunteers as Master Gardener of Chesterfield. His efforts enabled people to undertake projects that connected master gardeners to volunteer opportunities and to each other. Robinson’s work has beautified the county and created an educational space where residents can all live, work and play.

Group: Crew of the CARITAS clothes closet; Stephanie Krupa, Nancy Malatesta and Mary Beth Modena dedicate their volunteer hours to helping participants in the CARITAS Works program. They help prepare men to enter the workforce with the proper attire that helps participants exude confidence. These three volunteers have selflessly dedicated over 10 years and over 1,050 hours each to preparing donated workwear – sizing, ironing and matching – for the men in the CARITAS Workforce Development Program.

Organization: New Life United Methodist Church has actively supported and delivered 14 senior home service projects from 2019-2021, providing labour, materials and support to disadvantaged seniors in Chesterfield. They actively seek out and assist seniors in need.

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