The Robert E. Wone Award is presented each year in coordination with the Virginia Volunteerism and Service Conference. The award has been presented since 2007, biographies of each winner are below.
2017- Sarahbeth Vernon, Virginia College Advising Corps, Charlottesville
Sarahbeth Vernon serves the Northern Neck communities of Richmond and Westmoreland counties by advising high school students to develop and enact their post-secondary plans. Although she grew up in Richmond, she had several family members who resided in Northern Neck and was excited about giving back to this community. As a college advisor, Sarabeth provides one-on-one admissions and financial aid advice to any student or family seeking assistance; organizes group workshops that encourage students and families to consider, plan for, and apply to colleges and universities; and orchestrates community events that create excitement around post-secondary opportunities in order to build a college-going culture. In the program’s first year in this region, she is the community’s inaugural college adviser and has exceeded all expectations in launching the program in two unique school environments. A large part of Sarabeth’s success was due in part to her work in leveraging collaborative relationships within the community. This has included developing an eighth grade mentorship program that connects students to local community leaders and prominent figures with similar backgrounds. Sarabeth’s tireless work ethic and tremendous compassion for her students has complemented the existing services in the county to help even more students attend colleges that will serve them well, academically and financially. She plans on continuing to serve students as a special education teacher. Sarabeth is an outstanding example of commitment to community by utilizing skills, passion, and heart to make an impact for generations to come.
2015- Teresa Thompson
During 2014/2015, Teresa served as a half-time member of the Reading for Life AmeriCorps program in Carroll County Public Schools tutoring at risk students in grades 6th -12th at the Regional Alternative Education Center, called the RAE Center. The RAE CENTER has the reputation of hard core students who do not do well at the traditional high school. They may be there due to discipline, failure to attend class, failure to pass required state tests, or needing to attend part days due to family obligations of having an infant to care for. Teresa was not content to go into the school just as a tutor. She saw numerous opportunities to encourage the students to rise above their behavior and attitude issues. She has recruited speaker to come into the school to talk to the students about employment opportunities in our area. She has also invited military recruiters to come to speak to the students who are nearing graduation to give them another option for their future. Teresa is an excellent mentor for these students. One teen who graduated in December, 2014 called Teresa for assistance to help him and his parents gather information about joining the service so that he could have structure in his life so he would not get into trouble just hanging out without a job after his graduation. This past summer, she was called upon by students to meet with them to help arrange job interviews. She arranges for them to know how to present themselves during the interview, how to complete the application, and arranges business attire for them to wear to the interview if that is a problem for them. Three of the students she helped this summer joined the military, and 4 were able to get jobs in the community. Teresa touches the lives of students and encourages them in a positive future.
2014- Daniel Lockey
Daniel Lockey served as a Foster Grandparent with the Hampton City Schools in Hampton, VA. Mr. Lockey served at the Performance Learning Center (PLC) working with young adults who are pursuing their GED. The PLC program is a credit recovery program for high schools students that have struggled in the traditional high school setting. For the past several years Mr. Lockey has fostered strong relationships with the young people and has worked closely with them, providing tutoring services, a listening year and priceless words of encouragement. He models leadership, professionalism, integrity and compassion. His life experiences have equipped him with the vast array of knowledge and wisdom that he shares with the young people he tutors. Mr. Lockey is very creative and utilizes many hands-on tools and skills to engage young people in learning. Mr. Lockey has left a lasting impression with Hampton City Schools at the PLC.
2013- Aaron Parlier
Mr. Aaron Parlier served with the AmeriCorps Interpretive Project at the DCR Division of State Parks. As a member of the Virginia State Parks AmeriCorps Interpretive Project, Aaron has made a significant impact on State Park visitors, their volunteer program and park resources. Through his programming efforts, the lives of nearly 2,500 visitors were enriched by engaging their emotions, enhancing their experience and deepening their understanding of people, places, events and objects from past and present. His efforts resulted in over 100 new volunteers finding meaningful service opportunities at Grayson Highlands State Park.Finally, Aaron’s personal passion for outdoor recreation resulted in a new 1.3 mile long trail being designed and created for the Park. It is the first bouldering and multi-use trail in Virginia. Aaron has left a lasting testament to volunteerism in VA State Parks, and a recreational opportunity that will last for many years to come.
2012- Rodney Walker
Mr. Rodney Walker served with the Virginia Veterans Corps AmeriCorps program. Working as a member of the Virginia Veterans Corps and partnering with the Community Services Board on the Eastern Shore, Rodney Walker directly improved the quality of life for many in this rural, underserved community who lacked access to the services they needed. As a Vietnam Combat Marine, Rodney is a veteran who has experienced living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and knows what it takes to get, and keep, one’s life on track. He has used his own experience to build rapport with the veterans he serves and has assisted other AmeriCorps members achieve an understanding of the unique challenges of working with any citizen that is battling PSTD. Two of his many accomplishments stand out: Rodney developed and implemented a reliable transportation system for veterans in need of medical treatment, and though his persistence, he has substantially increased veteran attendance at the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) workshops on the Eastern Shore where veterans learn about employment opportunities and veteran benefits. As Cathy Wilson, Executive Director of the Virginia Wounded Warriors Program, said in her letter supporting Rodney’s nomination, “Rodney puts service above self and is an exceptional leader that is making a difference.” His leadership and compassion have touched many lives on the Eastern Shore and beyond.
2011- Samuel Crawford
Mr. Samuel C. Crawford served with the Carroll County Public Schools Reading for Life AmeriCorps program. During the 2010-11 service year, Sam truly embraced his role as a tutor for K – 5th grade students at Oakland Elementary School. His impact had teachers and students alike already requesting Sam’s assistance for this school year. In 2008, Sam had a vision of an organization that could promote sustainability and a better way of life for members of his community, and with the support from local churches, businesses and the fire department, the Neighbor-2-Neighbor organization was founded. Sam is involved weekly in the Neighbor-2-Neighbor “Blessing in a Backpack” project for students in a nearby community who need extra food for the weekend to insure that they have enough to eat. Sam is a “volunteer magnet” and is always recruiting volunteers for projects. Last spring when the tornadoes hit Pulaski County and after all the big national volunteer groups had departed, Sam organized several groups of community volunteers to go to Pulaski to remove debris. Fallen trees in the neighborhood were cut into firewood and Sam made sure that the wood was delivered to families in need. Sam doesn’t just organize the volunteers, he works alongside them. An elderly Pulaski County recipient of Sam’s efforts, which included clearing debris and replacing the roof of her house called “Mr. Sam” one of the communities’ “greatest assets.” Like Robert Wone, Sam exemplifies a citizen who is willing to serve to help make life better for others – his neighbor is not just across the street or down the road – it could be someone 300 miles away if Sam thought they needed help. Sam has distinguished himself and has excelled in the characteristics of heart, mind, and helpfulness to others. His leadership and compassion has touched many lives in the Carroll County area and beyond.
2010- Charles Fitzgerald
Mr. Charles Fitzgerald served with the Embrace Richmond – Community Works AmeriCorps program. Mr. Fitzgerald was an invaluable member of the Embrace Richmond team. Prior to entering his term of service, he had not worked in more than 25 years due to 33 years of drug addiction for which he sought and received treatment and assistance from The Healing Place in Richmond. While serving as a peer mentor at the Healing Place, Charles realized that he had a gift for helping other addicts find freedom from addiction. He has since completed his certificate in substance abuse counseling and is working on his bachelor’s degree in Human Services. During his first year of service as an AmeriCorps member, he led a team of volunteers from The Healing Place in providing furnishing for formerly homeless individuals through the Furniture Bank program. During his second year of service, Charles was instrumental in helping to launch an aftercare team for homeless men and served as a mentor to these men and helped them successfully transition out of homelessness. In addition, he started a recovery house for men in Highland Park with the help of Embrace Richmond. Because of his own history, Charles is able to earn trust and respect from those seeking recovery from addiction. Charles is a tireless advocate and volunteer who actively advances the interests of many charitable organizations through his willingness to speak and share his story on behalf of all the agencies that touched his life. Charles has distinguished himself and has excelled in the characteristics of heart, mind, and helpfulness to others.
2009- Candace Nunnally
Ms. Candice Nunnally served with the AmeriCorps / America Reads Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Ms. Nunnally’s passion has touched many lives at Greene Elementary School in Richmond where she served as a reading coach and classroom assistant. She has a long history of service with Hands On Greater Richmond as a Team Leader since June 2007. As a Team Leader, Candice has lead groups to contribute over 500 volunteer hours to impact over 3,000 individuals on such diverse projects as working with children at a homeless shelter, serving meals to low income individuals at the local food bank and leading activities at a community fair. Her leadership and compassion has touched many lives in the Richmond area beyond.
2008- Anthony Simpson
Mr. Anthony Simpson served with the AmeriCorps / America Reads Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Mr. Simpson’s leadership and compassion has touched many lives at Woodville Elementary School in one of Richmond’s lowest income neighborhoods. Anthony Simpson’s desire to improve his community is rooted in his commitment to improving the lives of children in the City of Richmond. While attending Virginia Union University, he majored in Special Education, a decision he made from his own experiences as a person with a physical disability. Despite being bound to a motorized scooter, Anthony strives to improve the lives of others with disabilities through community education and awareness. As a member of the VCU AmeriCorps Program, Anthony was able to accomplish his dream of teaching children. Anthony used the students’ inquisitiveness about his disability and short stature as an opportunity to teach tolerance and open-mindedness by demonstrating his many capabilities, like driving, attending college and teaching. Throughout the year, Anthony participated in every service project, including adopt-a-street and community clean-up, never citing his disability as a hindrance to getting the job done. At the AmeriCorps End of the Year Celebration, all of his team expressed how meaningful their experience had been as a result of having served alongside Anthony. His team leader at Woodville had this to say: “The chance to give Anthony the easy way out was never there. Just going through the day, he showed the students that having physical limitations does not limit a person’s personality and the positive things one can accomplish.”
2007- Cheryl Jennings
Cheryl Jennings’ served with the AmeriCorps/America Reads Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Ms. Jennings’ exemplary effort during her service year not only contributed to the AmeriCorps program but affected team members, students, and school staff around Richmond City. Her dedication is infectious and served as an example for the members of her team as well as individuals throughout the program. Not only did she have an immaculate attendance record but she constantly stays late and volunteers her time for anyone in need. She worked with the Woodville Elementary PTA as well as helped developed numerous events for the school. The students at her school excelled in their education in addition to emotional development. Her team members have also been affected by her leadership. Cheryl’s commitment to service did not end at Woodville. She was a member of all of our programs service event committees, and has served as a member of the VCU recruitment team for two years. She also led multiple site clean-ups at VCU AmeriCorps Adopt-A-Street location. And, in spite of taking classes at Virginia Commonwealth University pursuing her degree in Social Work, Cheryl was able to assist one of her team members (who is without a mother and father) in applying and being accepted as a first generation college student to Virginia State University. She also helped this member move in and get settled into his college experience. This kind of commitment to her team members exemplifies Cheryl’s commitment to our program. The VCU AmeriCorps program was fortunate enough to work with her for a second term as team leader and will become a better program because of it.