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NeighborWorks America Announces the 2012 Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award Honorees

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today NeighborWorks® America announced the recipients of the 2012 Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award, and celebrated 20 years of leaders at the corporation's fifth annual national Community Leadership Institute held this year in Orlando, FL. Regional Community Leadership Institutes have been held since 1995, and more than 12,000 residents have received important training that they've taken back to their communities to effect positive and lasting change. The Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award honors seven community leaders from around the country for their outstanding contributions to their communities. Through years of community building, activism and service to their neighbors, these individuals have made a difference in the lives of many.

Each year, NeighborWorks America recognizes one individual from each of its operating districts with the Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award. This award acknowledges outstanding individuals for their achievement in the field of affordable housing and community-based development, as resident leaders whose energy, commitment and concern for their communities are vital to the success of the NeighborWorks system locally and nationally.

"This year's honorees have demonstrated a remarkable and enduring commitment to improving the communities where they live," said Eileen Fitzgerald, CEO of NeighborWorks America. "Through their tremendous efforts, the honorees have helped to transform and enrich their communities, creating lasting benefits for countless residents. We are proud to honor them for their generous service to others."

The 2012 Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award recipients are:

Alice Goggins – Affordable Housing Alliance of Eatontown, New Jersey

Alice Goggins, nominated by Affordable Housing Alliance, a NeighborWorks organization, based in Eatontown, NJ, led an effort to retain affordability of the apartment complex she lived in for 40 years. When Ms. Goggins heard that the owners of her home in the Grandview Apartment Complex planned to sell the development, she used her experience and relationships as a volunteer in her community. She formed an ad hoc tenants' association that persuaded the owners to sell the property to a nonprofit agency resulting in a strong, sustained community at Grandview.  Throughout, Goggins has been a motivator and a leader in the growth and expansion of this vibrant community. She has affected the lives of generations of residents and inspired countless individuals to actively participate in their communities and to stand up for what they believe.  

Georgia Burrell
– Resources for Residents and Communities, Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia Burrell, nominated by Resources for Residents and Communities of Georgia (RRC), based in Atlanta, is known affectionately as the unofficial "Mayor" of Reynoldstown, a community in east Atlanta where she has lived for more than 52 years.  Through her 20-year service on the Board of the Reynoldstown Civic Improvement League, she worked tirelessly to bring public transportation options to her neighborhood.  Burrell also played a critical role in preserving the Lang Carson Community Center, which has served as NeighborWorks America affiliate RRC's headquarters for more than 23 years.   And, she helped register hundreds of voters.  When asked what inspired her work Burrell said: "I really enjoy volunteering and being around people. I grew up in this community and it offered me so much as a child, and now there are a lot of senior citizens and young people that need my help. I had those role models in my life and I want to be that inspiration for others."

Herb Matlock – Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Hugo, Oklahoma

Herb Matlock, nominated by Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Hugo, OK, has been active in community and public service for more than 65 years. After working in the military and the Federal Aviation Administration, Herb returned to his hometown and focused on local efforts. Knowing that his town would never be able to attract investment and grow without a public sewer system, he ran for public office, won, and eventually worked with Oklahoma's governor to bring sewer and water upgrades to the community.  Since then, the town's population has doubled. Matlock's passion for helping others is chronicled in his book, "Turning the Lights on in Southeast Oklahoma," which won a national prize for history in 2011.  Matlock's advice for others interested in community engagement is, "Make sure you do it from your heart, make sure you are committed and are doing it because you have a passion to help people."

Robert Fontaine – Homeport in Columbus, Ohio

Bob Fontaine, nominated by Homeport, Columbus, OH, is former Cleveland Ohio Man of the Year. He says, "I can't be in any community unless I'm active; there is a need everywhere."  He has been especially motivated to work with the young people of the community whom he recognizes as the future leaders.  He formed an active Teen Council and also became president of the Pheasant Run Resident Council in Columbus, Ohio.  Fontaine's latest project with young people is to start a basketball league.  Using his infectious enthusiasm he has persuaded a former professional basketball player to work with him.  They are now signing up dozens of boys and girls to take part in the league.  Fontaine says, "Young people WANT to latch onto something, so we need to give them something positive to latch onto.  We can be a role model for them and let them know they can be successful."

Rosa Peñaflor – Community Housing Works of San Diego, California

Six years ago, Rosa Peñaflor volunteered with the Crown Heights Neighborhood Group and today, she's the president. Each month, Peñaflor, who was nominated by Community Housing Works of San Diego, brings together area residents, local police and staff from non-profits like NeighborWorks affiliate Community Housing Works to discuss community concerns and develop collaborative solutions. This approach proved vital in reversing a city plan to remove the neighborhood school bus.  Instead of losing the bus, Rosa and her constituents talked to the local school district resulting in residents being able to get a subsidized bus fee if they agreed to do monthly community cleanups.  When asked to share a word of advice, Peñaflor said "You will find many obstacles when you have an agenda you want to get done, but keep fighting for your goal and find your leadership strength, Don't ever let the problems and roadblocks divert you from your goal."

Sharon Curry – Urban Edge of Boston in Boston, Massachusetts

Sharon Curry, nominated by Urban Edge, Boston, believes that "the way to create a healthy environment for every child to grow up in is to do for your neighbors' children as you would do for your own."  One of the projects Ms. Curry championed was to start a local branch of the Boston Red Sox baseball Rookie League, and one of the proudest moments of her life came when that team won the local championship. When asked how she inspires others to get involved, Sharon said simply "I listen.  I tell folks it's important to listen, and we just don't listen enough, but when we listen the answer is right there.  It takes very little for a person to be a leader; it's just like a tiny mustard seed that can grow into something big."

Terry Miller – NeighborWorks Great Falls in Montana

Terry Miller has been a volunteer in Black Eagle, Montana for more than 30 years, and over that time she has touched NeighborWorks Great Falls on numerous occasions. Recognizing Ms. Miller's efforts, NeighborWorks Great Falls nominated her for a Dorothy Richardson Award. Her efforts, such as developing a city-wide Neighborhood Watch program and initiating the annual spring community clean-up, have helped make Black Eagle a community of choice.  Miller's advice to others interested in volunteering was, "Volunteerism is very fulfilling. Get involved in things you feel passionate about and things that make a difference in your community and your neighborhood."

The 2012 Dorothy Richardson Award honorees exemplify the commitment to community service and to helping others that is championed by NeighborWorks America and the NeighborWorks network. More information about the Dorothy Richardson Award honorees can be found at www.nw.org/drawards

About the Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Awards

The awards are named in honor of Dorothy Richardson of Pittsburgh, a pioneer in the community-based development movement who was the driving force behind the establishment of the first Neighborhood Housing Services resident-led partnership, the forerunner of today's NeighborWorks network.
Richardson and a small group of her neighbors in the 1960s banded together in a fight to save their dying neighborhood in Pittsburgh's Central North Side. They recruited partners in local government and the business community. Together, they won their battle and doing so set a precedent that changed the nation's approach to urban redevelopment and spawned the new field of community-based development.

About NeighborWorks® America

NeighborWorks® America creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals. More information can be found at www.nw.org

The NeighborWorks America logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=15144

CONTACT: Douglas Robinson, 202-220-2360 drobinson@nw.org twitter: @neighborworkspr

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