City of Orlando recognizes neighborhood and community leaders

Featured on: West Orlando News

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On Saturday, March 1, 2014, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joined more than 300 Orlando residents for the 9th Annual Neighborhood & Community Summit.

At this year’s summit, Mayor Dyer presented the Rising Star Award, the Neighborhood Champion Award and the Community Builder Award to formally recognize the contributions of the outstanding leaders and role models in the City of Orlando.

“I appreciate every City resident who has donated their time, talent and resources to improving our quality of life,” said Dyer. “I was honored to recognize three of those citizens at the Neighborhood & Community Summit for the positive impact they have made in our community.”

The Neighborhood Champion award was presented to Churchill Thompson. Thompson was recognized for her dedicated efforts and constant involvement in coordinating efforts to improve the neighborhood, including sidewalk safety improvements, neighborhood beautification days and hosting regular community celebrations in the Rose Isles community.

The Community Builder award recipient was Dr. Ruth McKeefery. McKeefery is the volunteer director at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and has coordinated their IMPACT (Innovative, Ministries with Parents, Administrators, Children and Teachers) program for the past five years. Through IMPACT, Dr. McKeefery and volunteers support two Title One elementary schools, Mollie Ray and Pineloch. To date she has recruited, trained and placed more than 400 volunteers at the schools.

The Rising Star recognition was awarded to Maya Tharoo. At nine years old, she is the youngest Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) volunteer at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, visiting families regularly for the last several years. She walks from room to room meeting the families, smiling, inspiring, encouraging and bringing happiness and hope to families.

The Summit brought together neighborhood, arts & cultural, civic, community and faith-based leaders and volunteers to share information on community building and civic engagement. A variety of neighborhood engagement workshops, best practices and networking opportunities were provided for attendees.