Local Hero Winners
I’m so excited to announce the winners of our Nominate a Local Hero giveaway! We were flooded with incredible nominations from all across the country, giving us the enormous challenge of selecting our winners. Make no mistake, it was an impossible decision, as all of the nominations were stories of true heroes, but eventually a decision had to be made. Congratulations to the following winners who have already been contacted by email:
My nominee is Mama Lois Coleman, founder of Grace House.
Lois knew she wanted to help young people excel morally and academically, so she mounted a basketball hoop in her backyard and held cookouts for the children and teenagers in her neighborhood. The children soon began calling her “Mama Lois.” She later formed a club, called the Cultivators Club, to teach girls grace and manners.
Returning to Birmingham, Mama Lois worked with the Wales Gobel Ministry for over nine years. As a result, the Cultivators Club grew from being just a club to girls actually coming to live in her home. These girls were taught the same values she had been taught as a child. Not only did she work with these girls, but also worked with various agencies to send scores of inner-city children to camps each summer. It wasn’t long, however, before Mama Lois realized that there were more girls needing assistance than bedrooms in her home. She had a vision: to open a home to serve girls who had been abused or neglected.
Overcoming the big obstacles of funding, incorporating, purchasing property, and renovating, Mama Lois and a large host of volunteers opened that home in 1992, calling it Grace House Christian Home for Girls. At age 69, Mama Lois implemented a plan for operating this home: to provide a nurturing environment for girls from crisis backgrounds, where they could receive plenty of love and encouragement in a family setting.
There are now a total of three group homes operating in Fairfield, AL, which house up to 24 girls total. What began as a dream in one woman’s humble home is now Grace House Ministries, poised to make a difference in the lives of many young women and children in the 21st century.
Of all of the people I know, I have to nominate my 12 year old daughter Osjah. The child is truly amazing and that is not her Mom talking! By the time she started kindergarten she had enough community service hours to more than qualify her for graduation and since then has averaged about 1000 hours a year. Not only is she active in the community, but she finds problems and then figures out a way to solve them. Last year she adopted an underprivileged elementary school and supplied them with backpacks, school supplies, socks and jackets and held a fundraising event to supply them with money for special needs. She even managed to get a former Miss America and a Jets player to come speak to the kids and hosted a pizza party. She also held a Stocking For Soldiers event to ship Christmas stockings to Afghanistan to help brighten the holiday for the troops, food drives for the local food bank etc… She’s a gifted student and someday hopes to be a doctor or an attorney working with kids. You can Google this her. She is working now on getting her group (Osjah’s Wish – on Facebook) established as an official nonprofit. Some kids hang out with their friends at the mall on the weekends, this one hangs out with her friends working at the food bank or cleaning up the park. I couldn’t be more proud of her spirit and her heart.
I nominate my mom, Virgie. She has worked with LA County Children’s Services Department for 30+ years and finally retired last year. She dedicated herself to being a children’s advocate. She has implemented many of the parenting programs to teach parents how to discipline their children without abusing them. She even had a program for the parents that didn’t have to means to pay for classes where the social workers would watch the kids while the parents attended parenting classes in the evening (until the county cut the program)(sad but true). She wrote the developmental chart for children 0-18 years of age in which the county still uses today. This explained where a child should be developmentally in their growth stages. She was the supervisor for the emergency response unit in Covina, CA for many years. And I have to say the world is a better place because of her!! She has saved many lives with being a believer in continued education by keeping herself updated with all the latest news on health and disease issues like how to recognize certain illnesses that had similar characteristics to bruising that would be caused by abuse. She was actually recognized for saving the life of a baby with that type of illness. She has even had children that were raised in the foster system that came back after getting their education and worked for her as social workers and have become supervisors, deputies, etc. Her training and teaching techniques are amazing!
She just really made a difference in a lot of lives!! She has since retired but I would love for her to be recognized in any way possible. She is a “Hero” to all and we love her!!
Once again, thank you to all who took time to share a nomination, and thank you to all the heroes out there making our world a better place to live!