SOURCE: Neighborworks America

June 30, 2008 14:55 ET

NeighborWorks® America Honors Eight Local Heroes for Community Building and Transforming Neighborhoods With 2008 Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - June 30, 2008) - Today NeighborWorks® America announced the recipients of the 2008 Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership, an honor that each year recognizes eight community leaders from around the country and 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.

"This year's Dorothy Richardson Award honorees have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to improving the communities in which they live," said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks® America. "Their important contributions have helped to transform and enrich their neighborhoods and towns, creating lasting benefits for countless residents. We are proud to honor them for their generous service to others."

The eight individuals honored and the NeighborWorks® organizations that nominated them are:

--  Dr. Richard Briscoe, Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa,
    Tampa, Fla.: Dr. Briscoe has more than thirty years of experience as a
    psychologist, researcher and project director, and provides services and
    developing intervention programs for physically and emotionally handicapped
    individuals. Dr. Briscoe was instrumental in the founding of CDC of Tampa
    more than 15 years ago, and the formation of its focus on affordable
    housing, jobs, and capital to expand the local business community. Dr.
    Briscoe continues to lead by example, always willing to step in to help the
    CDC of Tampa find solutions to challenges presented, and his ongoing
    support and expertise is invaluable to CDC of Tampa and the East Tampa
--  Juan Pablo Gonzalez, Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County,
    Anaheim, Calif.: Gonzalez has been a community leader in La Habra for a
    number of years, with a keen interest in working with young people. From
    tutoring children and encouraging them to excel in school, to volunteering
    with a local program that helps low-income and minority students complete
    college applications and secure funding to continue their educations,
    Gonzalez has mentored and helped many young people stay on track. In
    addition to encouraging students to continue their education, Gonzalez is
    also involved in community building and resident leadership activities, and
    always available to help plan, organize, fundraise, recruit volunteers and
    participate in neighborhood events such as Pride Days, Neighborhood Clean-
    up Projects, neighborhood fairs and 5K runs conducted by NHS of Orange
    County. Gonzalez's efforts have made a difference in the La Habra
--  Elkin Montoya, Coalition for a Better Acre, Lowell, Mass.: Montoya,
    who moved to Lowell from his native Colombia in 1974, first got involved in
    community organizing as a resident leader when he was a teenager living in
    an expiring use property -- the North Canal Apartments -- which CBA was
    working to preserve and save. Very active in the early 1980s, Montoya
    subsequently served on the Board of Directors of CBA between 1985 and 2003.
    Re-elected Board President in 2007, Montoya leads a new, energized board
    that has been credited with increasing CBA's membership base from about 200
    to almost 500 in the last year. Montoya's more than 20 years of service
    will continue to serve the Lowell community well for years to come.
--  Windy Pearson, Neighborhood Housing Services of Freeport, Inc.,
    Freeport, Ill.: Pearson first came to NHS of Freeport with an interest in
    homeownership.  Considered disabled due to a brain condition that has
    caused her temporary blindness, Pearson persevered, and since participating
    in homeownership counseling, has become a proud homeowner in her Freeport
    community. Upon moving to her community, Pearson immediately became active,
    playing an important role in fundraising that led to the reopening of the
    local Boys and Girls Club. Pearson continues to spur neighbors to be more
    assertive in combating and reporting criminal activity, which has also
    brought her the respect of city and law enforcement officials. Pearson's
    accomplishments are an inspiration to others, as she has not only battled
    her own disability, but has also pushed forward to make her neighborhood
    and community a safer and more positive place to live.
--  Idaho Purce, Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc., Pocatello,
    Idaho: Purce is a longtime resident of Pocatello's Bonneville neighborhood,
    one of the oldest communities in the city, and has a long history of
    advocating for the needs of her community and other Pocatello
    neighborhoods. In 1972, Purce was instrumental in securing a HUD grant and
    working with the City of Pocatello to establish the Bonneville Community
    Center and Bonneville Neighborhood Park. Today, Purce spends much of her
    time encouraging others to volunteer for initiatives that will benefit the
    community. She motivates neighborhood residents by providing the skills and
    instilling the confidence that enables them to speak out with a strong
    voice and helps them become stewards for positive change.
--  Sharon Smith, Neighborhood Housing Services of Lehigh Valley, Inc.,
    Allentown, Pa.: As an active resident leader involved in three community
    groups in Allentown, Pa., for more than 20 years, the list of Smith's
    contributions and accomplishments could go on for miles. Just a few of
    Smith's credits include instrumental roles in the development of
    rehabilitation loan programs, home ownership programs, and a 23 unit
    affordable housing project at NHS of Lehigh Valley; co-founding of an
    active crime watch group that serves the historic district of Allentown;
    and continued service as a board member in charge of community outreach for
    the local preservation association. Through her active community
    involvement, Smith is a beacon for Allentown residents.
--  Denise Washington, Neighborhoods Inc. of Battle Creek, Battle Creek,
    Mich.: An inspiration to many, Washington began her relationship with NIBC
    as a client in 1993, and became a proud homeowner within one year of
    receiving homeownership and financial counseling. Since then, Washington, a
    mother of four, has gone on to receive bachelor's and master's degrees
    while working full-time. In addition, Washington has immersed herself in
    community involvement, by becoming a community builder and resident
    leadership trainer, creating and facilitating programs for at-risk youth,
    and serving on NIBC's Board. Currently the Community Development
    Coordinator of the City of Battle Creek, Washington remains a strong
    supporter of NIBC and residents' efforts to improve neighborhoods.
--  James Zecca, UNHS NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center, Utica, N.Y.: A
    charter member of the West Utica Concerned Citizens (WUCC), Zecca's
    dedication to his community is evident in his advocacy for government
    responsiveness to neighborhood concerns. In 2005, Zecca was elected to the
    Utica Common Council, where today he actively promotes resident initiatives
    and ideas, including the Advantage After School Program, which opened after
    two years of planning and advocacy; the Parental Accountability Ordinance,
    which passed unanimously last October; and the successful effort to stop
    street closings and reallocate funds to other community projects. As a
    tireless volunteer with UNHS NeighborWorks Homeownership Center, Zecca
    helps organize the "Yard of the Month" Program, cited for excellence by the
    NYS Attorney General's Office.

Created in 1991, the Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership honors a resident from each of its eight districts who exemplifies the qualities of Dorothy Richardson, a Pittsburgh activist who helped advance the community-based development movement that informed the formation of the NeighborWorks® network.

For more information about the NeighborWorks® Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership, and the 2008 honorees, visit:

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. Since 1991, we have assisted nearly 1.2 million low- to moderate-income families with their housing needs. Much of our success is achieved through our support of the NeighborWorks® network -- more than 230 community development organizations working in more than 4,400 urban, suburban and rural communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In the last five years, NeighborWorks® organizations have generated more than $15 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks® America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

Contact Information