2005 Hometown Heroes

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Decatur Hometown Heroes Announced for 2005
2005 Hometown Heroes
Paige Brown
Paige has been instrumental in helping the residents of Glennwood Estates achieve significant impacts on the proposed development of two parcels of land within the neighborhood. For one development she helped form a task force which met with the developer and engineer and presided at a comprehensive meeting of the neighborhood. As a result, the developer agreed to a second entrance and the neighborhood. For another development she helped coordinate the neighborhood's significant opposition to requested variances and achieved a reduction in the number of houses built. Other efforts include the successful fundraising to create the Glenn Creek Nature Preserve. Through her diligence and level-headed leadership, the neighborhood has, as a body, responded constructively to local development proposals.
Nominated by: Betsy Tanner & Kay Hyde.

Frank Burdette
Frank became co-chair of the Decatur Preservation Alliance's Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Project held in January in 2005 bringing a wealth of ideas to the project and was responsible for transforming it from a half-day of service to a three-day weekend. Frank was appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission in 2004 and with his Masters degree in Historic Preservation has been an asset to the Commission. He is currently helping his street, Ponce de Leon Court, become a local historic district, and forming a neighborhood association. He volunteers annually for the Great Decatur Beer Tasting Festival and is an active volunteer at his church. He had made exceptional efforts in the community, especially in regard to making sure senior citizens are safe and comfortable in their homes, protecting the historic character of the community and uniting his neighbors.
Nominated by: Lee Ann Harvey

Richard Cohen
Richard believes that we start with small and daily actions to transform our neighborhoods, communities, and the world. For him, that means he has picked up litter in our MAK district and beyond on a daily basis since we moved here 12 years ago. He juggles walking our three dogs with spotting and scooping up the thousands of pieces of trash, empty chip bags, soda cans, soggy papers, and cigarette butts that spoil our streets, sidewalks, and green spaces. Richard has served on the Waste Management Advisory Board since 1998 and is the current chair. Under his leadership WMAB has been revitalized and its concerns expanded to litter control and cigarette butt abatement. He has provided citizen advisory leadership in the management and extension of the city's recycling program, including the inaugural Computer Equipment Recycling Day. He has been an active member of the city's Green Umbrella coalition, helping to plan Earth Day activities and other efforts to keep our town environmentally healthy and pristine.
Nominated by: Rev. Marti Keller

Tom Keating
As an educator by profession, Tom understands the value and need to nurture citizens' desires for openness and accountability in local government. He has been active during the past 17 years in monitoring and supporting activities of the city commission and school board and was appointed as a school board member in the early 1990s. He attends school board meetings regularly and shares his insights and observations about monitoring and fostering high academic expectations for all students. He has been the architect of numerous educational, civic and social changes within Decatur during the past 10 years including advocacy for a revised and new city charter, world language for K-5 students, and the 100-year celebration of the school system. Residents and students refer to him as the "Bathroom Man" or "Penguin Man" because of his years of advocacy and educational presentations about the need of awareness about clean and decent restrooms in public schools and the habitat and behavior of penguins. His interests in maintaining honest and open dialogue between citizens and our elected officials regarding public policy matters ranks him high in the minds and hearts of many Decatur citizens.
Nominated by: Paul Jones

Randy Lane
When it comes to volunteering and helping the community, Randy is a man with a mission. Whether he is the leader of a team or working behind the scenes, Randy can always be counted on to get the job done. Randy brings a wonderful spirit of cooperation, knows how to listen to and respect people and doesn't expect thanks in return. You can find him visiting with the senior citizens of the neighborhood to see if they need assistance with household chores, at the Oakhurst Community Garden building the raised garden beds to allow for wheelchair accessibility, at Oakhurst Presbyterian building chariots for the church play or teaching Sunday school, at any one of Decatur's festivals grilling hot dogs, and building stages for the South Decatur Community Development Corporation, and much, much more. He is a man who loves and respects his community.
Nominated by Cindi and Pete Poth-Nebel.

Janice Mathews
If there is an opportunity to serve someone in the community, Janice is there creating opportunities, nurturing relationships, or running programs to serve those who can benefit from her efforts. She works for the Decatur-DeKalb YMCA but her day spans far beyond the "9 to 5" and outside of "Monday through Friday." YMCA members love her welcoming smile and open heart. Volunteers serve countless hours for her – supporting her passion and commitment to the Decatur-DeKalb community. It is not always the "big things" that Janice does in the community and at the YMCA, sometimes it is the small things . . . because of Janice, the YMCA always has a supply of colorful balloons and a helium tank on hand for any special occasion. While Janice's latest endeavors include Seniors, People with Disabilities and Refugee Families and Children, the countless things that make Janice special boil down to one things: how she treats people. She values all people and strives to create opportunities for people to be all they can be. Doing for others is what Janice does.
Nominated by: Bill McKay.

Alvin McNeely & Katie Pedersen
Rarely does the City Schools of Decatur encounter individuals who enthusiastically volunteer their efforts in a variety of ways to help the entire school district encounter individuals who enthusiastically volunteer their efforts in a variety of ways to help the entire school district succeed to the benefit of the entire city like Alvin and Katie. Though their children are very young, Katie and Alvin were involved in helping to find solutions to problems that were being faced by City Schools of Decatur well before their own children entered school. During the turmoil that followed the board's decision to reconfigure Decatur's elementary schools, they worked hard to support the decisions of the board and to move the community forward by participating as founding members of CUDS, Citizens United for Decatur Schools. Later, that group was reinvented as 'Decatur Works' under their leadership. They both turned 40 this year and instead of giving each other a gift, they decided to use the money to throw a big party that would become a gift to the community. In lieu of gifts, they asked their friends and family members in attendance to make a donation to the Decatur Education Foundation in their honor. The event raised more than $3,000 that will be used to provide educational enrichment opportunities for children and youth throughout Decatur. They have both served on boards at the Phoenix School and the Community Center of South Decatur.
Nominated by: Sherri B. Breunig.

Daniel Newman
Daniel is a tireless supporter of the Decatur community. He not only volunteers on a regular basis, he also goes above and beyond what is expected in his volunteer role. Daniel coached baseball for three years and soccer for two years through the Recreation & Community Services Department and volunteered regularly for the Baseball Opening Day Parade. He has volunteer at the MLK Service Project for three years and in 2005 assumed a leadership role as one of the House Captains. Decatur's special events can always depend on Daniel to help out. He has been a longtime member of the Arts Festival and Beach Party committees. His diligence with overseeing the set up of the Beach Party and supervising the set up volunteers was a major factor in reducing the amount of time needed for set up. He has strong organizational skills and can work well with and motivate the diverse volunteers. He also recruits numerous friends to volunteer, is a supporter of his neighborhood association events, assists with logistics and troubleshooting at all the festivals. A recurring theme in his volunteer efforts is to look for a community need and find a way he can fill it. He always goes the extra mile and never leaves a job unfinished. He has an innate passion for the power of volunteerism.
Nominated by: Lee Ann Harvey.

Angelo, Elizabeth (Bette), and Anthony Pitillo
Our nominees own and manage Café Lily and Levi's Key West Fishhouse, which are warm, welcoming neighborhood restaurants with comforting food and intimate ambience. The Pitillos have been strong community participants and benefactors from the beginning of their association with the city some six years ago. They hosted a 'Trick or Trick for Our House event, providing all of the food as well as the location. At the time, Our House was on the verge of closing its doors. The fundraiser filled a need, saved the facility, and has become an increasingly successful event. The Garden of Eatin' raises money for the Decatur Cooperative Ministry and for six years the Pitillos have participated by donating food as well as staff services. In partnership with the City of Decatur Police, they have held street parties to raise money for Special Olympics and participate annually in Christmas Decatur. They have hosted the Retail/Restaurant Committee on several occasions, closing their restaurant and serving breakfast to the 50 committee members without charge. Anthony serves on the board of Neighborhood Playhouse and all of the Pitillos have helped raise funds for the organization.
Nominated by: The 'Girls' at Table 34 ' Frances Abercrombie, Susan Cobleigh, & Jane Parker.

Ethel Steverson
Ethel has contributed to the City of Decatur in a variety of ways over the past 30 plus years. She is truly one of the 'unsung heroes' of Decatur, as she carries on her good works in her modest and self-effacing way. She was one of the founders of the Oakhurst Neighborhood Association about 10 years ago and helped get that neighborhood group up and running. She is a graduate of the Decatur 101 program and the Citizens Public Safety Academy. As an Elder and member of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church for more than 30 years, she has been central to the church's life, chairing most of the committees the church has including serving on the Selection Committee that chose the current ministers in 1983, organizing programs for seniors, chairing the Christian Education and Administration committees, and serving as Clerk of Session. She expresses her compassion for others on a one-to-one level. She is a true, if quiet, example of 'neighbor helping neighbor.' She has provided shelter in her own home to her neighbors who need it, as well as companionship to friends in the community. She quietly provides meals to shut-ins, taking care of those in need without calling attention to herself. She was the co-founder with Elizabeth Wilson of the Seniors' Tax Relief program that has made a major difference in seniors' lives by raising money to help senior citizens pay their rising taxes. She is modest about her work and her name rarely appears in print although she is always there for others and always willing to help.
Nominated by: Elizabeth Wilson & Lorri Mills.

Beth Thompson
Beth is an active supporter of her neighborhood and has served on the board of the Community Center of South Decatur (CCSD) for the past four years. She chairs the Beautification Committee, which oversees building and grounds maintenance of the Solarium. She obtained bids and sought funding to implement a landscaping plan. She has scheduled workdays for painting and landscaping and joined the rest of the board in their brick sale fundraising effort. She is the co-founder and organizer of the Oakhurst Halloween Event that provides a safe place for children to celebrate Halloween by bobbing for apples and other traditional games. She is co-chair of the Decatur Arts Festival's Children's Arts Festival and has been co-chair of A Season of Giving/Christmas Decatur for the past two years. Beth is active with the Oakhurst Elementary PTA and strongly believes in supporting the school system. She is willing to put her efforts behind her beliefs and walked door to door throughout the city to hand out information regarding changes in the school system. She is always willing to take a leadership role to be certain things get done and can be depended on to do what is necessary to accomplish a goal. She works hard at these efforts with a positive, upbeat attitude that draws in everyone around her.
Nominated by: Lee Ann Harvey.

Pearl Trimble
Pearl Trimble passed away suddenly and unexpectedly and this nomination is submitted posthumously in honor of the way she touched many souls and warmed many hearts during her life. Born Willie Pearl Worrell, she lived on Second Avenue and graduated from Decatur High School and holds the girls' scoring record at Decatur High to this day. DHS retired Pearl's jersey number when she graduated. She went on to become a coach and an educator. Pearl's return to Oakhurst was a godsend to the community and fostered dignity for the Solarium. She was responsible in large part for success of the Solarium rental business, enabling the community to maintain the building as the asset that it is. She also provided a steady, focused approach to getting the Solarium on its feet and was a very creative, intelligent, spiritual and courageous woman with an unbelievable will. Her greatest gift was the joy that she shared with those who came to know her. Pearl is survived by two daughters, Monica and Michelle, two brothers and five sisters.
Nominated by: Phyllis Gilbert, Amy Wilson, & Beth Thompson.

Elizabeth L. (Beth) Vann
Decatur Cooperative Ministry has been blessed over the last four years to have Beth as its Executive Director. With her leadership, DCM serves hundreds of homeless and nearly homeless people in Decatur and DeKalb County every year. Beth has assisted in raising DCM's profile in the community and greatly enhanced and expanded its funding sources. Beth believes in working to eradicate homelessness. She also serves on boards of organizations dedicated to that purpose. She has been active at Oakhurst Baptist Church for many years and serves dinner to residents of the Oakhurst Recovery Program on a monthly basis. In 2005, she took on another leadership role serving as co-chair of the DBA Concerts on the Square Committee. Beth is truly a tireless ambassador for the homeless and nearly homeless, as well as a strong advocate for Decatur.
Nominated by: Bobby Slotkin.

Leah Kennedy Vaughan
Leah has spent the majority of her life as a Decatur resident and for many years has helped to make Decatur a better place. During her five-year tenure with Sycamore Consulting her involvement and engagement in the community, as well as her resourcefulness and talent in making things happen, has been impressive. It is evident in her role as outreach coordinator and her consistent performance on the job. While Sycamore was working on the Comprehensive Plan Update, Leah was charged with citizen involvement in the visioning of a future Decatur. Her creative efforts and extensive outreach to the community resulted in a very strong vision component for the plan. She chaired the Christmas Tree Sales for Winnona Park Elementary and personally delivered trees to increase business. She co-chaired the stewardship campaign for Decatur Presbyterian Church and as a resident in her neighborhood, she presides over the 'fun' committee. With the tragic death of Ed Timmons in early July, Leah and her Sunday School class prepared food for family and well-wishers. She assisted with the coordination of a home improvement day involving nearly 100 Decatur residents. She remains on-the-job in Decatur working behind the scenes to make sure that kindness and generosity of spirit are the order of the day.
Nominated by: Liz Sanford Stepp.

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Special Hometown Hero Award
Presented to: Paul Pierce & the Decatur Housing Authority

The Decatur Housing Authority is deserving of a special hometown hero award in recognition of the services it provides to the City of Decatur Community. In part, the Housing Authority's mission is to support the strength and diversity of the Decatur community by providing a wide range of housing opportunities. To this end the Housing Authority owns or manages public housing properties, rental subsidies properties and market rate rental and owner occupied housing. The Decatur Housing Authority has been a strong and reliable partner in the City's efforts to provide affordable housing opportunities including offering homeownership possibilities to employees of the City and the City Schools. The Decatur Housing Authority provided leadership in the redevelopment of the Historic Scottish Rite Hospital property by developing the residences in Oakhurst Village.

When the City Commission decided to develop a life-cycle housing program, the Decatur Housing Authority joined in to assist developers in organizing and managing the life-cycle program.

Currently the Decatur Housing Authority is leading the way in transit oriented development in the Avondale LCI project area by developing a mixed-use development that will offer a mixture of rental housing opportunities immediately adjacent to the Avondale MARTA Station.