A beacon is a light that serves as a signal or guide.

Presented in partnership by the One Foundation and Generation West Virginia (GWV), the West Virginia Beacon Awards recognize, support, and connect young leaders between the ages of 18-40 who are working tirelessly with their communities to create lasting impact. 
 
Beacon Awards Winners are leaning in to existing challenges, digging into possible solutions and most importantly, turning their ideas into action. The award winners serve as beacons in their communities and across the state, reminding us that even one person’s dedicated positive actions can truly make a difference. 
 
This year, the West Virginia Beacon Awards will recognize six leaders with a monetary award of $2,000 each to support and sustain the impact they are making in their communities. Additionally, GWV will support the cohort of Beacon Award Winners for a year by connecting them with local Generation groups for events, promoting their work through GWV’s statewide platforms, connecting them with coaching and mentorship based on their interests and needs, and hosting retreats where the cohort can learn and support each other to build a community that outlasts this award.

This year’s Beacon Awardees will be honored at an event on October 17th at the Clay Center's Caperton Planetarium & Theater.

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The 2019 Beacon Award Winners

Shardinae Adams "TK Blockstar"
Fairmont

In spite of facing considerable obstacles in her own life, TK has become a tireless entrepreneur and advocate for her community. Whether spearheading a project to refurbish and reimagine a community center, organizing local concerts and championing the arts, or helping people register to vote, TK is infectiously positive and utterly unstoppable. She is a respected mentor and inspiration to many in her community, always using her energy, creativity, and spirit to ensure that people don’t give up on themselves.

“I truly want to bring back love into my community, bring back that simple love – like checking on your neighbor – and caring for the people around you. I want to bring back positivity and remind people about hard work and dedication because that’s what our state truly needs.”

Sarah Cordwell
Charleston

As co-founder and leader of Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR), Sarah is not only facilitating pathways to recovery from addiction—she is also helping generate systems-level solutions to the opioid crisis in Charleston. Sarah actively incorporates practices of honesty and integrity in everything she does, drawing upon her own experience of recovery to empower others. Sarah leads by listening. Through exceptional sensitivity to others’ needs and her genuine passion for helping people recover from addiction, she has been and continues to be a powerful force for good in her community.

“I like to be responsible, I like to be dependable, I like to show up for myself. I feel called to show up for my community—for my peers now and for my future peers.”

Michael Farmer
Charleston

Program director at the locally-based nonprofit organization Step By Step and pastor at Risen City church, Farmer is a servant leader who works with and for his community to make it better for all—children especially. Farmer’s remarkable ability to connect with anyone, along with his talent at building lasting relationships founded on mutual respect, have greatly aided him in his mission to serve. By forging connections and bringing people together, Farmer is expanding access to resources, improving quality of life, and making Charleston’s West Side tangibly healthier and stronger.

“You don’t have to have this extensive background to be able to help youth and kids. It’s a matter of just being there consistently with them. And that’s the first step: just being consistent.”

Lucy Godwin
Beverly

As a young mother, teacher, and engaged member of her small, rural community, Lucy was aware of a pressing need for supplemental educational opportunities in Beverly. She took initiative—securing grant funding and establishing community partnerships—and created the Beverly Book Mobile (which provides access to healthy snacks as well as books). Through her determination, knack for problem-solving, and compelling vision, Lucy has ensured that the Book Mobile’s services continue to grow and benefit every part of her community. Lucy’s capacity to inspire trust in others and turn her ideas into action are providing essential opportunities and support to many.

“Our project is a great example of what can happen when an entire community shares their imaginations, talents, enthusiasm, and resources. So many hearts, hands, and minds have worked together to make our project what it is.”

Alison Ibarra
Fayetteville

A go-getter with a record of accomplishing whatever she sets her mind to, Allison’s positive impact on her community has been pervasive. From serving as secretary on the New River Gorge Learning Cooperative’s executive committee to rehabilitating a local bowling alley, Allison continually demonstrates that she is willing to do what it takes to get things done—and done well. She is relentless in her efforts to make her community better and is known by everyone who has had the chance to work with her as unfailingly loyal, a true team player, and the kind of person you can count on to make waves.

“What can we do to help? This is our community. These are our people. How do we help them out?”

Dural Miller
Charleston

A long-time resident of Charleston’s West Side, Dural is founder and CEO of the locally-based nonprofit organization Keep Your Faith Corporation (KYFC). Its mission is as ambitious as its founder’s is: to empower members of the community through outreach and direct services, and, ultimately, to improve the overall quality of life on the West Side. By facilitating crucial partnerships, providing mentorship to other young and motivated change agents, and always staying true to his values, Dural is helping positively transform his community and guide it toward its full potential.

“If we can give them some tools to go forward, then we can cut into homelessness a little bit, because those folks can talk to other people on the streets who aren’t going to listen to me and bring them in—and then we’ve got something to give them once they get here.”

Selection Criteria

LOCALLY-FOCUSED

Nominees must be embedded in their local community, working with the people most impacted by significant local challenges. Nominees work to find solutions that are at the root of these challenges. And in doing so, nominees provide inspiration to others in their community.

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

Nominees are entrepreneurial and enthusiastic about their work. They see the challenge of existing gaps as exciting opportunities for unique solutions that lift themselves and others up, while simultaneously serving their communities and bettering the state.

GENEROUS LEADERSHIP

Nominees possess a vision of a better future for their community and their work is inclusive and empowering of others. They are driven not by external validation but rather by an altruism to better their community for everyone and for the state as a whole. Their leadership is anchored by compassion, heartfelt caring, self-awareness and honesty. These leaders are successful because they are intentional and self-determined. Nominees are partners, collaborators, and unifiers. They should exhibit the ability to work as part of a team across community divides.

IMPACT IN ACTION

Nominees are engaged in work that is already underway with measurable success. Their work has potential for local, regional, and statewide transformational impact. At this stage, their work is not required to be formalized or have a reached full potential; however the work must have already demonstrated success and could be expanded to make more impact.

Selection Process

Phase 1: Call for Nominations

The West Virginia Beacon Awards are selected on a nomination-basis. Nominations for those leaders who are performing outstanding work in their community were submitted online between March 1st – 31st, 2019. Through the nomination form, nominators provided basic information including name, organization (if applicable), the primary community of work, and answers to several longer descriptive questions. These questions provided further detail on the individual, their work and strategy, and how they are supporting their community through their vision and execution. The nomination form also included the contact information for at least three references that could further speak to the nominee and the impact they are making. We are used a nomination process that is consistent with our desire to select awardees who are under the radar and are humble and not focused on recognition.

Phase 2: Nominations Review

The Review Committee, made up of Generation West Virginia and One Foundation staff, review all nominations according to the selection criteria as outlined above to identify up to 20 individuals to continue to on to Phase 3.

Phase 3: Follow Up & Research

The Review Committee reached out to each of the listed contacts for the individuals identified in Phase 2. After receiving additional feedback from references the Nominating Committee reached out to the nominated individuals directly for in depth interviews. The nominator remains confidential throughout the process.

Phase 4: Award Selection

Based on the Phase 3 research, the Review Committee and prominent community leaders selected six winners for the award.

Phase 5: Beacon Awards Presentation

On October 17th at the Clay Center in Charleston, the One Foundation and Generation West Virginia will host an awards ceremony where the six Beacon Award Winners are presented with monetary awards of $2,000 each.

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