Mayor Purzycki Announces the 2019 Wilmington Awards Recipients
A ceremony in October will honor Wilmington citizens for outstanding accomplishments, community service, and life-long achievement
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki today announced the recipients of the 2019 Wilmington Awards, who will be honored at a public ceremony on October 2 at the Louis L. Redding City/County Building in Downtown Wilmington, 800 N. French Street.
Established by former Mayor James M. Baker in 2001 to recognize outstanding accomplishments of citizens, the Wilmington Awards Program honors distinguished Wilmington citizens who excel in the fields of the arts, athletics, business, education, environment, health or science. It also recognizes individuals for their community service, heroism, contributions to the faith-based community, and dedication to the cause of human and civil rights. In addition, senior citizens are recognized for their accomplishments.
The 2019 honorees, representing themselves, their communities or their businesses, are as follows:
Wilmington Award for Community Service (Faith)
Loving Arms Ministry (LAM) for Foster Children, started by Elaine Jones in 2016 as part of the Resurrection Center Church, is a program that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of foster care and the needs of foster care youth in New Castle County. In just over 2 ½ years, LAM has made a positive difference in the lives of nearly 1,100 foster children. The ministry is designed “to enlist people to become advocates for children in foster care ... and to inspire and find foster families.” Aiming to ensure that every child has a family to call his or her own, LAM provides foster youth with Court Appointed Special Advocates and hosts conferences and information sessions to recruit court advocates, foster families, community partners, and volunteers. LAM gives at-risk children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect much needed items such as school supplies and winter coats, as well as support and an opportunity to give back.
We recognize Loving Arms Ministry with a Wilmington Award for community service in the category of Faith, making a difference in our community one child at a time.
Wilmington Award for Civil Rights
The Latin American Community Center (LACC) was founded in Wilmington in 1969 to empower the Latino community through education, advocacy, partnership, and exceptional service delivery. It now serves over 7,000 people a year, including recent arrivals as well as first- and second-generation immigrant families from throughout Latin and South America – our state’s fastest growing ethnic group. LACC, alone and in partnership with numerous agencies and organizations, provides a wide array of services, including immigration services, support groups, case management, workforce development services, adult literacy and technical education classes, support for the elderly, Spanish-language services for victims of crime and domestic abuse, a food closet, a STARS level 5 day-care center, and a dual-language project-based learning charter school, among others. The LACC is the only multi-service agency serving Latino’s in New Castle County, and the largest Latino serving agency in the state, though programs and services are open to all ethnic groups.
The LACC is awarded a Wilmington Award in the category of Civil Rights this year in recognition of the 50 years of invaluable service that this organization has and continues to provide to Wilmington residents.
Wilmington Award for Community Service (Senior Citizen)
Mardell Coates is a strong community leader who, for over 35 years, has worked to make the Hilltop neighborhood a better place to live and raise a family. A founding member of the Westside Neighborhood Coalition, she has served as its President for the past several years.
Mrs. Coates has organized community clean-ups and helped to spearhead community participation in the “Weed and Seed” beautification program; has advocated for children on the West Side by helping to distribute school supplies; and has enhanced and expanded the annual Westside Neighborhood Coalition Christmas party, at which families receive toys and gifts as well as Christmas dinner. In addition, Mrs. Coates is co-chair of the Wilmington Advisory Council on Aging and co-chair of the Annual Wilmington Senior Ball. She is also very involved with her church, serving as the Missionaries President of Ebenezer Baptist Church Women’s Auxiliary and is a member of the Baptist Church Convention.
For her long-time contributions to community life and neighborhood improvement, Mardell Coates is recognized with a Wilmington Award in the Senior Citizen category, for community service.
Wilmington Award for Community Service (Environment)
Yuko Thomas lives in Servan Court, just south of Woodlawn Trustee’s Flats neighborhood. Originally from Fijinomiya, Japan – where social norms and community involvement in maintaining public spaces litter-free is a large part of the culture – Mrs. Thomas has continued that tradition of community involvement and keeping her neighborhood clean by picking up litter from the streets daily. Regardless of the season or the weather, she can be seen tirelessly picking up trash that others leave behind. Mrs. Thomas first came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student and chose to stay to continue her studies. She earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Oklahoma and her Master of Applied Science (MAS) in Aviation and Space Science. She has an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license – the highest level of aircraft pilot certification one can obtain – making her part of a trailblazing group of women in an industry where out of 160,000 ATP pilots, only 6,900 (4.58%) are women.
For setting an example with her selfless efforts to make our city a friendlier, nicer, and cleaner place to call home, the City of Wilmington recognizes Yuko Thomas with a Wilmington Award in the Environmental category for Community Service.
Wilmington Award for Community Service
Ajit Mathew George has been a Wilmington resident for 42 years. An entrepreneur, creative marketer, philanthropist, and changemaker who believes in community, Mr. George has been the catalyst for many good things in the City over the years. Among his accomplishments, Mr. George founded TEDx Wilmington in 2012; founded and organized the MidAtlantic Wine+Food Festival for four years; was the Founding Chairman of Meals on Wheels Delaware in 1989 and has raised over $4.2M for the organization; served as Chair of the Governor’s Council on Family Services; coordinated First Night Delaware; chaired the American Red Cross Delmarva Chapter black-tie “Monopoly Tournament” fundraiser; served as president of the Kiwanas Club; and is a member of the Wilmington Rotary Club. Most recently, he founded Second Chances Farms, LLC, an organization focused on hiring and giving entrepreneurial opportunities to people returning from prison after serving their sentence through the creation of indoor, hydroponic vertical farms that produce year-round organic produce in and for local communities.
The City of Wilmington recognizes Ajit Mathew George with a Wilmington Award in the category of Community Service for the many years of service he has given to the City.
Wilmington Award for Community Service
Dorrene Robinson is an active and engaged member of the Browntown neighborhood and a driving member of the Neighborhood Planning Council (NPC). Her passion project was the renovation of the Eddie Michaels Park and Playground. Mrs. Robinson did all the research and organizing, held all of the meetings, and served as the neighborhood liaison on the project. She shared the conceptual design and a proposed budget, first with the NPC Board, then with the Browntown Community Association. Browntown neighbors became highly engaged as the plan for the playground came to fruition, and attendance at civic association meetings grew. The community is now hopeful, excited, and full of renewed pride and empowerment, celebrating their accomplishment with organized neighborhood block parties throughout the summer. Dorrene Robinson was recently elected Sergeant of Arms of the Browntown Community Association and, with her ability to generate enthusiasm and hope, she maintains strong relationships throughout the community.
The City of Wilmington recognizes Dorrene Robinson with a Wilmington Award in the category of Community Service for her outstanding contributions as a change agent within her neighborhood of Browntown.
Wilmington Award for Community Service
V. Lynn Gregory has been a dedicated, selfless volunteer for many years. Though a mother of six children with a full-time professional career, she always made time to give to others. With a degree in Psychology from the University of Delaware and a degree in Counseling Education from the University of Florida, Mrs. Gregory enjoyed a long, rewarding career as a public high school guidance counselor and served female inmates before retiring in 2010. She is well known for her years of service to the city’s Millard A. Naylor Youth Football League. She was also the organizer of the city’s Relay for Life for over a decade, and an administrator with the Delaware Diamonds youth track and field club for years. Mrs. Gregory recently joined Student Disabilities Advocate, Inc. (SDA) as a volunteer, where she has provided consultations and advocacy services for over 70 families at no charge over the past 2½ years. She gives public presentations to help educate the community on related issues, and she assists families at non-legal school meetings (those that do not require an attorney but are still difficult for many parents to understand), acting as a navigator and advocate. She also helps parents – often single mothers – by providing transportation to and from school meetings, and assisting them to obtain housing, food, employment, clothing, or custody.
For her tireless devotion and use of her talents and knowledge in the service of others, V. Lynn Gregory is recognized with a Wilmington Award in the category of Community Service.
Wilmington Award for Education
Steven Washington has been an education specialist for nearly 30 years and has brought awareness and educational opportunities to many students in Wilmington and throughout the state. He is a Wilmington native who graduated from McKean High School and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University, and a master’s in Education from Arcadia University. Mr. Washington founded two nonprofits: NSUAA Delaware Chapter Inc. and HBCU Delaware Coalition Inc. He is the CEO of The HBCU Delaware Coalition, Inc., a non-profit established to engage and organize the alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to promote, develop, and encourage a broader interest in the quality, richness and intimacy of an education offered by these institutions. Mr. Washington also produced the HBCU Delaware Talks talk show (the only HBCU Live television talk show in the country). He is currently a special education reading specialist in the Brandywine School District and is dedicated to his students and teaching them how to become self-sufficient and self-supporting adults. He is also an ordained Deacon at Mt. Zion Greater Harvest Ministries International and a member of the Reach Riverside Educational Committee.
Steven Washington is recognized with a Wilmington Award in the category of Education for his dedication to promoting HBCUs and advancing the college aspirations of Wilmington’s youth.
Wilmington Award for Athletics
Charles “Chuck” D. Crawford is a nationally recognized rowing coach who volunteers tirelessly throughout the year. He was an early member of the Wilmington Rowing Center on the Christina River, and founder of the University of Delaware crew in 1991. He was also a co-founder, with Gordon and Faith Pizor, of the Wilmington Youth Rowing Association. He was recently named the American Collegiate Rowing Association men’s coach of the year, and he is the recipient of the Order of the Oar Award from the Wilmington Rowing Center. This year his lightweight crew won a national championship in the heavyweight men’s eight event, defeating 31 other colleges and universities at the ACRA Collegiate Club National Championship Regatta. In the past his crews have defeated very prestigious programs, including Harvard University’s and University of Michigan’s lightweight men’s crew. Over the years, Mr. Crawford has donated thousands of dollars to support the team, including buying boats for the athletes since the school does not provide them, as well as paying the full college tuition and living expenses of two Serbian students. Many of his rowers have returned to the waters of Wilmington to coach other crews, thus contributing to the City’s reputation for high-quality rowing.
For his lifetime achievements in coaching the sport of rowing and for the vibrancy he has brought to the Christina River in the City of Wilmington, we recognize Mr. Charles Crawford with a Wilmington Award in the category of Athletics.