CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dr. Dan Foster, a tireless advocate of the arts and community health, and the Rev. James Ealy, who helped spearhead efforts to rename West Side Elementary School for educator Mary C. Snow, were among a dozen people and organizations honored Tuesday in the sixth annual We Love Our Community Awards.
Something of a Renaissance man, Foster finds time to serve on the Clay Center and West Virginia Symphony boards along with his medical practice and obligations with the Legislature. He won the Do The Charleston Award.
Ealy works mostly behind the scenes in his Florida Street neighborhood -- especially on youth programs -- both as pastor of New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church and as a member of City Council. Winner of the Servant Leader Award, he was unanimously re-elected to a third term on council in 2011 from his ward.
A somewhat bittersweet honor, the Outstanding Preservation Award, was given to Quarrier Diner owners Anna and Dave Pollitt a day after news broke that they were closing the diner's main dining room. Still, as the award recognizes, the Pollitts saved the beloved building from possible demolition. Daughter Lisa Pollitt accepted the award Tuesday.
The award ceremonies, sponsored by the Charleston Area Alliance, were held at the Charleston Town Center. Not coincidentally, the mall won the Best Redevelopment Award for its extensive interior renovations last year.
Customers lined up for grande cappuccinos and Tazo chai tea lattes at Starbucks, while diners peered over the rails of the third-floor Picnic Place to watch host Adam Harris hand the winners framed sketches by Chet Lowther.
Charleston artist Colleen Anderson read poems she wrote for each recipient.
"Hey, girl -- you're looking good," she read to mall manager Tom Bird after telling him the poem was about the project, not him personally.
Coming up with candidates for award winners has become pretty much a year-round proposition for the community affairs team -- a subcommittee of the Alliance's Community Development Committee, said Susie Salisbury, an Alliance vice president.
"We're constantly paying attention to what's going on -- projects and people," she said. "Then around November we starting thinking about the awards, brainstorming. We also take suggestions; we've done that several times.
"For each award we had several prospects. Sometimes each year I wonder if we'll have something, but already I'm looking ahead to next year. We've never had a shortage of worthy prospects.