As the year draws to a close, commentator Terri Lee Freeman weighs in on the most fascinating people of 2010. Freeman is president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.
This time of year everyone from Barbara Walters to Time Magazine tries to convince us who has earned the title of the most fascinating person of the year. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has already made the list. So has pop sensation Lady Gaga, author Stieg Larsson and the kids featured in the movie "Waiting for Superman." I, for one, like that choice.
I have a list of my own.
While the people on my list have never won a Grammy or produced a best-selling novel, they are the unsung heroes of our community. These four residents of the Washington region -– who recently received The Community Foundation's 2010 Linowes Leadership Awards -— demonstrate extraordinary leadership and service, yet have received little if any reward or recognition until now.
My list includes Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, a community educator and organizer for the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Northern Virginia, where he provides resources and information to new immigrant communities. Edgar ensures these newcomers to our region have a basic understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
Christopher Barnhill is also on my list. Chris is education and curriculum coordinator at Metro TeenAIDS, where he teaches young people the importance of preventing AIDS and getting tested. Chris has devoted his life to eliminating HIV transmission in our city and creating a community that engages and supports HIV-positive youth.
Allison Baugher is a Teach for America alumna, now in her third year of teaching Spanish at Ballou High School in Southeast Washington. In the midst of a school and community plagued by low expectations, Allison brings fresh energy and ideas to the classroom, challenging students with a creative curriculum, organizing trips to foreign countries and mentoring colleagues.
My list would not be complete without mentioning Evelyn Green, manager of the Bethany Women's Center at N Street Village. Once a client at N Street, Evelyn now designs the addiction-recovery curriculum, provides moral support to staff and offers hope to women trying to reclaim their lives from the terrible grip of addiction.
I hope as the year comes to a close, you are developing your own list of unsung heroes and finding ways to support their dedication and service to their neighbors and neighborhoods. Have a happy New Year.