December 13, 2018
By Desiree Hartman & Josette Williams, Vital Village Network
The original version of this post by was published in Vital Village's Blog and can be accessed here.
Every year, Vital Village Network community members nominate an Unsung Hero—an individual who extends themselves beyond expectations in their community or organization as a leader in maximizing child health and well-being. We assemble a committee, we review each nomination, and we celebrate the recipient with the network!
We honored our 2017 Unsung Hero, Rosalyn Johnson, at the January 2018 Network Connection Meeting. Rosalyn has demonstrated true leadership with the Vital Village Community Partnership (VVCP), Data Workgroups, and throughout the community.
Fellow community leader, Josette Williams, submitted an empowering nomination for Rosalyn:
"Rosalyn has been a dedicated Community Leader in Roxbury for over thirty years. She has been instrumental in ensuring resident voice, resources and relationships are at the forefront of her mission to revitalize a healthier community among her neighbors. We depend on her civic engagement and her expertise as a community leader.
As a long standing resident no one has been more committed and engaged in community events and activities than Rosalyn. She loves her family and her community, she doesn't waver in her support and advocacy for what she believes her people deserve.
Please consider Rosalyn as an Unsung Hero her dedication and volunteerism has proven over and over again she is the 'HERO', we have all been waiting for."
In an interview after her ceremony, we asked Rosalyn if she could share some words of wisdom with the network. She said, “If you can save one kid, then you know your job is done. And it’s up to us to be the village... We don’t have to do big things, it can be little things and then when people see what you’re doing, then they want to be a part of it.”
After receiving her award, Rosalyn continued to impact our network as a leader. When wearing her VVCP hat, Rosalyn manages the VVCP Facebook Group and has played an integral role in growing community engagement through sharing community-based events and articles. As of December 2018, the Facebook group has 623 members. In August, Rosalyn and VVCP planned and hosted Embracing Community—an event for community members to network with new people, learn self-care strategies, craft, and listen to beautiful violin music by a fellow network member, Kiyoshi Hayashi. VVCP leaders (Trayce Booth, Mary Greene, Maisha Harley, Soraya Harley, Elizabeth Neely and Josette Williams) were involved in every step of the process, including co-designing feedback forms. Feedback was used to guide the group’s debrief discussion and for future event planning. And to top off the year, Rosalyn’s leadership was crucial in the success of our Fifth Annual Leadership Summit through her involvement on the Executive Planning Committee.
As 2018 is coming to a close, we getting ready to honor our next Unsung Hero. Who will it be?
Our network has had an incredible year of co-hosted meetings, community lead initiatives, and deepening relationships with one another. From our bold Courageous Conversations in the cold of winter to celebrating mental health awareness month with 10 Days of Child and Family Wellness in the spring. As the summer set in, we brought the network together for a Innovations and Inspirations Night to create a space where network members could learn from each others creative and community-centered initiatives. And we dove deep this fall with our partners and community leaders at our Fifth Annual Leadership Summit, recognizing that local and national injustice must be met with collective power.
And none of this could have been accomplished without the passionate and fearless leadership of community leaders within the network. We have received many nominations for the committee to review and there are many leaders in our network pushing the needle on child health and wellbeing.
We look forward to unveiling the 2018 Unsung Hero at Vital Village Network Holiday Party at the Boston Children’s Museum this Friday, December 14th! In addition to honoring the Unsung Hero, we will celebrate network highlights from the past year and have social activities available for both adults and children.