$2,000 Award Honors West Virginians for their “Courage to Do What Needs Done”
The mission of WV Can’t Wait is to win a people’s government in the Mountain State, led by the West Virginians who work the hardest and bear the greatest burdens. In addition to a $2,000 award, Heroes receive free on-going leadership training and coaching, access to mental health and safety services, and a network of other folks who are making a difference. Each of the 40 Hometown Heroes was selected by a committee of volunteer leaders from around the state, from a pool of more than 115 nominations.
The committee used three criteria for selecting each Hero: the lives they changed in their communities, the courage they showed in standing up to the rich and powerful, and the willingness to be led by people who are normally kept out, put down, or criminalized.
Public health advocate Kayla McCoy and LGBTQ+ activism organization Greenbrier Valley Pride have been selected from the Greenbrier County area.
“We are a statewide organization that’s committed to winning a people’s government in the Mountain State. We want a government where the people who work the hardest and sacrifice the most are also the ones who get to write the laws. We believe that the people on the ground, that the people who are closest to the problem, are the ones who should be trusted to solve it,” said WV Can’t Wait Co-Chair Stephen Smith at the award ceremony.
“In every West Virginia town, there’s someone you can go to for help, no matter who you are. These folks don’t care about who your daddy was or what trouble you’re in. They don’t care about your age or your ability. They don’t answer to politicians or landlords or lawyers. Their cell phone is on all hours of the day. And if they don’t answer, they’ll always call you back. We call these people hometown heroes.”
About the Honorees:
- From Kayla McCoy’s nomination: “Never have I met someone more committed to serving others and supporting our communities. She displays with every step what it means to be a hero. Always by your side in a pinch, a friend to listen when no one else will, and someone to lean on when times get tough.” (Support Kayla’s work financially at PayPal.com/wabamitskayla)
- From Greenbrier Valley Pride’s nomination: “In 2021, a group of dedicated individuals created Greenbrier Valley’s first-ever Pride event in only 29 days. The parade and street festival featured state organizations, artists, and entertainers – and had over 500 attendees. The group now has a full board and is in the process of becoming a registered 501c3. As part of its mission, Greenbrier Valley Pride is going to continue an annual Pride event, work on advocacy at the state and local level, establish peer support groups for the LGBTQIA+ community, and build a scholarship fund for students in the Greenbrier Valley.” (Support GVP’s work financially at https://www.greenbriervalleypride.com/donate-venmo)
WV Can’t Wait volunteers designed the Hometown Hero Award program to be different from most grant-giving projects. Instead of long grant applications and restrictive budget reporting, WV Can’t Wait accepted nominations by text/email and offered “no-strings-attached” awards so groups could decide how best to use the funds based on need. Instead of recognizing professional advocates and large nonprofit organizations, WV Can’t Wait sought out people and groups who are making a difference without much money or connections. And instead of celebrating millionaires and celebrities with a ballroom gala, WV Can’t Wait will honor Hometown Heroes with a barbecue lunch from Dem 2 Brothers on Mar. 5 at their statewide Convention.