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Neighborhood Heroes are Everywhere in St. Louis

At the 2014 SLACO Regional Neighborhood Conference on November 1, SLACO honored three Neighborhood Heroes:  James McKee of the Marine Villa neighborhood, David Godbout from Benton Park, and Amber Cole from Fairground.  Here is what the nominations said about these splendid leaders.

Award Recipient: James McKee
Why This Person Is a Hero:

James McKee was pivotal in the rebirth of the Marine Villa Neighborhood Association after it suffered a period of dormancy. In this year we have regularly packed our meeting halls and seen tremendous involvement from all facets of the neighborhood. James steers the group with open minded and inclusiveness, being caring and thoughtful and valuing all opinions and sides. He works hard to hear all voices in our neighborhood and actively seeks out new members in all facets of social media and on every street in our community. He helped spearhead the organizing of all Cherokee neighborhood associations to meet regularly together resulting in monthly happy hours that are very excitedly attended by members of all adjoining neighborhoods. He works tirelessly volunteering on beautification projects such as the planters along S. Broadway and organizing cleanups on the highway ramps. He serves with other organizations such as Dutchtown South and CBBA. As an early adopter and super promoter of Nextdoor, he actively pursues getting all of our members on Nextdoor and we are proud winners of the “Nextdoor Neighborhood Champions” award this in year, in large part due to James’ efforts. He maintains a communicative and effective relationship with our aldermen and NSO’s and always works in positive manner for the betterment of the community. He is often called on as a moderator to ease tensions in not only our neighborhood but in bordering communities. He regularly takes time to meet and introduce people and goes above and beyond to make sure everyone feels comfortable and welcome at all of our events. He always promotes our neighborhood businesses and is an inclusive ambassador for MV and all things south side and relentless in his efforts in improvement. Our neighborhood would not be the same without is calm and collected leadership and we owe a large amount of our successful momentum to his continuous efforts. Many people took time to contribute to this narrative, as James always takes time for our community. He is a Community Hero in every way.

Award Recipient:  David Godbout - Volunteer Extraordinaire
Why This Person Is a Hero:

Where do we begin? David is one of the most selfless people we have ever met, and Benton Park could not be more lucky to have him. When there is no one else available to do something, David somehow makes time for it. A few years ago, he took on the role of Event Co-Chair. He organizes and executes our events in the park, and he's known for bringing a dozen extra helpers along - groups of teenagers traveling through town with a church, willing to help out a community they don't know. When he does this, David isn't just helping out his neighbors and community, he's teaching at the same time. He's not only there "the day of," but he is also the guy hanging 'No Parking' signs the week before, getting our events permits, and taking down the same 'No Parking' signs after everyone else has gone home. He may "jokingly" complain, but we know that he has a passion for the success, safety, livelihood, and community of this little neighborhood in South City St. Louis. He is the Pastor of his own church, so we cannot fathom the number of commitments he makes outside of the neighborhood organization, and we're not entirely sure if he has the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. His life is dedicated to making better people and communities, and we think we might be the luckiest community of them all to have him. THANK YOU DAVID!

Award Recipient:  Pastor Amber Cole
Why This Person Is a Hero:

Perry and Amber Cole have for the past 3 year taken children in the 2000 block of Fair into their home to teach them social skills through biblical principles such as conflict resolution; self imaging and communication skill. They have shown movies in their back yard and hosted neighborhood gathering. Pastor Cole is a member of the Neighborhood Accountability Board. She and others serve with the department of probation or parole in assisting those that are on probation or parole.  They encourage offender accountability by increasing community involvement and support to the offender, letting the offender know that they care about them as well as their neighborhood. Pastor Cole serves those that are in law enforcement by being their Chaplain, someone they can speak with when they are facing some of the difficult thing they encounter. Pastor Cole also serves with the HMCA-Homicide Minister Community Alliance. This agency serves families that are faced with a sudden death that occurs at the hands of another. It is their hope to reduce retaliation and show compassion to the victim’s family.


You probably know a Neighborhood Hero.  This person doesn't push over buildings with one hand or wave a magic wand to eliminate all your problems.  But the Neighborhood Hero does pick up trash day after day, volunteer tirelessly in your neighborhood office, continue in the thankless job of being president of the neighborhood association despite senseless controversies and endless criticism, invest his or her time and money in rehabbing buildings one by one, run your auction or clean-up day year after year, or just walk around the neighborhood looking cheerful, greeting dogs, and relating to the children.

It's time that ordinary people who make an extraordinary difference in your neighborhood receive a little recognition.   Thanks to all of you who submitted nominations, each of whom makes an outstanding contribution to our metropolitan area.