Can’t Wait Awards 40 ‘Hometown Heroes’ $2K Each

Oakvale’s Williby-Walker Named State Hometown Hero


OAKVALE W.Va. — An Oakvale resident was presented a check for $2,000 Tuesday for being named one of the state’s Hometown Heroes for her charitable work in the community.

Debra June Williby-Walker was one of 40 residents around the state to be awarded for their contributions to their communities through the West Virginia Can’t Wait program.

Stephen Smith, WV Can’t Wait co-chair, made the presentation and said the choice of Williby-Walker was an easy one for the selection committee from a pool of 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,” he said. “Mutual aid leader, mask-maker, gardener, and volunteer, Ms. Williby-Walker has been selected from the Mercer County area.”

Williby-Walker not only raises four grandchildren, she reaches out into the community with the Oakvale Area Outreach Team to help others in many ways including delivering books, organizing clothing drives, working on Mercer County Hunger Challenge, providing services for anyone in the community who is in need as well as getting involved in many community projects.

She is currently planning a beautification initiative as well as saving and restoring the historic train depot in Oakvale. The beautification program will include placing planters at the entrances to the “hollows” in the community.

But she is also quick to point out the volunteers in the team.

“It’s not just me,” she said of all the team, who also go out into the community to provide transportation to the elderly or bring them things they need but have no means to get them. “It’s one-on-one, door-to-door help.”

The team includes Cindy Neeley, Melanie Meadows, Allen Meadows, Kimberley Ballard, Ashley Neal, Mary Lester, and Jason Fisher, who are all officers, and teen leaders Jerraka Canterbury and Audrey Meadows.

“We have around 42 members but these are our officers that volunteer and physically work a lot on our community projects,” she said. “Karen Leathers from Harmony for Hope based in Mount Hope has collaborated with us on upcoming events and projects to connect the two communities.”

She praised her parents who, she said, raised her with a spirit to help the community. Her mother, Ginger, founded Oakvale’s annual Christmas lighting program and has always been involved in charity work.

Read the full article here.

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