Susan Hesselgesser, league executive director, said she hopes the award “will help them with the work they are doing in their communities. These women are a ray of hope (and) maybe our award will lead to more support for them in the future.”
Lynn LaMance and Victoria McNeal, both of Dayton, received the Jo Columbro Environmental Award on Thursday from The League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area. The two women were honored for fighting crime and blight in their North Main Street area neighborhood. LYNN HULSEY/Staff
McNeal and LaMance patrol the neighborhood and alleyways, picking up trash, reporting open vacant buildings that need boarded, painting over graffiti, and talking to prostitutes about getting help for drug addiction. LaMance regularly emails property owners about dilapidated buildings needing repaired.
RELATED: Vacant houses add to blight, slow recovery efforts
“These two ladies, they’re the perfect citizens,” said Montgomery County Phil Plummer at the awards ceremony. “Because we always tell people, please be our eyes and our ears and help us out. They’re living in a very tough neighborhood that we can bring back.”
The Dayton Daily News investigated the deaths of five women, four of whom were found within blocks of each other on Ernst, Hudson and Norman avenues, and the fifth on Superior Avenue, between June 2017 and January 2018. The coroner declared three of them to be homicides, one an overdose and one an undetermined cause of death. Dayton Police continue to investigate and Crime Stoppers offered a reward for information on the homicides after the newspaper’s investigation was published.
RELATED PHOTOS: The bodies of five women. Four found in a drug-infested neighborhood. Dayton struggles for answers
Feldman and Adams received their Dangerous Dames of Dayton awards at the league’s annual fundraiser, held at the NCR Country Club. They are the 16th and 17th recipients of the award.
In her acceptance speech Feldman said she wanted to draw attention to the needs of children and the state’s poor national ranking for infant mortality and childhood immunizations, the growing mental health needs for children, declining access to health care, the rate of gun violence involving children and the need for more early childhood education.
RELATED: Not just the ‘boys club:’ Local women health executives earn top pay
“Only 40 percent of Ohio’s kids come to kindergarten ready for success,” Feldman said, who previously served as Montgomery County administrator. “And many of our school children will never catch up.”
She urged people to support the new Vote for Ohio’s Kids initiative, founded by Ohio’s childrens’ hospitals and Groundworks Ohio, which seeks to drive a “kid’s first” agenda beginning with the 2018 Ohio gubernatorial campaign.
“Our children have no voice. They have no vote. But we do,” Feldman said.
The group will invite all candidates for governor to a forum in Columbus on Sept. 27.
Adams, who brought her gold medal for people to see, said she had been raised to “try to do the very best that I could do.”
“Dreams are made,” said Adams.
RELATED: History Extra: Lucinda Williams Adams
Raised in Savannah, Georgia, she said she did not have the same opportunities today’s girls have. But she recalled being told, “if you are willing to listen and to learn and to work hard and use your God-given talent you will be able to make a difference.”
Adams said she felt she had done that in her years working for Dayton Schools. She fought for equal pay for the women’s team coaches and said that when she “fought hard to get sex education they called me the ‘sex lady’” but it didn’t stop her from advocating for that curriculum.
Years down the road people won’t remember a person’s money or possessions, said Adams, “but they will remember if you touched their lives.”
More stories by Lynn Hulsey
Two drug deaths from one family. Says mom: ‘It was like living in hell’
RELATED: Women fighting to clean up Dayton neighborhood win award
Pregnant females have local jails scrambling to provide care
Groups like the KKK preach white power but shun ‘hate’ label