Bridge Builders Awards Given Out

By: Venton Blandin
By: Venton Blandin

September 21, 2006

The City of Charlottesville honored four of its residents for bringing the community together. The annual recognition is made in the spirit of Drewary J. Brown, a Charlottesville civil rights leader and activist, who died in 1998.

Brown was known for reducing racial barriers and enriching the lives of everyone in the city. Honored were Elizabeth Gleason, Dr. Charles Gleason, and William Washington, Jr. A posthumous award was given to Virginia Carrington. All represent different backgrounds.

"You'll find a preacher, an educator, a shoe store owner, and a developer," said Bridge Builder Committee Member Virginia Dougherty.

"I have received a lot of support, a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of grace," said Bridge Builder Award Recipient William Washington.

Those three things have helped William Washington make a difference in Charlottesville.

Once known for not always doing what is right, and for running into the court system from time to time, Washington is now known as a '2006 Bridge Builder'.

"I feel very honored to receive it because I know the people before me have had a huge impact in our community," added Washington.

Washington has made his impact by running a ministry for people just released from prison.

He was nominated for the Bridge Builder Award, by of all people, a judge he met while standing before him in a court room. Washington asked his wife if he deserved the award because the judge gave him a chance in the past.

"My life has been changed, and to go back and give what has been given to me freely, and to receive an award for it; the questions would come up," added Washington.

It is clear to everyone attending the award ceremony that William Washington does deserve the award. Only 42 years old, Washington is the youngest to ever get the award, given to those who work to reduce barriers and enrich the lives of all city residents.

Washington is clear in understanding what the Bridge Builder Award really means.

"When I receive this, I don't receive it for me. I receive it for the community who say not only can we build this bridge, but we can do more together," added Washington.

The Bridge Builders Awards are given in the spirit of Drewary J. Brown whose name is on the bridge on West Main street in Charlottesville. The plaques with the awardees' name line the railing along the bridge.

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