Generation West Virginia announces finalists for the prestigious 2019 Beacon Award. Wesleyan graduate Lucy Godwin ’11 was named along with five other young community leaders throughout the state.
“The Beacon Award winners are doing the work that needs to be done for their communities,” said Natalie Roper, executive director of Generation West Virginia. “What they all have in common is this social entrepreneurial spirit. They want to be a part of making social change in their communities and are working with the communities and coming up with creative solutions,” she added.
Like other teachers and parents in her small, rural West Virginia community, Lucy Swecker Godwin ’11 had a problem with summers. “We did not have a public library in Beverly. It’s a small town, no stoplight or anything, and I knew that many of our students wouldn’t have transportation to the library in the summer months.”
She also knew many students fell behind on their reading skills when school was out. She came up with the idea of creating a bookmobile, found a nonprofit partner, and secured funding before the end of the school year in 2017.
“For the first two summers our bookmobile was actually our principal’s white Volvo SUV,” she said. With a caravan of vehicles, they added snacks, physical activities and a mobile farmers’ market operated with volunteers. Today they operate an old school bus that has been retrofitted into a library. The bookmobile makes 10 stops every Tuesday.
The Beacon Awards were launched through a partnership between Generation West Virginia and the One Foundation, a philanthropic group that supports a stronger, more inclusive economy in Central Appalachia and beyond. Together, both organizations wanted to spotlight and support West Virginians between 18 and 40 years of age who are leading an effort to create positive change at the street, town, regional or statewide level. Recipients will receive extensive support, networking and mentoring opportunities, and a $2,000 award.