For devotion to strengthening communities and neighborhoods, Carolyn DeVoe has been named the 2023 recipient of the Linda & Jerry Vandeveer Impact Award.
The Allen County Board of Commissioners, along with the award’s namesake, Jerry Vandeveer, presented the award Monday morning, September 25, 2023, during a ceremony held at Citizen Square. Mrs. DeVoe was joined by a crowd that included Fort Wayne firemen, elected officials, city and county employees, family, and friends.
Commissioner Nelson Peters shared, “Carolyn DeVoe has been a neighborhood advocate for nearly half a century. As we share about the impact she has made, you will see a common thread woven throughout – and that is improving and strengthening neighborhoods.”
Carolyn DeVoe’s lifetime of community advocacy began in the late 1970’s when she observed semi-trucks using neighborhood streets to make deliveries to local grocery stores. She noted that the practice threatened the safety of residents but also infrastructure. Backed by local residents, she worked with grocery store owners to ensure semis traveled on designated truck routes across town. It was through this effort that Mrs. DeVoe experienced the power of unified neighbors to enact positive change.
Since 1988, Mrs. DeVoe has volunteered with the Southwest Area Partnership and its neighborhoods. She has served on the Rental Housing Task Force, Truck Task Force, Sign Task Force, Animal Care and Control Dog Bite Task Force, and helped initiate the formation of the Sewer Task Force. She continues to serve on the Neighborhood Code Safe Housing and Oversight Board as she has for several decades. During her award acceptance speech, Mrs. DeVoe urged the next generation to continue the work of hands-on community advocacy.
In September 2016, the Allen County Commissioners created the award to present annually to an individual or individuals who reside in Allen County and who have lived a life of service to our community outside of their regular profession in the example and tradition set by Linda and Jerry Vandeveer. The Vandeveers are probably best known for their work in creating and maintaining the Allen County Law Enforcement/Firefighters Memorial on North Wells Street; however, they have also been tireless advocates for police and firefighters as well as catalysts for positive change in the Baker-Fairfield neighborhood and beyond.
Community members may submit nominations for qualified candidates each August on allencounty.in.gov.
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