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Eight local African-American Heroes saluted at HCC

For the fourth year, Halifax Community College (HCC) held its “Saluting Our Local African-American Heroes” celebration. Special honors were bestowed on six community leaders and two HCC students during the Feb. 17 ceremony held at The Centre.
 Heroes were chosen based on their commitment and contributions to the community, unselfish devotion to others, initiative, innovation and leadership, and willingness to share time and wisdom through community service. HCC student heroes were chosen based on their commitment and contributions to the HCC community, initiative, innovation and leadership, and demonstration of academic promise.

 “We wanted to focus our recognition on those unsung heroes who don’t get the press coverage… Their continuing contributions to our lives and the lives of the many people they serve are without a doubt worthy of recognition and they deserve the honors that we will bestow upon them today,” said HCC President, Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr. “Today, our celebration of African-American heroes is just that. It is a celebration of human kind in formal recognition of your contributions, seen and unseen, to the quality of life to all the people in the Roanoke Valley.”


About the Honorees

Lola Ausby

Volunteer Firefighter, Garysburg Fire Department

Joint Use Administrator, Dominion Power

Seeing a need for fire protection in her community, Lola Ausby began her firefighting career as a founding member of the Garysburg Volunteer Fire Department 29 years ago. She could be viewed as a trailblazer since she is one of the first area female firefighters. She has served as a certified firefighter, leader, secretary, and adoptive mother to the entire department. She helps with training and planning and has assisted with nationally conducted research. She can readily be found at fire scenes in her gear working diligently, often helping people she has never met.


Mrs. Ausby has worked for more than 20 years in the area’s power business. At Dominion Power, her most recent title is that of joint use administrator. Mrs. Ausby has been a leader in local government, serving as the assistant mayor of Garysburg and as the town’s financial officer. Plus, she is active as a member of Roanoke Salem Missionary Baptist Church. As to the question of how long she has been affiliated with this church, the only answer that could be heard from those who know her was a resounding “all of her life.” She has many accomplishments through the church including her current standing as chair for the board of deaconesses and as the Christian education administrator.


Gregory Lewis Browning

District Manager, Social Security Administration

Gregory Lewis Browning is the first African-American district manager of Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount, Ahoskie, and Wilson Social Security Administration. Since arriving in the Roanoke Valley, he has worked with area youth to mentor them and encourage them to attend college. Plus, he has guided them through the application process for scholarships and grants for college.


Mr. Browning served on the Exodus for Youth Incorporation Board, which provides role models and mentors for area youth. At the Halifax County Boys and Girls Club, he served as a board member.  He also served on the Halifax County Council on Aging to assist and serve the needs of senior citizens in the area. Presently, Mr. Browning is chairman of the Roanoke Rapids Planning Board. Also, he provides training for employees of Tri-County Industries in Rocky Mount and is a member of Rotary International.


Rev. Ralph P. Dailey

Executive Director, Weldon Day Care Center, Inc.

Rev. Ralph P. Dailey is the founder, operator, and executive director of Weldon Day Care Center, Inc. He made history by opening the first child care center in Weldon. On Oct. 1, 1980, the state of North Carolina—Child Day Care Licensing Office licensed Weldon Day Care Center to provide child care for 25 children. On Oct. 6, 1980, the center officially opened, providing child care, transportation, and nutritional meals and snacks for 16 children.  In 1992, Rev. Dailey opened One Step Child Developmental Center I and in 1995, he opened One Step Child Developmental Center II. The three facilities combined have a capacity to provide child care for 178 children. Since 1980, the centers have provided child care for more than 7,500 children in the Roanoke Valley area and surrounding counties. As an entrepreneur, Rev. Dailey has provided employment for over 31 years for more than 600 workers. Currently, he provides employment for 25 workers.


Rev. Dailey is the founder and pastor of God’s Church of Deliverance of the Apostolic Faith in Weldon, which was established in 1977. In 2008, he was one of the founders of Abundant Life Home Health Care Agency. Through this agency, care was provided for the sick, shut-ins, the elderly or anyone eligible for home health care and it has employed more than 100 workers. He also helped to get the Smart Start program developed for the county and served on the Rural Day Care Association Board. Finally, Rev. Dailey is one of the founders of Youth Empowered to Survive (Y.E.S.). The mission is to “take youth back from the streets and then to keep them off of the streets.”


Dorothy Highsmith

Board Member, Hobgood Citizen Group

Dorothy Highsmith has served as a board member for the Hobgood Citizen Group for more than 15 years. She has served as treasurer and was one of the founding members. She has been instrumental in the organization having a food bank for the community, health clinic, senior citizens club, exercise class, activity day, Headstart program, and after school and summer food programs. Mrs. Highsmith was runner-up in the Ms. Senior Pageant and appeared on WNCT Channel 9, which assisted in the purchase of the Thomas Shields School, now the Thomas Shields Community Center.


Mrs. Highsmith has served as a caretaker and has given her time to visit with many community citizens who lived alone. She cleaned, cooked, completed forms, shopped, washed and assisted with many needs. She still drives in the daytime and delivers food to the home bound. She has been a member of Cherry Chapel Church for more than 70 years and served as an usher for 40 of those years. Mrs. Highsmith and her husband (now deceased) were black farmers who provided many sharecroppers with employment. She assisted in the daily farm work with the production and selling of cotton, peanuts, tobacco and corn, and she also raised livestock.



Dorothy Joyner

Licensed Practical Nurse

Roanoke Valley Adult Day Care

Dorothy Joyner has a servant’s heart. She has committed countless hours, days and nights of her time to help those in need in various locations throughout Halifax and Northampton counties. She operates an outreach ministry with a main focus of serving others. Whether it’s providing meals to the elderly during the holiday season, operating a 24-hour, 7-days a week pantry, sponsoring bi-yearly clothing drives or just providing positive love and support to our area students and educators by providing school supplies and resources, Mrs. Joyner does it all for the betterment of our community. This past year, she has assisted 150 families with food and clothing. She assisted flood victims in Windsor with monetary donations and clothing. Mrs. Joyner has sponsored a young married couple with nine children, providing food, clothing, monetary gifts, aiding the couple with job searches, and making it possible for the children to have a memorable Christmas.


Also during Christmas, she donated gifts and food baskets to shut-ins, fed 67 elderly for Thanksgiving dinner, and provided clothes, gloves, and hats to children of single mothers. She visits homes and hospitals to see those who are sick, and prays with them. Mrs. Joyner sends cards out of town to families who need encouragement. Mrs. Joyner also oversees a Single Women’s Ministry that provides encouragement and support to women.


Rev. Jeremiah Webb

Committee Chairman

Executive Board Member

Neuse River Missionary Baptist Association

Rev. Jeremiah Webb has been involved in religious, political, civic and community affairs in Halifax, Northampton, Bertie and Hertford counties for many years. He is a member of the Neuse River Missionary Baptist Association, serves as chairman of the Ordination Committee, is a member of the General State Baptist Convention and the Ministers Alliance of Halifax and Northampton counties, and is a member of the Black Caucus on the local, state and national levels. He is also a member of the Political Action Committee and the NAACP on local and state levels and he has served as president of the NAACP of Halifax County and the People’s Program on Poverty of Halifax County.


Rev. Webb has received many awards for outstanding service to the community.  He was cited for being the director of the Finance Committee, State Baptist Convention of North Carolina; outstanding service to the people of Halifax County; and, NAACP president of Halifax County, among others. During the 81 years of his life, Rev. Webb has lived to witness changes in our country. With pride, dedication and distinction, he has faithfully served the citizens of Weldon and surrounding communities by his active participation in church and civic affairs.


Kiara Lee

Pre-Nursing/Nursing Student, Halifax Community College

Co-Chair, HCC Women of Excellence

Kiara Lee is one of the most committed persons at HCC. She works extremely hard when it comes to doing anything anyone asks of her at HCC. She recently was elected co-chair for Women of Excellence and was accepted into Phi Theta Kappa. Upon taking on the duties that come with being in both clubs, she still keeps her grades up and holds a full-time job. Ms. Lee shows leadership by being co-chair, which is the presidential position for Women of Excellence, and she is there whenever the group has to go somewhere, or whenever she is asked to help out in some way at the college. She is always there to show that she can help.



China Wade

Pre-LPN Student, Halifax Community College

President, HCC Student Government Association

China Wade serves as SGA president and is a major contributor in sponsoring new events on campus such as Give2theTroops, NC Food Bank Guinness Book of World Records, and the UNC-TV Festival. She can be found talking to students about the SGA, their challenges as college students, their ability to succeed, using herself as an example, or assisting with various HCC and community events such as the SACS accreditation visit, Christmas parades, Founder’s Day, and Breast Cancer Awareness, to name a few. 


Ms. Wade is the type of person who will see a project through from start to finish. When she was informed that she would not be a student worker this semester due to circumstances beyond her control, she continued to work as the Counseling Center assistant without pay. She serves as the ex-officio member of the HCC Board of Trustees. Ms. Wade is not afraid to bring forth new ideas, to ask questions, or receive and incorporate feedback. Plus, she is able to maintain a 3.5 GPA while performing all of her duties as SGA president and full-time curriculum student.

African-American Heroes 2011