Beautification Day uplifts community

by Shawn Nowlin

Winners – from left: Chris, Janet, Jammie and Jayden Smith “Family Values Award” winners with trophies.

On any given day, Strauss Park at 644 Westside Blvd. is a location where adults can be seen cooking food on the grill, networking with and financially backing local vendors, and supporting the youth whenever they display their creative talents.

All of the above and more occurred last Saturday (7/29) during the 2023 Roanoke Beautification Day. Now in its fourth year, the sponsored annual occasion provides an opportunity for city officials, RCPS students, residents, and visitors to beautify homes, parks, and neighborhoods side by side.

This year’s theme was “Hey Young World, the World is Yours.” From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 29, there were various community award presentations, a raffle and dance contest, and captivating performances that focused on highlighting the talents and aspirations of the youth in addition to a massive clean-up effort.

“By providing a platform for their creativity and expression, we aim to empower and uplift the youth, fostering a sense of unity and purpose,” Eric Sparrow, VP Executive Committee Member, said.

Beautification–photo top right: Paula Barnes of Aetna Better Health VA accepting the Beautification Day award.

He added, “We believe that by combining community engagement, volunteerism, and the celebration of our youth, the Roanoke Community Beautification Day represents the true spirit of togetherness and collective action. It serves as a reminder that when we come together for a common goal, we can create a healthier, safer, and more beautiful environment for all.”

The winner of the Family Values Award went to Jammie Smith, his wife Janet, and their two sons, Chris and Jayden. On what the award means to them, Jammie said, “It’s very humbling to be recognized for your efforts. What makes Beautification Day so special is everything that it represents. Seeing such a diverse crowd of all ages do their part to make a difference was a beautiful thing to experience.”

Event host Virginia Diverse Chamber of Commerce received a Proclamation from Mayor Sherman Lea who announced that moving forward, the last week of July will be recognized as Virginia Diverse Chamber of Commerce Small Business Week. Governor Youngkin also signed a Proclamation honoring National Roanoke Community Beautification Day that was presented by Senator David Suetterlein at the event.

Helping to make her community a cleaner place was too good an opportunity for Diamond Walker to pass up. “Strauss Park is one of my favorite places to visit in the city. In part, because the beautiful scenery never gets old. This event is a prime example of what can be accomplished when selfless people work together,” Walker said.  

All signs point to the fifth annual Beautification Day happening next July.

Family interacts with one of several vendors at Beautification Day held in Strauss Park on Saturday, July 29, 2023.