Two former newspaper colleagues were feted last tonight for their inclusion as metropolitan Richmond’s best, brightest and most beautiful-in-spirit residents. Stacy Hawkins Adams and Osita Iroegbu were among Style Weekly’s 40 under 40, an annual honor that celebrates young movers and shakers, some known, others out of the spotlight until now. The class of 2010 rocks. Not a weak link in this impressive, diverse bunch.
Stacy, an author, writing coach, speaker and advocate for children, is a petite powerhouse who just gets it done. Humble and a bit shy with a lovely smile, she exudes fierceness when it comes to creating blueprints to construct her dreams. In the four years since she left daily journalism, she has written sixe books, founded the Richmond chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers and started a coaching program for aspiring authors. That’s only a taste of her jam-packed resume. She is an awesome mother to two children I wish I could clone and wife to a man who matches her in warmth and kindness. I am proud to call her a friend and a role model. She may be younger, but I learn something about resilience, grace and sincerity every time we talk. She is the real deal.
So is Osita, a woman with a Nigerian Father and African-American mother whose passion is community building and education. She walks the talk. Raised in Richmond public housing, she didn’t do like many others with the same background: move out, move up and move emotionally far away. This public relations and marketing manager for the Richmond Development and Housing Authority has started a mentoring program with Virginia State University for girls in the same public housing community she grew up in. The fact that all seven of her siblings have either graduated from college or are attending college is one more reason her life story should be a movie. Listening Hollywood? She also credits my husband, Mike, as her mentor.
Stacy and Osita represent just a fraction of the dynamic talent at the awards dinner, where I fought back tears as awe-inspiring recipients were introduced. Some people find the “40 under 40” list demoralizing when using it as barometer of their own accomplishments. I found being surrounded by such driven individuals uplifting and spiritually refreshing. Each recipient demonstrates compassion and an unquenchable need to make a difference. If you can call some of them friends then you are in stellar company.
One of the best perks of the evening was that I nominated Stacy and Mike nominated Osita. Neither one of us knew the other had done so until after we learned our nominees had been selected last month. We were tickled that our choices became part of the class of 2010. Also, we were touched by the insight and thoughtfulness of each other. Last night I celebrated the outstanding company I am blessed to keep — outside my home — and in it each day.