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‘Community Champions’ honored at annual Neighborhood Summit

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Smiles, lively conversations and high spirits were in abundance Tuesday at the 14th annual Neighborhood Summit, hosted by the Germantown Neighborhood Preservation Commission.
Around 200 residents attended the event, which celebrated Germantown’s history, parks and strong sense of community.
One highlight of the evening was the annual awards ceremony for Neighborhood of the Year, Neighbor of the Year and Neighborhood Leader of the Year.
• Neighborhood of the Year: Dogwood Grove
Dogwood Grove won the 2022 Neighborhood of the Year award. “We are thrilled!” said Dogwood Grove Homeowners Association President Rees Hodges. “Our neighborhood is composed of some of the best neighbors in Germantown and it shows.”
Hodges also shared some of Dogwood Grove’s keys to success.
“Involvement and inclusivity are key ingredients to a successful community,” he said. “Dogwood Grove holds many social events throughout the year and offers access to many clubs for neighbors to join. There’s something for everyone. The feeling of belonging and a sense of pride leads to being an award-winning neighborhood.”
For those neighborhoods vying for the title of Neighborhood of the Year in 2023, Hodges offered some advice.
“Other neighborhoods looking to achieve Neighborhood of the Year status should consider keeping their community involved through regular newsletters and social events, as well as keeping common areas neatly maintained.”
Aside from his neighborhood, Hodges said there’s no place he and his family would rather live than Germantown.
“One aspect about living in Germantown that I like best is that Germantown keeps its citizens’ best interests front and center,” he said. “This especially shows in the response time of our emergency responders.”
• Neighbor of the Year: Doris Brewer, Neshoba North
Doris Brewer of Neshoba North won the 2022 Neighbor of the Year award. Brewer is a founding member of the Neshoba North Association – an entirely volunteer organization – and is active in many aspects of the neighborhood.
“Doris is an extraordinary volunteer who serves from her heart,” wrote Neshoba North Neighborhood Association Secretary Twyla Dixon in her nomination letter. “She loves her city, her neighborhood, this organization and she loves her neighbors.”
Among Brewer’s many activities, she’s chairperson of the neighborhood’s Good Neighbor Committee, which delivers services such as meals, lawn care, house cleaning and transportation to neighbors who are ill, recovering, grieving or in need.
“Doris is the first to volunteer to assist with any project or need brought before the organization,” Dixon said.
Equally admirable, Brewer brings an all-around friendly spirit to Neshoba North.
“Since Doris and her husband Bob have lived in the neighborhood for many years, she is personal friends with many people in the area and is aware of people moving out and new families moving in,” Dixon said. “She makes a concerted effort to get to know each one.”
• Neighborhood Leader of the Year: Sue Burnett, Sweet Oaks Homeowners Association
Sue Burnett, secretary of the Sweet Oaks Homeowners Association (SOHA), won Neighborhood Leader of the Year.
“I feel very honored to be named the Neighborhood Leader of the Year. My husband, Michael, and I love our Sweet Oaks neighborhood, and we’ve served as officers for the neighborhood association at different times,” Burnett said. “He has inspired me, offered advice, helped mentor new officers, led projects and been a good role model for me. I definitely share this honor with him.”
Janice Ragsdale Henderson, president of SOHA, describes Burnett as a leadership role model herself.
“Sue Burnett is a tenacious SOHA board member,” Henderson said. “She is the steadfast leader in the Sweet Oaks community who utilizes her experience and optimism to ensure the residents’ confidence in the SOHA board.”
Henderson said Burnett has a strategic mindset and adapts quickly to evolving neighborhood needs, while also being passionate about consistently keeping the neighborhood updated and informed.
Burnett, a resident of Sweet Oaks for 20 years and a resident of Germantown for 37 years, says she’s guided by the values of servant leadership and a love for her community.
“I’ve always tried to be a team player who works side-by-side with my fellow officers and volunteers,” she said. “I strive to be a good listener so I can be aware of the needs and wants of the residents.”
Her advice for emerging neighborhood leaders is to build relationships, encourage participation and foster a sense of belonging.
“I believe that recruiting new people to be officers is vital to bring new ideas and energy to a neighborhood association,” she said. “My husband and I particularly enjoy walking in the neighborhood on a regular basis to get to know the neighbors better. It’s always fun to meet and greet new neighbors when they move in, to help them feel part of the neighborhood.”

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