Unsung Heroes work to save, improve their communities in big and small ways 48 will be honored at ceremony today

December 07, 1996|By Claudia Moessinger | Claudia Moessinger,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

When Henrietta Mosley learned that her elderly neighbor's home was being seized by the city for failure to pay an alley repair bill, she took action. Mosley, then 65, went to City Hall and eventually Annapolis to testify for legislation to prevent other senior citizens from losing their homes that way.

"I consider my neighbors my family, and we watch out for each other," said Mosley, 75, whose name is on the law that was passed. "To think they were going to seize her home over a matter of less than $100 is a disgrace."

Mosley is one of 48 men and women, mostly from the Mondawmin area of West Baltimore, who will be honored today RTC at Coppin State College for their contributions to their community.

This is the first year for the "Unsung Hero" awards, says the sponsor, state Sen. Ralph M. Hughes.

"These people haven't given up, they refuse to leave the city, they just keep on fighting," said Hughes. "Without these people, the neighborhoods wouldn't have a chance."

Nathaniel Devoe, 50, is another honoree. When he learned of plans to close the Gwynn Falls Elementary School, he launched a successful campaign to keep it open. "Busing the kids to other schools would have been a heavy burden to the parents," he said.

Devoe and other members of the Panway Neighborhood Improvement Association, a group he co-founded in 1981, work for better streets, traffic signals and street signs. He's chairman of the neighborhood Christmas program and tree lighting ceremony.

He said he hopes the "Unsung Hero" award will give other people in the community something to strive for.

"We must build a strong community to set an example for the young people so they can move forward in life," said Devoe. "Oth- erwise they're just poor people going nowhere."

Mosley's dedication to her community was sparked after a walk home from church in 1977. "There was so much trash and litter on the street, I had to push it away with my cane," said Mosley, who lives on Woodbrook Avenue.

Mosley was suffering from excruciating back pain from three disks that ruptured in 1968. For the next nine years, her mental and physical condition deteriorated.

"But one day, I said, 'Girl, are you going to live or die?' " She $$ chose life and soon formed the Woodbrook Neighborhood Association to clean the streets and rebuild neighborhood pride.

She spearheaded an effort to beautify the neighborhood with flowers. During the summer she watched over children as they watered the flowers and swept the streets, rewarding them with spending money she had raised.

On Thanksgiving, she made food baskets for the sick and elderly. After raising three boys and two girls, she donated their clothes to the needy.

But this past year, back pain and a heart condition have forced Mosley to slow down. "I hate to be inactive. It plucks my nerves," she said.

Other members of the association have taken over many of her efforts. But Mosley remains the president and continues to write a monthly newsletter.

"I'm just grateful that the Lord has blessed me to be here for this many years," she said. "I don't feel I need any honor. I do these things because I love people and I love where I live."

Pub Date: 12/07/96

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