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Salem Native Honored With Charles Brown Award From Roanoke College

Laura Tucker, a lifelong Salemite, was honored with this year’s Charles Brown Award for her history of public service including mentoring students and bringing together the community to celebrate what is fun and unique about the city.

The award, presented at Roanoke College’s annual Salem Appreciation Breakfast, recognizes Salem residents who have made significant professional and civic contributions to the city’s quality of life. The award is named after Charles Brown, Roanoke College’s first dean and a former mayor of Salem. It was first presented in 1997.

Tucker serves her community both as a staffer with the Salem Water Department and as an instructional assistant in the Salem City Schools. She also volunteers with multiple initiatives.

Through Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia, a nonprofit that works with students, Tucker mentors Salem elementary schoolers and leads programs designed to introduce them to concepts about financial literacy, good citizenship, entrepreneurship, career paths and more. The organization, which works with community volunteers across a 17-county region, named Tucker its volunteer of the year in 2018.

When Tucker’s hometown was marking its 215th birthday, she co-founded a grassroots social media group called Salem215 that was dedicated to highlighting positive happenings around the city. The group worked to promote local businesses, organized community events, posted updates from city council meetings and compiled a comprehensive weekly calendar of “Things to Do in Salem.”

Tucker also is an advocate for Roanoke College’s “Toy Like Me” program, a partnership of faculty, students and staff that modifies toys so that children with disabilities and medical conditions can see positive reflections of themselves. Tucker not only donates to the program but also refers children to it and assists with modifying toys.

These many volunteer projects are something Tucker takes on “simply because she cares about Salem and wants to help affect a positive change,” according to a letter from a community member nominating her for the award. “Her hard work and her heart set her apart,” it continued.

The 2022 award was presented Wednesday morning at an event on campus attended by about 75 Roanoke College representatives, city leaders and community members.

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