The winner of the 2020 Diana Conn Good Neighbor of the Year Award is so committed to neighborhoods, she belongs to two neighborhood groups.
Anne Crais, a retired elementary school librarian, is an active member of the West Hills and the Wesley Friends community associations; she has served as secretary of the latter since 2012.
“Anne’s contributions through the years are numerous and never-ending,” neighbor and fellow board member Sandy Robinson wrote in her nomination of Crais. “Her energy in our neighborhood is bountiful. She does everything with grace, dignity and inclusiveness. Wesley Neighbors and West Hills are very fortunate and proud to have Anne Crais as a neighbor.”
In 2019, Crais engaged neighbors in the statewide Healther TN initiative, planning group events like bike rides and exercising. All told, participants walked more than 16,000 miles, and those efforts led to the group winning the Bronze Award and Anne receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award.
At a Neighborhood Recognition Dinner held July 23 at the future site of the Public Safety Building, Mayor Indya Kincannon presented proclamations to Crais and the other finalists who were honored for contributing their time, creativity and enthusiasm to improving their neighborhoods. Those finalists are:
• Jeff Johnson, Historic Fourth and Gill Neighborhood Association
Jeff is co-chair of the social committee for the Forth and Gill Neighborhood Organization. He plans events ranging from scavenger hunts and decorative spring bows, to fundraisers that bring the community together for both fun and purpose. He also plans grand potlucks to make sure his neighbors enjoy their neighborhood while having full bellies. Jeff is an impressive planner, dreamer, resource finder, and overall great asset to his community and neighbors. He was nominated by Chris Griffin.
• Kevin Jeske-Polyak, Southside Waterfront Association (SWFT)
A founding member of the Southside Waterfront NeighborhoodAssociation, Kevin is known by his neighbors as the “go to” person. He organizes social events aimed at welcoming new neighbors and new businesses and encouraging existing neighbors to support them. Kevin never stops creating ways to bring his neighbors together with events planned out for the spring and the summer. In a new, unique, and complex neighborhood, Kevin brings the welcoming feeling of a classic neighborhood. He was nominated by Toni Hass and Deborah Mallard.
• Beaetta Prater, Eastport/ Five Points Neighborhood Watch
Beaetta is a resident of the Five Points Complex. Although she is a caretaker for a disabled family member and has her own serious
health issues, she has served as secretary for the Lee Williams Tenants’ Association and has volunteered to help with Neighborhood Watch meetings. She runs her own Friday Movies ministry and was the first recipient of the Eric Hill Neighbor of the Year Award. She was nominated by Sylvia Cook.
All nominees demonstrated the qualities exemplified by the late Diana Conn, for whom the award was named and given posthumously. Members of the Old Sevier Community commended Conn as a generous, caring and devoted neighbor.