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Bill Kirby Jr.: Reaching out, and making the community better for others


There’s something to be said for this day.

And no one may say it better than Vera Bell, who will be one of four recipients of the 2022 CityView Power of Giving Community Impact Awards presented by the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

The awards luncheon, with state Sen. Kirk deViere as the keynote speaker, is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. at Segra Stadium. The senator will deliver impassioned words about the gift of the heart that will resonate with all.

“We need to leave this world better than it was while we were here,” Bell tells our Michael Futch in this month’s edition of CityView Magazine. “It just needs to be done, so I do it. I don’t mind doing it. And you don’t have to tell anyone that I did it.”

You can’t help but admire Bell’s humility.

But to the contrary, Mrs. Bell, and forgive us all the same.

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Here at CityView Media, we are storytellers, and telling the stories this day of Vera Bell, retired Sgt. Maj. Ruby Murray, and Dr. Wes and Lucy Jones, all of whom put either their time, caring ways or financial support where their hearts make a difference in this community.

They are not alone.

Past recipients are Pornjai Smith, Kim Molnar, Steve Milburn and the late Judy Klinck in 2021 and Jelisa Montalvo, Milton “Levi” Underwood, Robert Elliott and Danny Sealy in 2020.

“When you do things for people, you can change their lives,” Pornjai “PJ” Smith told our Janet Gibson last year about her restaurant downtown, where she always has had a passionate heart to feed the hungry and clothe those struggling in life.

They call her the “godmother of Person Street.”

Jelisa Montalvo inherited giving ways from her late grandmother, delivering meals during any crisis, whether a hurricane or the COVID-19 pandemic or a single mother trying to feed her family.

“When I was a little girl, I would ride with my grandmother, and we would deliver boxes of food to older women in the Savoy Heights neighborhood,” Montalvo said in 2020. “Whether they were members of our church or people she would meet in the grocery store who were in need, I can remember us doing this almost every weekend.”

Montalvo believes in assisting others with her commitment to caring and reaching out.

Dorothy McGeachern would be proud of her granddaughter.

‘Always giving back’

And here at CityView Media, we take pride this day in honoring a third class of community givers in Vera Bell and her volunteer work with United Way, Connections of Cumberland County, Better Health of Cumberland County, and her Smith Chapel Free Will Baptist Church and other organizations; Ruby Murray, the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor at South View High School, where Murray inspires her young cadets to be their best; and Lucy and Wes Jones, who give generously to the Cumberland Community Foundation, Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation, Connections of Cumberland County and the Women’s Giving Circle, among others.

We are not alone in that pride.

“PWC and our employees give of their time and resources to make a difference in our community,” says Mick Noland, interim chief executive officer and general manager of the locally owned PWC. “We are proud to support programs that make Fayetteville a great place to live. We are especially proud to support the CityView Power of Giving Community Impact Awards because those recognized are our friends and neighbors, and we get to personally see the powerful impact of their work.”

Sen. deViere will look out this day on the faces of Vera Bell, Ruby Murray, Wes and Lucy Jones, and deViere will see in his mind’s eye the face of Eva Tow, the mother who died at age 71 on Nov. 14, 2015, and her lifelong words to a son.

“As I read the citation for Vera Bell, I was reminded of the same influence that my mother had on me in shaping my service to community,” he says. “I will never forget her words to me about ‘always giving back,’ and to never forget where you came from.”

The senator this day will pay tribute to community givers and volunteers such as Vera Bell who never turn their backs on giving of themselves for the best of what a community can be.


There is, without doubt, something to be said for this day.

And no one may say it better than Vera Bell.

“We need to leave this world better than it was while we were here.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Fayetteville, Community Impact Awards. Vera Bell, Bill Kirby Jr.