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VCU recognizes longtime community advocate Barbara Abernathy, a driving force in the Carver-VCU Partnership

Barbara Abernathy addresses supporters during a reception recognizing her many years of community service in Richmond's Carver neighborhood. Abernathy, who retires as president of the Carver Area Civil Improvement League in January, was instrumental in developing the Carver-VCU Partnership with University President Eugene P. Trani. Photo by Ash Daniel, VCU Creative Services
Barbara Abernathy addresses supporters during a reception recognizing her many years of community service in Richmond's Carver neighborhood. Abernathy, who retires as president of the Carver Area Civil Improvement League in January, was instrumental in developing the Carver-VCU Partnership with University President Eugene P. Trani. Photo by Ash Daniel, VCU Creative Services

Virginia Commonwealth University President Eugene P. Trani, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and a group of neighborhood and community leaders recognized outgoing Carver Area Civic Improvement League President Barbara Abernathy for decades of service to the community. 

Abernathy was honored during a reception Dec. 4 at VCU’s Scott House.

Abernathy has been an active member of her community since the early 1980s, first with the West of Belvidere Civic Association and later with the Carver Area Civic Improvement League, or CACIL. Within CACIL, she took on a number of leadership positions, ultimately serving as president for the past 14 years.  Abernathy will step down in January 2007. 

In 1996, Abernathy approached VCU about establishing a partnership that would benefit the Carver neighborhood and the university.  In an agreement with President Trani, the Carver-VCU Partnership was established.  Abernathy has served as co-chair of the partnership for 11 years and led the effort to improve neighborhood safety and planning, develop programs for youth and seniors and create better housing and health care opportunities.

“This is an exemplary university-community partnership,” Trani said. “On behalf of a grateful community and on behalf of a grateful partner, I want to say thank you for everything you’ve done.”

Kaine worked with Abernathy extensively during his time on Richmond City Council and as Richmond’s mayor.

“This city, not just the neighborhood but the entire city, is a much better place because of you and all of your hard work,” Kaine said.  

VCU President Eugene P. Trani, Gov. Tim Kaine and Barbara Abernathy listen as longtime colleagues recall Abernathy's many years of service, hard work and dedication to the Carver neighborhood. Photo by Ash Daniel, VCU Creative Services
VCU President Eugene P. Trani, Gov. Tim Kaine and Barbara Abernathy listen as longtime colleagues recall Abernathy's many years of service, hard work and dedication to the Carver neighborhood. Photo by Ash Daniel, VCU Creative Services

One colleague described Abernathy as the neighborhood’s “backbone.” Another recalled her as someone who would “correct us lovingly,” which brought laughs from the crowd.
 
After a standing ovation, Barbara Abernathy had the last word.  She made it clear that while she is stepping down as CACIL president, she will remain active in the community.

“You do work but you don’t expect these kinds of accolades for what you do.  You do it because you love it.  I love Carver.  It’s a beautiful community, a loving and caring community,” Abernathy said. “The best is yet to come.”