Caroline Kennedy: a president's daughter who has raised tens of millions for New York's public schools. Gladys Knight: a seven-time Grammy winner who has raised $3 million to fight diabetes. Gary Sinise: a CSI: New York actor who has sent school supplies to more than 200,000 Iraqui children. And … Portland's own Roslyn Hill. Each of these high achievers will receive a 2008 Inspire Award, from AARP The Magazine.
The annual awards, formerly known as Impact Awards, pay tribute to "10 extraordinary people age 50 and over who have made the world a better place through their innovative thinking, passion, and perseverance".
Hill was chosen for her leading role in the revitalization of Northeast Alberta Street. Hill, who was dubbed an "urban blight fighter" by the magazine, was among the first to see Alberta Street's potential and to put her own money, talent and energy into transforming the area from a down-at-heel struggling neighborhood into a thriving arts district where people can enjoy walking to visit shops and galleries.
The Inspire Awards will be presented at a luncheon next Saturday in Manhattan, New York. Also honored alongside Hill, Knight, Sinise and Kennedy will be: Liviu Librescu, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech who was killed in last spring's school shooting while holding off the gunman so his students could escape; teacher-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan; Edward Boyer, a pilot who founded Mercy Medical Airlift, a charity which has airlifted more than 25,000 patients this year; Cynthia Kenyon, a pioneering molecular biologist whose work promises to extend lives; Pete Garcia, affordable housing advocate and the CEO of development nonprofit Chicanos Por La Causa; and Helen Thomas, the fearless journalist who covered the White House for 39 years, and never failed to ask the difficult questions.
Roslyn Hill worked with architects to infuse her artistic vision into every building she touched on N.E. Alberta. When she opened "Shades of Color" coffee shop and art gallery in 1995, Hill didn't know it would be the start of a street renaissance. But she went on to buy and redesign several blocks, which now are street landmarks.
"I like designing things," she says of her work. " I like taking existing areas and designing them to conform better to their use, so they can be used well.
"I think probably my one concern is that Alberta would stay diverse and maintain the diversity that that neighborhood has."
AARP The Magazine is aimed at people aged 50 and over, which this month will include Caroline Kennedy. Kennedy turned 50 Nov. 27, and will be featured on the magazine's upcoming front cover.
"Ever since I was a little girl, people have told me that my father changed their lives, or that President Kennedy's inaugural challenge 'Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country' inspired a generation in the 1960s that transformed our nation with courage," she told the magazine. "To me that is one of his greatest legacies. Now, it is up to us to redefine that commitment for our time."