Baumgardner is 2020 Good Neighbor of the Year

The Wake Forest Human Relations Council (HRC) is pleased to announce Kenille Baumgardner as the 2020 Good Neighbor of the Year. Mayor Vivian Jones announced Baumgardner as this year’s recipient during a special video presentation recorded last week and posted Saturday on the Town of Wake Forest Facebook page.  

Baumgardner was nominated by Julie Arthur, Sheila MacPherson and Tori Bennett, along with recent Good Neighbor of the Year award winners Tilda Caudle (2019) and Joy Shillingsburg (2018). In their nomination narratives, all emphasized Baumgardner’s dedication to the community and positive impact on the lives of Wake Forest residents through serving and volunteering.

“I have noticed that whenever need arises, so does her name,” wrote MacPherson. “In fact, she seems to appear whenever a volunteer is needed.”

Calling Baumgardner “an inspiration,” Arthur noted the range of local initiatives in which this year’s winner is involved.

“I have known Kenille since she came to Wake Forest 50 years ago,” wrote Arthur. “She has always been dedicated – to children at Wake Forest Elementary; to the community through her work with Habitat (for Humanity); to many social and political causes; to the environment through her work with Creation Care at St. John’s; and always to friends and neighbors in all parts of Wake Forest. Kenille has an open heart and the willingness and energy to take on hard work for our town!”

Shillingsburg wrote that Baumgardner, a retired educator, is “a friend to all” and “exemplifies the best of Wake Forest.”

“She continues to live her passion for learning, caring for others, teaching children, fighting for social justice and working hard to make our Town and world a better place,” noted Shillinsburg.

“I have worked with Kenille building homes for Habitat for Humanity, cleaning and rehabbing the homes and properties on community work days, served countless meals to the food insecure in our Town and many other projects that Kenille quietly and diligently devotes herself to. In addition to her dedication to Habitat for Humanity and the Summer Nutrition Program, she has been a leader for the Town’s CROP Walk for over 30 years. Kenille has tutored at the Hope House, is an active and proud Kiwanis (Club) member, a long-time member and leader at her church, and she personally cares for and connects with members of the community that she knows are in need. Kenille lives her beliefs by generously donating her time and resources to countless local causes that she believes will make Wake Forest a better place to live for generations to come. I admire her work ethic, curiosity, love of travel, and her kindness. She is dependable and a friend to all.”

Caudle’s narrative acknowledged Baumgardner’s “heart to volunteer,” along with her work with Habitat for Humanity, the Summer Nutrition Program and commitment to the Northeast Community.

“She is very well known and respected in the Northeast Community as a former school teacher by her past students and parents,” wrote Caudle. “Her actions of care, love and concern for others’ well-being, goes beyond my words.”

The HRC solicits Good Neighbor of the Year nominations for one adult and one youth each year from April through August, then typically announces the winners during Good Neighbor Day. This year, the HRC did not receive any nominations for the youth award that met the submission requirements. Also, due to COVID-19, this year’s Good Neighbor Day was canceled. 

To view the award presentation, visit the homepage of the Town website at

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