Veronica Shoemaker named Hodges University Luminary Award recipient
Community activist Veronica Shoemaker has been named Hodges University first ever Luminary Award recipient.
The Luminary Award recognizes a local citizen who personifies society’s most valued human characteristics and thus has moved society in a positive way, serving as a distinguished example of the virtues of perseverance, honesty, moral character and charity.
Born and raised in Fort Myers, Shoemaker graduated from Dunbar High School in 1949. She attended college, taking courses in business, tax preparation and psychology. She also took courses in interior and landscape design and floral arranging, opening her own florist business in 1974.
Shoemaker became active in civil rights activities while president of the PTA in the early 1960s. She served as president of the NAACP in Fort Myers and relinquished this position when she ran for public office. She ran unsuccessfully for 16 years, campaigning for any available seat, including the county commission, city council, school board and hospital board. She was ultimately elected in 1982, becoming the first African American-elected official in Fort Myers, man or woman. She served with distinction for 26 years, and when she left office, she left a legacy of goodwill and many incredible accomplishments.
She has promoted the health and welfare of the community at large, establishing the Source of Light and Hope Development Center in 1988, a home for abused and neglected children. She also established the Palm Seniors Citizens Home and has worked with the Fort Myers Housing Authority to provide newly constructed, single-family homes for low income families in the Dunbar community.
She also established the Veronica Shoemaker Charity Services organization to serve the needy of the community and has been instrumental in setting up a Charter School and a Life Skills Center in a vacant supermarket shopping center in Fort Myers. She has worked tirelessly to improve the Dunbar community, promoting a drug-free environment for the youth with the establishment of the Stars Sports Complex.
In 2007, she saw the realization of one of her many community projects, the construction of a north-south corridor linking East Fort Myers to Colonial Boulevard and further south, as it was named Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd.
“Mrs. Shoemaker has worked tirelessly for close to 60 years to improve the Fort Myers community,” said Dr. Terry McMahan, president of Hodges University, in a prepared statement released Thursday. “Her drive and determination is truly inspirational for not only the students of Hodges University, but for us all, and we are proud to honor her for her service.”
For her outstanding involvement and dedication to our community, and for making a significant contribution of leadership and service that has improved and enriched the lives of so many residents of our community, Hodges University is pleased to honor Veronica Shoemaker as its 2010 Luminary Award winner.
Shoemaker will be formally recognized at a luncheon on Wednesday, February 3, 2010. The event will be held at the Pelican Preserve Golf Club in Fort Myers at at 11 a.m. For more information or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, call 239-938-7826.