Conner Wins Stevens Award for Soup Kitchen Leadership

2018 Humanitarian Award Winners


The Human Relations Commission gave its highest honor to Neill Conner, who mobilizes hundreds of people to fight hunger in Wilson.

Conner, volunteer director of the Community Soup Kitchen, received the Paul Lee Stevens Humanitarian of the Year during the 47th Human Relations Awards Banquet, held Friday, Feb. 23, at Darden Alumni Center.

Renee Smith, the city’s Human Relations officer, told the large crowd that Conner is responsible for organizing 170 weekly volunteers to serve around 90 meals a day. He is responsible for fundraising, recruiting and training volunteers, and securing food sources, but he is often seen working in the kitchen and dining room.

“Neill is selfless, understanding, and lives by the words of Pope Francis…. ‘You pray for the hungry, so you feed the hungry – and that’s how prayer works,’” she read from a nomination letter

The Humanitarian of the Year Award is the highest honor the Commission can bestow on an individual that has given unselfishly above and beyond the call of duty. It’s named for Paul Lee Stevens, a well-known humanitarian in the Wilson community for nearly a quarter of a century and former vice chair of the Wilson Human Relations Commission.

There were four other nominees for the award: Geraldine Battle, Bryan Berry, Sy’Donna Braswell and Robert Farris, Jr.

Other award winners were:

  • Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church, the Good Neighbor Award, which has assisted more than 6,500 families and more than 17,000 people with its food distribution center. Also nominated was Shon Richardson.
  • Crissy Oravits, Inspirational Volunteer Award, for her efforts to provide music therapy for special needs children. Judi Thurston was also nominated for this award.
  • Wilson Medical Center, Community Spirit Award, for the “Keeping Fit @ the Festival” held during the N.C. Whirligig Festival. Other nominees were Wilson Law Enforcement Fellowship and the Wilson Chamber of Commerce’s Dynamic Leadership Class of 2018.
  • Marvette Coley, Community Initiative Award, for working to get teen girls interested in science and technology fields, including a workshop on one-day website development. Other nominees were the Hand in Mine Organization, Oneida Mae Jenkins, and Ashely Locus.
  • Madison Parker, Youth on the Move Award, a senior at Hunt High School who volunteers extensively with St. Timothy Carriage House. Other nominees were Jordan Bonner, Auston Dew, Dashay Williams and Chibuke Uwakwe.


Nominations for next year’s awards will begin in late December. Go to and search “Humanitarian Awards” for nomination forms and more information.