HandsOn Central Ohio recently recognized Al Edmondson, along with seven other central Ohio residents, with the Agent of Change Award for his volunteer efforts in the Columbus community.
The award, presented last week as part of HandsOn Central Ohio’s celebration of National Volunteer Week, honored him for leading revitalization efforts in his neighborhood as president of the Mount Vernon District Improvement Association and the Mount Vernon Avenue Business Association.
Edmondson is a proud graduate of East High School. He enlisted in the United States Army right out of high school, and received a Bronze Star for bravery in service during Operation Desert Storm. But, it is his everyday heroism that inspires his neighbors.
As owner of the appropriately named barbershop, “A Cut Above the Rest,” it’s clear that his efforts to improve the community with a multi-pronged approach – from business development to youth initiatives – is yielding results.
Al promotes other small businesses by allowing them to advertise in his shop. In 2008, he launched a nonprofit magazine called “The Taste of Mount Vernon” to spotlight businesses, artists and writers from the community.
In an effort to improve the lives of residents in the community, he transformed his business into a multi-use facility, housing not only a barbershop and beauty salon, but also Making A Difference, Inc., a nonprofit working with families in the community.
Al hosted the first King/Lincoln Memorial Pride, honoring and remembering African Americans for their service in the armed forces. He organizes an annual Back-to-School rally, which provides youth on the near East Side with backpacks and supplies for school. To date, more than 450 youth have received backpacks. In addition, he hosts free heath screenings in the barbershop for the community every first Saturday.
Al spearheads local community action committees; is an active member of the St. Marks Lodge #7 and New Salem Baptist church; he facilitates a men’s Bible study group on Mondays in his shop; and is an ambassador for the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and Life Line of Ohio.
Al focuses on enhancing the lives of families in the Near East Side of Columbus, who are often disenfranchised due to economic or other factors.
As a hands-on public servant, he has poured thousands of hours, as well as his own personal financial resources, into projects to improve the community, and the lives of his neighbors.
By constantly looking for ways to improve the community, providing a voice for small businesses, and seeing the value in his community, Al is improving the lives of all of the current and future residents in the area.
By providing a helping hand to entrepreneurs and residents, Al is committed to bringing businesses back to the neighborhood and setting community standards for the next generation.