BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
Donna Gray-Banks has been named the City of New Smyrna Beach’s employee of the year.
Banks, community resource coordinator, is just the second African-American to receive this award from the city. She was honored for her participation on the Railroad Avenue Housing Development, which is located in the historic Westside neighborhood of New Smyrna Beach.
It had been more than 50 years since a new housing development had been built in Westside. It took a collaborative effort by the city, Volusia County and the New Smyrna Beach Housing Authority as well as local residents to make the development a reality. It was Gray-Banks’ vision for the project.
More than 45 awards were presented during a New Smyrna Beach employee banquet on Feb. 3 at the Brannon Civic Center.
Other African-Americans recognized at the banquet were Althea Philord Bradley, the city’s finance director for 15 years of service; Otha Wright for 35 years of service; and Eugene Slaton for 10 years of service.
Gray-Banks also received a five-year award at the program.
“I was humbled because 2016 was a year of great loss for me personally, my mother and my nephew died five months apart. It was hard to catch your breath let alone concentrate on working. But it was the work that kept me going,” Gray-Banks told the Daytona Times about being named employee of the year.
“It was also another open door for other African-Americans to be recognized for their work in the city and being an African-American female who had been recognized made it extra special,’’ she added.
Gray-Banks, who also is an author, is the creator of the F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival held annually in January since 2012.