Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico, has started a worthwhile project: the Central Virginian of the Week.

Each week, she honors a resident who contributes to the greater good.

And this week, that honoree is an 18-year-old student at Orange County High School, Hannah Howard.

Central Virginians of the Week are recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives. There, Ms. Spanberger cited Hannah’s “perseverance, strength and compassion.”

Hannah has become an advocate for mental health and addiction awareness after the overdose death of her brother last year. She told the Orange County Review that a series of traumas led to his addiction: the deaths of both grandparents and a beloved aunt; the murder of a half-sister; their parents’ divorce.

Now Hannah and her remaining family have to bear this additional tragedy.

But instead of sinking under its weight, Hannah has used it as a platform for activism — striving to make county residents more aware of the problems of drug addiction and to promote mental health resiliency. In her project for the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School, she’s learning how to administer naxalone, which can interrupt an overdose; teaching fellow OCHS students about the benefits of such an intervention; and interacting with recovering addicts during an internship at a rehab facility.

She plans to go to college to study psychology and concentrate on mental health and addiction issues.

We agree: Hannah Howard is a Central Virginian deserving of recognition. We join Rep. Spanberger in thanking her for caring about people who need help and for making our community a better place to live.

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