Steve McGraw of Roanoke is the 2019 recipient of the McGrath Clan’s Medal of Echthighern.

McGraw, a long-term member of the U.S. McCraw Family Association, served as its president for six years and is on its board of directors.

The Medal of Echthighern was presented during a clan gathering in Dungarvan, Ireland, on June 29. It is the highest honor that the McGrath Clan can bestow on an individual and is named after the brother of Brian Boru, from whom the McGrath Clan descended.

According to family history, it’s believed that the McGrath Clan gets its name from Echthighern’s grandson Craith.

Since 2013, the McGrath Clan Association/Clan McGrath of Thomond, the original McGrath Clan, has recognized several people for their contributions and enhancement of the clan.

During McGraw’s tenure, the association was able to confirm its connection with the McGrath Clan through the association’s DNA program.

According to his nomination, McGraw has spent many hours researching and tracing his family ancestry and is on track to pinpoint the original landholdings of the family’s first American ancestor, William MacCraw.

He and his wife, Sharon, have two sons.

McGraw is clerk of the Roanoke County Circuit Court and is a former member and chairman of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. Prior to becoming clerk of court, McGraw worked as a real estate broker and a social worker. He also is active in civic and community organizations.

Villa Heights restoration complete

Restoration Housing held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday to mark the completion of its third restoration project.

The Villa Heights Recreation Center, 2750 Hoover St. N.W., was built around 1820 and was known as the Compton-Bateman House.

Kingdom Life Ministries International, a non-denominational church, is the anchor tenant in the 5,000-square-foot historic home.

Three nonprofits with a commitment to serving the surrounding community will sublease part of the community center: CAFE (Cultural Arts for Excellence), led by Donna Robinson; LEAP for Local Food, led by Maureen Best; and The Humble Hustle Co., led by Xavier Duckett.

“Kingdom Life Ministries is extremely excited about the possibilities of community engagement in the Villa Heights neighborhood,” the Rev. Kathy O’Keefe, lead pastor of the church, said in a news release. “I have been moved by all the stories from individuals in the congregation sharing their wonderful memories of after-school sports, educational programs, and dance practices that filled their days through programs that were available to them at Villa Heights Recreational Center. The memories are powerful and full of joy. So, it is the hope of our nonprofits to build relationships with the community and be supportive of the vision of the Villa Heights neighborhood and the surrounding Northwest community. We see it as an exciting opportunity to work with and serve the people of our community.”

Restoration Housing, which began in 2014, acquired Villa Heights in late 2017 as its third rehabilitation overhaul.

The first two projects are in the West End neighborhood and are both used as affordable rental housing. A fourth project underway in Southeast Roanoke will provide four permanent supportive housing units to formerly homeless people.

Roanoke contractor Square 1, which completed the West End constructions, performed the renovation of Villa Heights in conjunction with Hughes Associates Architects and Engineers, who prepared the architectural drawings. Each of Restoration Housing’s projects uses historic tax credits.

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