By: Jackie Hardy, NDG Contributing Writer
On Oct. 13, the NAACP Irving-Carrollton branch held their annual Freedom Fund Luncheon at the DFW Marriott located in Irving. The Freedom Fund Luncheon is a major fundraising initiative with proceeds from the event used to fund the organizations community service efforts.
The other purpose for the event is to acknowledge individuals within the public and private sector for their contributions in helping the NAACP further its mission “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”
Award recipients for this year’s luncheon include:
Educator of the Year – Crockett Middle School Principal Raymond Edwards;
Business of the Year – Minority Opportunity News President and North Dallas Gazette (NDG) Publisher Thurman Jones;
Clergy of the Year – Antioch Christian Church Senior Pastor Norris McGill; and
Fletcher Yates Community Service Award – New Tomorrows Executive Director Caroline Huntley Little; this is an award given in memory of the late Fletcher Yates for his years of service and commitment as the Executive Vice President to the Irving-Carrollton NAACP.
According to Tony Grimes, Irving-Carrollton NAACP President, the selection process for the four awards entailed members submitting their nomination to the Board then having the members vote for the candidate they believe tangibly demonstrated outstanding community service.
NDG’s own Thurman Jones was one of the honorees, whom Grimes and the members felt embodied the spirit of community service. They spotlighted his mentorship of students on the disciplines of journalism through the Irving Summer Reading Program.
Grimes surprised additional individuals with a plaque in special recognition of their contributions to Irving. The other individuals honored at the luncheon were:
Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd for his continued efforts to build community relations between the police force and the residents of Irving;
Lenore Jones for going above and beyond the call of duty for the Irving-Carrollton NAACP; and
Rudy McDonald in recognition of his achievement of becoming a NAACP Lifetime Member.
There was a final presentation with the awarding of $250 scholarships, an annual part of the luncheon. These monies are provided to deserving students to help offset tuition related cost.
The 2012 scholarship recipients were Ayana Brown and Jasmine Miller.
Grimes added, “last year we gave a total of $10,000 back to the community.”
In addition to honoring the award recipients, the luncheon included remarks from community leaders including the Southeast Region Field Director of NAACP, Alethea Bonello. She discussed the importance of the upcoming election and choosing government officials who put people before profits. Bonello shared her thoughts on having a government willing to put their differences aside to create a better future for the people. Bonello challenged the audience to make their voices heard and show up on Election Day.
Local dignitaries in attendance included Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia; Irving City Council members Dennis Webb and Brad LeMorgese; Irving Chamber President Chris Wallace; Irving ISD board of trustees Rhonda Huffstetler and Gwen Craig; and Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, who also delivered remarks and Garland City Council man Billy Williams served as emcee.
The Irving-Carrollton NAACP has led the charge in voter registration according to Grimes. He reported they have helped to register over 500 voters since the May primary elections. Grimes shared the organization has been meeting with pastors within the community to get the word out regarding the upcoming election.
They are hosting a free Political Forum on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church located at 11611 Webb Chapel Road in Dallas.
“Our goal is to have 100 percent voter turnout among all minorities,” adds Grimes.
For more information about the upcoming event email Grimes at firstname.lastname@example.org.