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Community leaders honored as Persons of the Year

Each year, the National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc. – Gadsden Chapter acknowledges the contributions of a distinguished group of community leaders who are recognized for their work in churches, educational institutions, dedication to their families and community, entrepreneurship, healthcare services, social and civic projects; and local law enforcement; and/or have distinguished themselves in their careers.

The seven leaders honored this year at a luncheon on June 23 at Gadsden County High School in Havana were:

• Lieutenant Donteris M. Andrews of the Havana Police Department;
• Havana Mayor Pro-Tem Decorkus V. Allen;
• Gadsden County High School Vice Principal for Operational Services Rebecca Hightower Gaines;
• Gadsden County School District Mathematics Specialist Abria J. Harris:
• Crossroad Academy Charter School Teacher Erica D. Jordan;
• Teacher Deborah Russ-Shaffer of Griffin Middle School in Tallahassee;
• Shandra L. Wright, a Pre-kindergarten paraprofessional at Greensboro Elementary School.

The National Hook-Up of Black Women’s Dr. Jessie V. Furlow Scholarship Awards were presented by Chapter Scholarship Chair Sister Shirley Knight to two 2018 high school graduates: Trentorria Green from Gadsden County High School, who will attend Florida State University as a nursing major, and Shari’Ann Love Sanders from Crossroad Academy Charter School, who will attend Florida A & M University, majoring in physical/medical sports therapy.

Also attending was National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc.’s National Scholarship Recipient, Jordan McCrone, who is a music education major at Florida A & M University, where she also will be performing with the marching band. Family, friends and co-workers came to applaud the work of the seven honorees, who have made Gadsden County a better and safer place to work and live.

The work they have done ranged from providing a solid quality education to children of all ages to combating the fight against illegal drugs and domestic abuse in our community. Guest speaker Minister Sharon Brinson Thomas shared an inspiring message on how to effectively lend voices to find a solution to important personal and community needs that go unresolved.

For instance, something as simple as volunteering time and resources to assist adult residents with disabilities who are unable to do their own grocery shopping and complete other tasks others take for granted. Thomas serves as director of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services for the Gadsden County School District.

Each honoree expressed that the honor was unexpected and appreciated. Their closing remarks were filled with gratitude and humble thanks to the National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc. – Gadsden Chapter. Linda D. Jefferson, National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc. national first vice president (and event chair) thanked everyone for their support and willingness to assist wherever and whenever needed.

Chapter President Debra W. Roberts presented the 2018 President’s Award to Shirley Knight. Roberts’ closing remarks included special accolades to the Sisters of National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc. – Gadsden Chapter for the love and sisterhood expressed while planning for the event.

She said, “One person cannot do this work alone. Everyone working together always ends in a spectacular outcome such as what we experienced today.”

COVER PHOTO: L-R: Donteris Andrews, Rebecca Hightower Gaines, Abria Harris, Erica Jordan, Deborah Russ-Shafter and Shandra Wright were recently honored by the National Hook-Up of Black Women Inc. – Gadsden Chapter at its Annual Persons of the Year Luncheon. Also honored but not pictured was Decorkus Allen. Photo courtesy NHBW Inc.

By Lauren S. Wright, first vice president & program chair, NHBW Inc.- Gadsden