BELLEVILLE, NJ - Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC) hosted its Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration and Luncheon was held Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in The Learning Center. This year’s theme was “Empowering our Youth” and its keynote speaker, was 8 year-old Master Hilton Rawls, III, prolific speaker, minister, orator and actor who recited one of the last speeches given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tennessee: “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” The speech, which was given on April 3, 1968 in support of 1,300 striking sanitation workers that assembled regularly at the church. Rawls, who regularly shares the Gospel messages in various parts of the country and has led prayers to heal hearts, has appeared in several TV commercials and in the hit NetFlix series “Seven Seconds” featuring actress Regina King.

Of particular note this year was the presentation of the Humanitarian Award for 2019 that was presented to Tracy Thompson, a Patient Experience Representative in the Patient Experience Department at CMMC. Thompson was nominated as one who regularly embodies the spirit of Dr. King through acts of kindness and service to others. Upon hearing the announcement of her name as this year’s award recipient (the recipient is kept secret until the annual MLK program), Thompson responded “I love my job, I love my coworkers and I absolutely love being able to assist our patients and serve our community especially when they need it most” said Thompson.

“Recognizing selfless acts of service to others is precisely why our staff created the Humanitarian Award several years ago” said Mary Ellen Clyne, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer at Clara Maass Medical Center. “Tracy is revered by all of us and we greatly appreciate that she goes out of her way to see how she can lend a hand to help someone else” Clyne said.

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“I am so proud of Tracy. She brings a high level of enthusiasm and a genuine caring spirit to the Patient Experience Department and she has truly helped in a tremendous way to create a healing environment at Clara Maass” said Javier Alvarez, MBA, Director of Patient Experience at CMMC.

Thompson was nominated by a physician in the Emergency Department at CMMC, Leo Pritsiolas, MD. In his nomination, Dr. Pritsiolas noted how Thompson “takes on her role with so much energy and compassion that it really invigorates the entire team. She genuinely loves people and loves the role she has in helping patients and families – especially during stressful periods of time in the hospital. He noted times when Tracy has helped concerned loved ones reconnect with family members at the hospital, and that she has approached some of the most challenging situations with tact and care, always ensuring the patient’s satisfaction as a priority.

In addition, during the program, Dr. Clyne presented the Medical Center’s Brotherhood Award to Akbar Cook, Principal of West Side High School in Newark. Cook was selected by hospital staff to receive the Award to acknowledge his efforts to make a difference in the lives of Newark’s young people. Most recently, Cook was recognized by comedienne and television host Ellen DeGeneres for installing a laundry facility at the school to help students avoid being bullied or embarrassed for wearing unclean clothing.

The event included a song, “He Look Beyond My Faults” performed by CMMC Dietary Services employee Eritha Stone and a special performance by the renowned Newark Boys Chorus, often referred to as Newark’s Musical Ambassadors. The Chorus, performed a collection of African American selections that included the ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’, a traditional spiritual, ‘Elijah Rock’ and an African style original, Tuimbe (Let There Be Music). The Chorus, who has performed on five continents, typically performs a diversified repertoire that includes traditional classical music, spirituals, folk music and jazz.

The event was organized by the Medical Center’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee and is held annually at the Medical Center.