MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ – Moving and Inspiring. 

Those two words describe it all at a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial breakfast held by the Monmouth County YMCA’s at Branches Catering in West Long Branch, NJ.

The Western Monmouth County YMCA and the Red Bank Family Community YMCA came together as one “Y” representing after 30 years of celebrating the memory and teachings of Dr. King separately.

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Laurie Goganzer, President & CEO said that of the Red Bank Family YMCA, “Community is more that just a place.  It’s a group of people with common interests who connect and care about one another.  Two “Y’s” together as one to honor Dr. King, celebrating unity as Dr. King modeled.”  

Wayne Boatright, Emcee and VP of Diversity & Inclusion, Hackensack Meridian Health, said that, “We are hear today to make a friend.  Don’t leave today without exchanging phone numbers or emails, without (knowing) somebody who looks different than you.  I’m now friends with Rabbi Marc Kline and we wanted to find out what is sacred to each other.  In other words, we want to know about each other.”

The Invocation was provided by Syed Ali, Y Achiever and student at the Poseidon Early College High School.

Vocalist Genise Hughes sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”  To hear her, click HERE.




Awards were presented to Solange Skarecki, 1st Essay Winner from Asbury Park High School and 2nd Essay Winner Ned Bryant Jr., East Freehold High School.

Presenting the awards were Laurie Goganzer, Wayne Boatwright, Tim Hogan of Hackensack Meridian and Tom Hayes and Cheryl Morrison with New Jersey Natural Gas.

To hear Solange Skarecki recite her composition, click HERE

To hear Ned Bryant, Jr., read his essay, click HERE.

After the awards presentation, Courtney Wilds sang a beautiful rendition of "If I can Help Somebody."  To listen, click HERE

Prior to introducing the keynote speaker, the Reverend Cheryl Auguste, Associate Minister, Bethel AME Church of Freehold, asked the audience, “Where do you stand?  Will you be willing to stand against injustice?  Will you be willing to stand against intolerance? 

Will you be able to stand and say, “I will do what I’m called to do no matter what people say about me.”  Are you willing to sacrifice who you are, are you willing to deal with the inconvenience of your life, are you willing to do that with somebody you don’t even know?  Well, Martin Luther King was willing to do that.”  

Keynote speaker Reverend Ronald Sparks, Pastor of Bethel AME Church of Freehold in an awe-inspiring speech said in part, “God has called you to use both your gifts and your talents, not just for your community, but the communities around you.  Martin Luther King recognized that he may not see the promised land, but he seen what the possibilities could be.  He seen what could happen when we look beyond our skin color.  He seen what can happen when we look beyond what others are doing, that when God puts something down on the inside of us, when God places us where we ought to be, He’ll give us the strength. 

When doors are closed, God will open them.  When ways are not made for you, God will blaze a trail for you.  When you don’t have a place to go, God will open a door.  I ask the question; where do you stand?”

Rabbi Marc Aaron Kline of the Monmouth Reform Temple, Tinton Falls, said, “We have an opportunity and obligation to go beyond meeting on this day once a year, to gathering with each other every day.  If this day is a reason to gather in the name of justice and righteousness, then I call on us to make sure that every day is a day to gather in justice and righteousness.”

Reverend Terrance Porter, Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Red Bank, closed with the Benediction saying, “Now may the grace of God, and the sweet community of the Holy Spirit, restful and abide with you both now, henceforth and evermore, go forth from this place daring to make a difference in your life, one person at a time.  And we all say together, "Amen".  God bless you and the peace of God be with you.”

Amen indeed.