RED BANK, NJ: The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County virtually held their 32nd annual breakfast commemoration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., last Friday.
Michael Wright, YMCA Board member and MLK Event Chair, opened the commemoration saying, “The Y’s own mission compels us to embrace, reflect and celebrate the richness of diversity within each other and the communities we serve.”
The two winners of the Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest were announced.
Students were asked to answer the question, “One person’s seemingly small actions can change the world. How could you use your voice to promote and advance social justice within your community and circle of influence?"
Winners were Alexandra Lewis of Red Bank Regional High School and Vaughn Greason of Freehold Township High School. Both winners will receive a $1,500 scholarship for their education, donated by Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey Natural Gas and PorterPlus Realty, as well as a full-year youth membership to a YMCA of Greater Monmouth County branch of their choice.
Gilda Rogers, Community Activist and V.P. of the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation Board, introduced the keynote speaker, Pastor Kerwin Webb of the Second Baptist Church of Asbury Park and President, Greater Red Bank Area NAACP.
Webb provided moving remarks, in part saying, “Challenge yourself in finding your inner Dr. Martin Luther King, challenge yourself to stand up to those in power, challenge yourself to critique those who even look like you and say that they are on your side, challenge them to do better. Challenge yourself to be your best self and be an example of light in a dark world.”
Wayne Boatwright, V.P. of Diversity and Inclusion at Hackensack Meridian Health and last year’s recipient of the MLK Human Dignity award, presented the 2021 award to Gwendolyn Love, Executive Director of Lunch Break.
“I do share the love, but "Gwen, Gwen, Gwen," doesn’t do it all. I truly believe in the saying that “many hands make light work.” We have a wonderful group of volunteers that help us, sustain us, do the work as well as a very dedicated staff. The work that we do I feel really does embody the legacy and ideology of Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Love in some of her acceptance of the award.
Closing out the event was Laurie Goganzer, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County. Goganzer presented a video of all the Y provides the community including, “Togetherhood” that provides different monthly initiatives, food and blood donation drives, winter coat distribution and much more.
“Our world can no longer be a passive place where people exist, tolerate or accept. That’s not enough. We must be intentional in our actions and deeply connected with one another in service to those who need it most. We are simply not a Y in the community, we are a Y for the community,” said Goganzer.
Providing the Benediction was Reverend Ronald Sparks of the Bethel AME Church in Freehold, in closing prayed, “God our creator and sustainer of life. As we come to the close of this Martin Luther King breakfast, we come to remember the one who brought us together regardless of our race, color or creed. That you would keep us as oneness together as a community. We pray God that you would bring healing and we would show love toward one another. That despite our differences, despite our color, that we would be one community. And may you keep us from stumbling, even as we make mistakes we would get back up. As we go together, God you will be our creator and sustainer now henceforth and forever more. Amen.”
To watch the video of the entire commemoration, click HERE.
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