By Dr. George F. Reed
Special to the Guide
More than 600 people turned out April 29 for the New Chesapeake Men for Progress Education Foundation, Inc.’s 15th Annual Black Male Achievement and Scholarship Breakfast Awards program at the Chesapeake Conference Center. Mr. Micah C. Hall, Virginia’s Regional Sales Manager, Anthem, Inc., and Ways and Means Committee chairman for the Foundation, served as M.C.
Opening the program were Chesapeake’s Sheriff Honor Guard; Carman X. Smith of Western Branch HS; Mr. David K. Hamilton, the Foundation’s vice president; Rev. Dr. Harry Allen Hall; and the Deep Creek High School Quartet.
Introductory program remarks were provided by Mr. Al Alexander, chairman, Board of Directors for the Foundation; Chesapeake Mayor Dr. Richard “Rick” West; and Dr. Jared A. Cotton, superintendent, Chesapeake Public Schools; and Dr. George F. Reed, the Foundation’s secretary.
A number of special guests were recognized to include: Congressman Robert “Bobby” Scott; Va. Sen. L. Louise Lucas; Va. Sen. Lionell Spruill. Sr.; Del. C. E. Cliff Hayes; Del. Clinton Jenkins; Chesapeake Councilwomen Dr. Ella P. Ward and Debbie Ritter; Karen Jenkins, Suffolk School Board; Brenda Andrews, publisher and owner, New Journal and Guide; Dr. Stephanie Johnson; Colonel Mark Solesky, Ches. Chief of Police; Kenneth L. Gray, pres., ILA Local 1248; Thomas M. Little, ILA Hampton Roads District Council; Dr. Rebecca Adams, Chesapeake Forum; Chris Fleming, ODU; Ray Patel, president and CEO, Studios and Suites 4, Less Hotels; A. Keith Chapman, president, NAC; Rev. Dr. William D. Tyree, III, pastor; Willie Williams, professor, TCC; Kenneth Chesson, president, Crestwood HS Alumni Association, Inc.; Julius E. McCullough, pres., Tidewater Area Musicians; Mike Perez, principal, Grassfield HS; John Kownack, executive director, CRHA; Edmund Elliott, Ches.’s Fire Chief; Major David Rosado, Ches.’s Undersheriff; Paul Joseph, principal. Oscar Smith HS; Captain E. Mark Chicoine, director, Commonwealth Challenge, Youth Academy; Dr. Nathan, principal, Chesapeake’s Center for Student Success; Diane Edwards, Chesapeake Public Schools; Crystal Belifield, Anthem HealthKeepers Plus; William E. Harrell, president and CEO, HRT; Dr. Danelle Wallace-Alexander, NSU; and Kamron Phillip, pres. Chesapeake NAACP.
Donald Larrimore, financial secretary for the Foundation, introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. John B. Gordon, superintendent, Suffolk Public Schools, who is a renowned speaker, motivator, and published author of the book, “The Teacher’s Lounge.”
In addition to chronicling his journey from elementary school through higher education, Dr. Gordon provided a four point inspirational and motivational speech directed first toward the honorees, while at the same time providing helpful advice to parents.
His four point message which encouraged the students to take advantage of opportunities and make good choices, prompted a standing applause.
Thomas L. Hasty, II, CRP, Senior Vice President, Towne Bank, and Bonita Billingsley-Harris, Regional Policy Director, Dominion Energy, provided congratulatory remarks to the students on their accomplishments.
Quentin E. Hicks, principal, Western Branch HS, Introduced 10 middle school students, one from each of Chesapeake’s 10 middle schools who were awarded the late Dr. Darnell Johnson’s Award of Excellence. Each one received a certificate of accomplishment and a $100 visa gift card. The award is fully funded by Dr. Johnson’s widow, Dr. Stephanie Johnson.
The Education and Scholarship Committee Chairman, Clifton Randolph, introduced the 20 scholarship recipients, three from each school except Grassfield HS which submitted two. All 20 students received a $1,000.00 scholarship, and an achievement medallion. All of the students graduated with advanced studies diplomas, and will be attending a college or university this fall.
The Foundation announced it has awarded $192,000 in scholarships since 2009, and a total of$209,740 when adding its contributions to mentoring, school supplies to three Title I Schools, and support of the Chesapeake Unit of the Boys and Girl Club.
Currently, the Foundation manages several scholarships, including the George McCadden $1,000.00 Vocational Trades and Technology Scholarship funded by Mrs. Carolyn Abron-McCadden, widow of the late George McCadden. It will be awarded in August.
Also to be awarded in August is the $1,000.00 Vocational Trade and Technology Scholarship sponsored by InterCooler, Inc., a minority trucking firm in Portsmouth, Va. that is owned by Ian I. Thomas, who fully funds this.
Dr. Rose M. Ward, widow of the late Dr. William E. Ward, supports the Foundation’s $1,000.00 Dr. William E. Ward Scholarship for students attending HBCUs.
A new partnership between the Foundation and Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority has established a $1,000.00 scholarship for students residing in public housing or in private housing using Housing Choice Vouchers. This partnership has led to the foundation’s launching its 10-month Leadership Development Mentoring Program for middle and high school students residing in public housing or private housing using Housing Choice Vouchers.
The Foundation also has a partnership with the Chesapeake Education Association to provide $1,000.00 scholarships to students pursuing careers as teachers. Additionally, the Foundation provides a $1,000.00 Fine Arts Scholarship.
The Foundation has been blessed to have members who believe and support its mission. Micah C. Hall and his wife Kandi Hall in 2022 established an endowment for $10,000.00, which has increased to $12,000.00. This endowment is designated to assist students in the Camelot and South Norfolk Communities.
The Foundation board of directors and members are required to make donations beyond their annual dues, and we are good stewards of the foundation’s funds. Only about 4% of each dollar the Foundation receives is spent on operations. We are all volunteers and trying to make a difference in the lives of Black males living in Chesapeake.