By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
The Urban League of Hampton Roads will host its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast on Jan. 16 and launch a new office on the Peninsula later this month.
The annual breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Founder’s Inn located on the campus of Regent University in Virginia Beach. Tickets cost $30 and are still available. The keynote speaker is Kay Cole James, the former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under George W. Bush from 2001-2005.
According to Edith White, CEO of the Hampton Roads Urban League, ticket prices have not risen in over a decade for the annual event that brings private individuals together with civic, government, and business persons. “I think political engagement is always the key and it can take many forms,” said White. “Many diverse organizations are going to be at our annual breakfast regardless of the political officeholders who are fighting for various offices. The Urban League fights for those who cannot fight for themselves. That’s why this event is so important.”
James, the keynote speaker, currently heads the Gloucester Institute, a leadership training center for African Americans. James served as secretary of Health and Human Services under Gov. George Allen, as well as the dean of Regent University’s government school. She is a member of the NASA Advisory Council. A graduate of Hampton University, James has received numerous honorary degrees, and was senior vice president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobbying organization.
White said she is “delighted” that Regent University is hosting the Urban League’s annual breakfast for the first time this year. “We use this event to set the stage for the rest of the year,” White said. “It reminds us of our legacy and our obligation to remain in the forefront as leaders seeking solutions for challenges in our communities.”
The annual breakfast also allows the Urban League to look back and ahead. “The No. 1 challenge continues to be jobs,” White said, pointing to ongoing job training services the Urban League provides year round including resume writing, interviewing, and job location services. “We continue to partner with businesses to help them create job opportunities. We are a conduit.”
“The No. 2 problem is housing,” White continued. “We saved over 800 homes from foreclosure in Hampton Roads this year through a variety of programs that we provide. It makes a tremendous difference to keep people in their homes. It helps to build wealth in the community. The No. 2 challenge is health disparity.” In addition to offering ongoing foreclosure prevention seminars, the Urban League also offers monthly classes for first time homebuyers. The next class is scheduled for Jan. 21 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., in Portsmouth at 3225 High St.
“This breakfast is a reminder that each person has a role to play in improving the quality of life in Hampton Roads,” White continued. “We pride ourselves on being a regional organization. You can come out and show you are vested.” The new satellite office will open in late January at the Thomas Community Center, 1300 Thomas St., Hampton. To purchase tickets please phone 627-0864 or go to the website: www.ulhr.org.