By Brenda H. Andrews
For six years, the New Journal and Guide presented its Annual Impacting Lives Award Breakfast at the Murray Center in Norfolk. From its inception in 2014, over 500 guests showed up faithfully each year to fellowship, as over 60 awards were presented over the years.
This COVID-19 year, the event was held under the banner “We’re Still Here”, for a small group of 50, where masks and social distancing were practiced, allowing the spirit and purpose of the event to be enjoyed. The site was the Chesapeake Conference Center, and four persons were saluted as 2020 Impacting Lives honorees.
For those in attendance, it was the first time most had attended anything live and social since February or March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For the four honorees—Jan House, Sylvia Lennell, Sarah Peoples Perry and Lavonne Pledger—the occasion was a time to be celebrated for their selflessness and contributions to the community.
For the newspaper, it was a time to celebrate the honorees and to exhibit thankfulness for our continuing recovery from the adverse effects of the coronavirus on our business. For a six-week period in April, we curtailed our operation for the first time in the 120-year history of the newspaper. The future was unknown.
But, “We’re Still Here!”
Support from our sponsors allowed us to provide an elegant evening complete with a pre-reception and two-course dinner meal with live cabaret music performed by the Becky Livas Group. Three persons seated to a table was surely different from the 10-person seated tables of the past, but the camaraderie was genuine.
Special greetings were brought by Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott, and Bonita Billingsley Harris of Dominion Energy, all sponsoring partners for the event, along with the City of Norfolk and Sen. Mark Warner.
Rev. Dr. Keith Jones, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church, served as the Guest Minister for the evening. He also won one of the presidential chess sets that were given away as raffles.
Entertainment was provided by ACT-SO National Gold Medalist Ayana Askew of Norfolk who read her original poem “Is Justice Blind?”. In it, she expressed the emotional and thought-provoking injustices affecting the African American and communities of color.
Other program participants were Oronde Andrews, Chloe Jones, Brenda Logan and Leonard Colvin.
To God Be The Glory.