WEST LONG BRANCH: The 71st Annual Freedom Fund Luncheon was pleased to have Thabiti Boone as guest speaker from Washington DC, the White House and President Barrack Obama. His words were in tune with the "Reconnecting the Family" theme of the event.
His presence and his message conveyed a vision of hope, of the change needed to reach out and grasp the world around them with an undaunted courage to stand tall as adversity confronts them.
He asked the family members whose fathers were far from them to reach out and forgive and accept them as needed contributors to raising and leading a family through example, through actions.
Mr. Thabiti called for men of the community to seek their future by taking charge of their own actions and behavior, take on the responsibility of their role as a father. Respect the women of the community as fathers are needed and expected. Reject those around you who would shirk that responsibility and conduct themselves in negative actions, disrespect for their progeny and culture that needs a father in the family to have a good life.
As a surprise to all, Mr. Thabiti called NAACP Director Bill Dangler's mother Odessa to receive an emblem of recognition for her role in Bill's life that brought him to the leadership role he plays so diligently today.
The audience applauded loudly, some calling to her as friend and leader in her community.
Other were recognized for the contributions over the years. Congressman Frank Pallone who stressed individual take active roles with their government representatives to bring about social and civil rights changes to assure fair, unbiased actions in Washington and the state capitals.
Other dignitaries were announced for their contributions in the community as leaders and role models, examples for the young to follow.
Dr. Antonio N. Lewis, today a shepherd for those children and families in need, especially in the Asbury Park community.
Mr. Robert J. Harrison, an educator and government supporter at county, state and federal positions.
Judge Lawrence M. Lawson, A.J.S.C. Retired, noted for his personal successes as well as his strong effort to promote individual freedoms and personal care.
Dr. Frank Vozos, M.D., FACS, President and CEO of Monmouth Medical who Dangler noted as a manager of the hospital's positive values of supporting workers and staff based strictly on merit, avoiding biases and unfair personnel practice through his due diligence.
Elford Rawls-Dill, PHD who works hard in the field of education, showing the way toward positive mentorship as a means of achieving student success.
Long Branch High School Teacher James. H, Brown, new to his field yet committed to Dr. Martin Luther King's message that "Intelligence plus character; that is the true goal of education".
Tyrone K. Laws was honored for his artistic successes and his encouragement to others who will follow. He spoke of his belief in communities of choice, "one person, one family, one neighborhood at a time" to create strong middle class successes.
The successful theme has been a progression of several recent programs President Dangler has developed. He began in March with a press conference, taped and distributed to school and social agencies where he asked police chiefs in several nearby shore towns to address the ways their staff develops good working relationships with the public, particularly the youth. He invited Lt Governor Kim Guadagno to participate in the statewide impacting efforts along similar lines.
His two-day Youth Summit was another new program for teens to learn respect for others with strong emphasis on male-female relationships and respect. His "Men Make A Difference Program in partnership with other NAACP chapters and social agencies in other parts of the state has shown strong promise of growing fathers and men in general in becoming a positive force in the community, an asset much needed to move forward.