Monday, June 28, 2010

"Women Who Make A Difference:" 2010 Women of Excellence Recognition Dinner

They are five women that we know you have heard of.

They are five women who are silent leaders in the community in various aspects of life in the African-American neighborhoods they grew up in, lived in, and made a difference in, with quiet determination.

They are five women, who would just as soon, not have the spotlight put on them.

But they are five women who deserve recognition, and as much of it as we can give them.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Pi Omega Omega Chapter of Kingsport and Johnson City, has honored, from left to right, Ms. Melissa Stukes, Ms. Charlotte Chopin, Mrs. Mary Alexander, Mrs. Pinkie Horton, and Reverend Pam Hoard, as its 2010 Women of Excellence. The five honorees were the guests at a recognition dinner, sponsored by the chapter on Saturday evening, June 26, 2010 at Food City. It's the 10th annual recognition dinner, with a silent auction to raise money for the organization.

"It's important that we all get recognized for what we do," says Linda Calvert, president of the local chapter. "These are the unsung heroes that may not be recognized the other major organizations, and we want to show them that we, our communities, appreciate what they do to make our communities better."

So, let's take a look at this year's honorees.

In the Lifetime Achievement category, is Mrs. Pinkie Horton of Kingsport. Mrs. Pinkie was born in Lynch, Kentucky, the mother of 9 children with the late Ray Horton Sr. She has 67 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and 16 great-great grandchildren. She organized 5 choirs at the Central Baptist Church and was a member of the Senior Choir between 1968 and 1975. She's now a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church.

"I think everybody in the community knows her and her contributions, not just as a matriarch in her family, but as long as I've lived in Kingsport, I continue to hear from people about how they used to go to "Miss Pinkie's" house. When Miss Pinkie's children were eating, everybody else's children were eating, too. And when Miss Pinkie's children were getting good ole-fashioned mama discipline, there was enough to go around for everybody else's child who just happened to be there."

Mrs. Mary Alexander of Johnson City, is the honoree in the Politics-Community Outreach category. Mrs. Mary is from Johnson City, and was the first African-American elected to the Washington County Commission. She's also a charter member of the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission, and a former member of the Johnson City Historical Zoning Commission and the Downtown Visioning Steering Committee. She currently serves as director of the South Central Kingsport Weed and Seed Office, of which Mrs. Calvert also serves.

"I'm very much aware of what an integral part Mrs. Alexander plays in the development of community policing and neighborhood relations," Mrs. Calvert says. "She has many political connections in the Tri-Cities, and her vision of helping residents establish a model community to live in, is a very positive one."

In the Business category, Ms. Charlotte Chopin is the owner of Hair Additions in Johnson City. She's been in business for herself for the past 5 years, and offers business professional advice for clients, as well as TLC for one aspect of appearance women find the most important.

"All women like to look good," Mrs. Calvert says, "and Ms. Chopin provides the materials at an affordable price that enhance their appearance. We all like hair and hair extensions, and she's been very successful at it. At the same time, there are so few minority business owners, particularly female business owners. It's difficult keeping a small business going, and we wanted to give her the recognition and encouragement she deserves."

"Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!"--- Psalm 34

The Reverend Pam Hoard is the honoree in the Religion category. She was appointed to the pastorship of the Russell Chapel in Rogersville in June, 2010. Born and raised in Church Hill, Tennessee, Rev. Hoard began her ministry under the Rev. W.R.W. Douglas, at the Lyons Chapel AME Zion Church in New Canton, one of the oldest African-American churchs in East Tennessee. She received her first appointment to the Petersburg AME Zion Church in Rogersville in 2004. She is married to William H. Hoard and they have 3 sons. She is a Microsoft Certified Professional, and is an IT Support Specialist for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

"I think all of God's Servants know what each other has to go through, to spread the Gospel," Mrs. Calvert says. "Rev. Hoard is very much a recipient for recognition. The Russell Chapel AME Church is also one of the oldest churches in the area, and the decision to reassign her to that church, just came at the end of the AME Conference in Kingsport a few days ago. We are very pleased to recognize her in the area of religion."

Teaching our children in today's fast-moving society is no easy task, but Melissa Stukes is well up to the task. She's the honoree in the area of Education. Ms. Studkes was born in Sumter, South Carolina, receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from the College of Charleston, and a Master's Degree in Elementary Education, concentrating in Curriculum and Instruction. She is currently a 3rd Grade teacher in the Johnson City school system, and is pursuing a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership.

"To recognize a young African-American woman education is always something special," says Mrs. Calvert. "Ms. Stukes has only been in Johnson City for 3 or 4 years, but has already established herself as a very competent and capable instructor. Not only is she engaged in educating children, but she's also involved in lifelong learning, which is to be commended."

The Pi Omega Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority also awarded its 2010 Educational Scholarship to Ms. Ashley Craft, a graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport. She has been accepted at ETSU, and has chosen a career in the nursing field. Her compassion and desire to assist others and make a viable contribution to the community, were major factors in her selection of the nursing vocation.

"We always look forward to next year," says Mrs. Calvert. "When the ceremony ends here, we immediately start working on next year, seeking to improve on the goals of the organization. We'll assess what we could have done better, what worked great this year, with the desire to improve the process for next year, to honor more women who serve as inspirations in the community."