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Monday, February 25, 2008

Community Unity Day: Vaughn Presents SCKCD State Grant To Continue Community Unity Efforts

‘We are so very proud to have had the opportunity to be in a community that embraces the diversity of this community.’
— Nathan Vaughn

Jeff Bobo — State Rep. Nathan Vaughn speaks during the 13th annual Community Unity event Sunday in Kingsport.



KINGSPORT — Thirteen turned out to be the lucky number Sunday for the 13th annual Community Unity Celebration as state Rep. Nathan Vaughn presented event organizers with a state grant to help ensure that programs bringing together Kingsport residents will continue in the future.
There were several presentations during the event held at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center. But entertainment was the main order of business Sunday evening and included Christian music performed by the Community Unity Choir, the Towne Squares, Unveiled Praise, the Tri-Cities Mass Choir and saxophonist Danny Williams Jr.
The event is sponsored every year by the South Central Kingsport Community Development Inc. and was inspired by the tragic death of 4-year-old Jalisha Ferguson, who was killed by a stray bullet while playing in her yard in 1994 when a drug deal in her neighborhood turned violent. Ferguson would have graduated high school this year.
The intent of the Community Unity Celebration — aside from providing an enjoyable evening of live music — is to remind people that although they may be separated by neighborhoods or cultural differences, they should still share the same goal of making Kingsport the safest and most prosperous city for everyone who lives there.

“We have accomplished a lot in 13 years, and that has a lot to do with communities and the city coming together,” Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said during Sunday’s event. “We want Kingsport to be a city that you’re proud to live in, and I think we’ve made a lot of strides. It’s only because the people have come together to work with each other and make this the city it is.”
As part of the Community Unity Celebration every year the SCKCD gives away a scholarship, and this year’s recipient is Dobyns-Bennett student Christina Hooker. SCKCD board member Linda Kincaid noted that Hooker’s goal is to open a chain of full service day spas and beauty salons, but first she plans to attend Northeast State Community College.
Kincaid also praised Hooker for earning nearly 1,500 hours of training in cosmetology, which she plans to put to use while supporting herself through college. Hooker will be the first person to graduate from Dobyns-Bennett with a cosmetology license.

Among the other Unity Award recipients this year were Ida Machen who shares her musical talent every year during the celebration; Calvin Sneed who was praised for his efforts as a historian; and the Kingsport Police Department.
“Many of the citizens who live in Riverview saw a major difference in the climate and the protection that occurred,” said SCKCD board chairman Dr. Kenneth Calvert. “The violence that used to be every day no longer existed. ... A lot of organizations and groups came together to make the peace effort possible.
“But there was one group out there on the main line while most of us were sleeping, and that group was the Kingsport Police Department.

One of the final speakers of the evening was Vaughn who presented Calvert and the SCKCD a check for $7,500 in grant funding from the Tennessee Community Enhancement program. Vaughn said the funds will help the SCKCD “continue the great work you do for this community. ”
“I can remember 13 years ago when this effort was first started and I can remember many of the attitudes that brought about the need for this celebration,” Vaughn said. “Sometimes in the midst of turmoil there is good reason to celebrate. This has been 13 years, and many would say that 13 is not a very good number.
“But I’m here to tell you that 13 is a very lucky number for this community. We are so very proud to have had the opportunity to be in a community that embraces the diversity of this community. ”