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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Community Unity Day 2011

Yes, Virginia.. there is a Santa Claus.

There was also a Community Unity Day in Kingsport, Tennessee in 2011.

It wasn't the citywide event that has been held in the Toy Reid - Eastman Employee Center Auditorium on the last Sunday of February for the past 13 years.. but a scaled-down version of the big show.

"In February, there were a lot of Black History Month programs going on every week and every weekend," says New Vision Youth Director Johnnie Mae Swagerty. "Those events kept everybody busy going from one thing to another, which WAS good. We weren't able to get a lot of preparation ready in time for the large celebration, but we didn't want to forget about the good fellowship we share every year."

This year's Community Unity Day celebration was held in the Nancy Pridemore Little Theater at Dobyns-Bennett High School.

The theme of this year's program was "A Day of Praise and Dance."

To see a slideshow of the celebration, please click here. Pictures provided by Angela Rodriguez.
Featured were praise groups from Greeneville's Full Gospel Mission Church, Kingsport's Full Gospel Mission Church #2, Shiloh Baptist Church, Central Baptist Church, Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church, For His Glory & Company, and the New Vision Youth Kids. Soloists at the event were Angela Rodrieguz of Greeneville, and 14-year-old Julieona Soto.

"We had a great turnout," says Ms. Swagerty. "Over a hundred people came out and supported the kids and the event." Ushers and hosts were the New Vision Youth, Rev. Kenneth Calvert and Jeannie Hodges with the South Central Community Development Corporation, Mrs. Linda Calvert and Mrs. Gladys Gambrell.

A special award of outstanding achievement was given to U-T student, Para-Olympic athlete and Hawkins County native Blake Leeper, in training with the U.S. Para-Olympic team. "Blake has come a long way," Ms. Swagerty says, "and he shows that anybody can do anything they want to do, if they put their minds to it." His parents, Edith and Billy Leeper accepted his award and were recognized at the gathering.

Annual scholarships were also handed out this year to Phillip Hamilton, son of Christine Comage, and Cydnee Edwards, daughter of Angie Gilmore.

Plans are already underway for the 15th year of celebrating Community Unity in Kingsport.

"Our hopes are to continue these annual community celebrations at the Toy Reid center," says Ms. Swagerty. "We're already preparing ahead of time this year, to get everything ready in order for next year."