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Ronald McDonald House Charities of SoCal Celebrates Three Young Leaders for Black History Month

(from left to right) Lashyra Nolen, Thomas Watkins, and Lorissa Payne

(from left to right) Lashyra Nolen, Thomas Watkins, and Lorissa Payne

LOS ANGELES, CA- What does it take to be a leader? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great orator, Muhammad Ali was a fighter in and out of the ring, and aviator Bessie Coleman was as determined as they come. One thing they had in common was their affinity for leadership which was apparent at an early age.  Today, three stellar scholars from Ronald McDonald House Charities®/African American Future Achievers (RMHC/AAFA) scholarship program are emerging as young leaders in their communities and on their college campuses as well. The scholarship program is hosted locally by Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Southern California (RMHCSC) and supported by the fundraising efforts of local McDonald’s owner/operators and corporate staff.  Each of these students have drawn inspiration from leaders of the past, while they start to build their own ideas of what it takes to become a leader today.

Lashyra Nolen

Lashyra Nolen

LaShyra Nolen, a sophomore Health and Human Science major at Loyola Marymont University (LMU), believes being a leader means being bold and being prepared to act so the voices you serve are heard. She plans to do just that as a Clinton Global Initiative Student innovator, a program that provides support for undergraduate students who are developing new solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Her plan is to create a five-week health program in the Riverside and San Bernardino communities that help families set healthy trends.

Nolen says the RMHC/AAFA program gave her confidence. “The fact that such an organization saw me fit to represent them showed me that I have people who believe in me,” says Nolen. “I asked myself, why can’t I be successful and do well in college too?” Doing “well” is an understatement for Nolen who serves her campus as a student senator, resident hall advisor, and member of LMU’s Belles Service Organization.

The aspiring doctor, who is from Rancho Cucamonga, says her drive and passion for her community was inspired by her mother. She received two college degrees while taking care of Nolen and her little brother as a single mother. “Everything I am doing all goes back to giving back and using my strength to help others.”

Thomas Watkins

Thomas Watkins

Thomas Watkins was selected as a RMHC/AAFA recipient in 2013 and has since partnered with RMHCSC to talk with students about reaching their goals and the importance of pursuing college. A Corona native majoring in Hotel and Restaurant Management at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona, Watkins believes a leader has to know how to command attention through communication. “A leader could be anyone, from any walk of life,” says Watkins. “They could talk to the CEO of a company, and also connect with a kindergartener with no problem.”

As an aspiring restauranteur, Watkins hopes to continue connecting with his community. He believes food is the one thing that can put a smile on anyone’s face. “I want to help my community by creating programs that teach kids how to cook as an outlet for them,” he says.

Lorissa Payne

Lorissa Payne

Biola University student, Lorissa Payne, began thinking of ways she could become a leader in high school. The freshman English major noticed she had the gift of writing and challenged herself by taking advanced placement classes which led her to be selected to the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola. The institute spurs students to take a deeper dive into Western literature and aims to build strong, Christian leaders.

“Writing is a primary form of communication and if students can’t express themselves through writing, it is a detriment to one’s future,” says Payne. She aspires to work in education and believes leadership is all about leading by example. “When others see a living example of a leader, it allows them to think they can succeed too,” she says.  She calls former United States Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice her living example. “Reading her biography in high school made me realize we were raised similarly, says Payne. “Her story showed me when people utilize their gifts to help others; they can go much further in life.”

Nolen, Watkins, and Payne are just a few of the 109 students identified each year through the RMHCSC scholarship program. Since 1990, RMHCSC has awarded more than $4.5 million in scholarship funds to local students. It allows students the opportunity to think about their future, makes college attainable and helps students inspire others.  Scholarships are awarded through four programs, including: RMHC /AAFA, RMHC/Asian Pacific American Students Increasing Achievement (ASIA), RMHC/Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources (HACER) and RMHC/Scholars.

For more than 35 years, RMHCSC has been committed to providing comfort, care and support to children and families in Southern California.  RMHCSC is dedicated to creating a community where children and their families embrace life and healing with a sense of hope, enthusiasm, courage and joy by operating six Ronald McDonald Houses, Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, two Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and a Community Grants Board. This year, another 109 student scholars and future leaders from across Southern California will be celebrated during the annual RMHCSC scholarship luncheon that will take place in May.

San Bernardino Has a New King and Queen for 2015!

San Bernardino King and Queen

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- The San Bernardino Black Culture Foundation is happy to announce the 2015 Senior King and Queen.  They are Joyce Payne and Mansie Booker and they will be crowned Friday, February 6, 2015.  This is an invitation only event, so if you would like to attend, please contact Margaret Hill at (909) 864-3267.

JOYCE PAYNE – SENIOR QUEEN

Joyce Payne was born in Los Angeles, CA, and attended school there.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in History and her Administrative Credential from California State University, San Bernardino, Pre-Doctorial Studies at Mercer University, Macon, GA and Master of Educational Administration from Boston State College.

Joyce has been a teacher, vice principal and principal for the San Bernardino City Unified School District and recently retired.  She was a long time principal at Dr. Howard Inghram Elementary School but completed her career at Davidson Elementary School.  She also taught in Peach County, Georgia, and Middlesex Community College, Burlington, Massachusetts.  She also served on the school board in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Joyce is very active in the community.  She is a member of Temple Missionary Baptist Church where she is the director of Christian education.  Other activities includeCharter member of National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., Delta Rho Chapter, Our Children Sing, Board of Directors, Former Member, California State University Alumni Board, Lifetime Alumni Member, California State University, San Bernardino. She also participates in Community Outreach Programs addressed parenting, literacy, career development and goal setting.

MANSIE BOOKER – SENIOR KING

Mansie Booker, Jr. was born in Burlington, North Carolina on March 18, 1944 to Rev. Mansie Booker, Sr. and Gladys Marie Booker. He is the youngest of two children. At the age of four his family relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina where he received his elementary education at St. Monica’s Catholic School. He graduated from J.W. Ligon High School in 1962 and entered the United States Air Force.

In addition to the above, Mansie has been an active member of the Highland Family YMCA and Temple Missionary Baptist Church where he continues to use his production skills. Annually Mansie provides the Black Culture Foundation a video profile of the Humanitarian of the Year awardees. He also videotapes the annual Black Rose event.

Mansie is widowed and is the father of two children, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He attended Yuba College, The University of Maryland, University of Oklahoma and The University of Minnesota and is a graduate of the Community College of the Air Force.

 

 

 

 

BOTTOMLINE: “Change is Occurring…and Hope is Alive!”

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Publishers commentary by Wallace J. Allen

Dr. King’s Birthday requires us to annually measure the amount of successful change that has occurred since his death. Our friend Celes King IV was quick to say, “Perception is reality.” I think we can agree that the election of Barrack Obama to President of the United States boosted the image of Black men across the planet. It must be considered that if “Black lives matter” is a truer statement today than when Dr. King was alive, that Barrack Obama being President adds to that truth!   In several years, by 2016, people aged ten years and younger will represent members of an exclusive group. The only President of the United States that they will have experienced is a Black Man.  They, having witnessed such proof, will grow up expecting that Blacks can and will excel. That is a major long term benefit of Mr. Obama being President.  He is an inspiration. He inspires young Black children to want to be like him, to become important and influential members of society. He also shows the non-Blacks who harbor the false impression that “Blacks can’t” to understand that “Blacks can” and that society benefits when “Blacks do!  We know that low expectations generally come true.  Increased expectations allow room for increased participation and performance.

Increased expectations will cause among other things, a greater competition for participation and an expectation that winning is for the well prepared. Just because the world is more willing to accept that a Black man can do, does not mean that it will be easier for him to do; however, easy is not a requirement!

As we measure successful change, access to opportunity for those who have been deliberately denied that access, is an issue. The imagery of success is great for perception, but reality requires a job count and a measurement of education and quality of life. Access to education, jobs and quality of life for most Americans, Blacks in particular, has diminished since Dr. King’s death. The image of the most prestigious office holder on the planet, being racially disrespected under the guise of politics has been a reminder to “old school” witnesses, that racism is alive and that to some Republicans, greed and or “white privilege” is more important than the welfare of the Country.

So, in closing, I will say that the fresh sheets and pillow cases of opportunity make the American bed look better, but the mattress is still lumpy with racism, making a peaceful night hard to come by. Change is occurring but the need for hope is very alive!