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Volunteer work nets DC honor for Memphis 8th-grader

VolunteersTennessee-600WASHINGTON, D.C. – M'Lea Scott, a 14-year-old Craigmont student, was one of Tennessee's top two youth volunteers of 2013 honored in the nation's capital Monday night.

Scott, an eighth-grader, and Hannah Bryant, 17, of Columbia were saluted for outstanding volunteer service during the 18th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

M'Lea and Hannah – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix. The setting was an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

TSD annual salute to Women of Excellence also has forward spin

WOE-01Packed house, high energy, smiling faces and poignant reflections – all accurate descriptors of The New Tri-State Defender's 2013 Women of Excellence (WOE) Champagne Brunch and Awards Celebration last Saturday (April 27).

Despite a rainy start to the morning, the Memphis Botanic Gardens still provided a picturesque setting for the sixth edition of the WOE gala.

Another dynamic group of African-American women were saluted for their continued contributions and community efforts. And throughout the tribute there were reflections on the life and legacy of the late Dr. Maxine Smith, who passed on Friday – the day before the event.

Once homeless teen parent named student speaker for Southwest commencement

myckelle p williams-250Once a homeless teen parent with a crisis pregnancy, she is now a wife, mother, business owner, speaker, mentor and motivator with a testimony of overcoming the odds. Southwest's 2013 commencement student speaker, Myckelle P. Williams, is proof that the best diamonds are created through pressure.

She overcame the odds from a background of neglect and abuse and now helps empower women to overcome the traumas of their past.

Williams volunteers in many community programs focused on helping women cut off the dead roots of their past, re-generate new roots and then cultivate a healthy legacy for themselves and the next generation.

Dr. Maxine A. Smith got the job done

MSmith-1-600A civil rights icon to many, Dr. Maxine A. Smith was first and foremost a friend of longstanding to Peggy Cox Brewer.

Dr. Smith, who died last Friday (April 26) after an extended illness, is practically synonymous with the Memphis Branch NAACP (having served for decades as executive secretary) and education (longtime Memphis Board of Education commissioner and a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents).

Brewer, the widow of former State Rep. Harper Brewer, acknowledges and appreciates all of Dr. Smith's career accomplishments. They are just not the first things that come to mind.

‘Three Doctors’ to the rescue

3docs-1-600The Freedom Award winning and nationally acclaimed "Three Doctors" – Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt – established residence for a day (April 30) at Frayser High School as part of Teach for America Week.

In addition to the Three Doctors' appearance at Frayser, the FedEx supported and sponsored week included FedEx executives, city officials and other notables spending time as guest teachers in classrooms throughout Memphis.

At Frayser High, students got the "real deal" from the three brothers who transcended the hard streets of "Brick City," aka Newark, N. J. Each shared his story of coming up without a father in the home, difficulties and bad decisions. Collectively they detailed the "Pact" that helped propel them to better lives through education.

Neelys attend White House Correspondents’ dinner

Robertson-Gina-and-Pat-600Memphis celebrity couple Pat and Gina Neely rubbed shoulders with the power elite during Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, D.C.

Politicians, Hollywood celebrities and journalists were representative of the guests in attendance at the annual event at the Washington Hilton hotel in Washington, D.C.

"It was an amazing experience for us that will always be a great memory," said Gina Neely, co-host of the Food Network's highly rated "Down Home with the Neelys" cooking show and spokesperson for the George Foreman® Grills Weight Loss Challenge.

Brooks to keynote Mothers of the NILE dinner

Henri-Brooks-200A longtime advocate for children and families, Shelby County Commissioner Henri E. Brooks' quest for fairness and justice coincides with the mission of Mothers of the NILE, a group she will address Thursday, May 9, during the grassroots advocacy organization's annual Mother's Day Dinner at First Baptist Church-Broad, 2835 Broad Ave.

The dinner is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The theme is "Who Can Impact the Future of a Child? Look in the Mirror."

"Our annual dinner is held to recognize and honor those who work consistently and diligently to support our youth. Our key note speaker, Henri Brooks, will help us not only reflect on but also re-ignite our individual commitments," said Sondra Howell, chairwoman of Mothers of the NILE.

Attention high school seniors with EMT or paramedic dreams

29EMT-400There is a national shortage of emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics and an even greater shortage of minorities who choose emergency medical services as a profession. This is a statistic that Rural/Metro Ambulance wants to change.

For the last six years, Rural/Metro has offered a scholarship program for Tennessee minority high school seniors who are interested in furthering their education to become an EMT or paramedic.

Students who receive a scholarship will attend an EMT school in Shelby County. After completing the two-year program, successful students will then be ready to take the national test to receive their EMT license.