Inspiring Their Community
Four extraordinary residents from the tri-county area will receive their earthly reward later this month when they are recognized as the 2016 African America Achievers.
Jaret L. Davis, Dixie Lee Hedrington-Miller, Gilbert Lancelot Raiford, Ph.D., and Ricky Wiggins will be honored on Wednesday, April 20, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. The event, sponsored by JM Family Enterprises and its automobile distributorships Southeast Toyota and JM Lexus, starts at 6:30 p.m.
A group of community leaders from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties selected the four from a pool of nominees. Among the judges were former achievers.
Past honorees are retired Boca Raton police Officer Wayne Barton, longtime Delray Beach community leaders Vera Farrington, Alfred “Zack” Straghn, Perry Stokes and yours truly, a 2006 recipient.
The late Jim Moran, automotive magnate, established the award 24 years ago to celebrate African Americans who serve their neighbors and communities in innovative and inspiring ways. Mr. Moran knew that their good works were valuable to the people they helped – but beyond that, he knew that their spirit of service was vital to our national character.
He would always say that people deserve recognition, especially those heroes who give so much and ask for so little in return. Along with saying “Thank You” to these honorees, it was his intent to encourage them to continue inspiring others in our community.
This year’s Achievers exemplify the role models Mr. Moran wanted to recognize.
Davis, co-managing partner of Greenberg Traurig law firm in Miami, has worked to build South Florida tech ecosystem, co-founding the eMerge Americas technology conference, which is preparing for its third year in Miami. His passion for technology turned into opportunity when he began his legal career during the dot-com boom of the 90s at Greenberg Traurig. He also volunteers as a mentor in the startup community, focusing particularly on African American-owned companies.
Hedrington-Miller is a professional artist who discovered there were limited creative outlets for people with disabilities, when looking for activities for her son who is deaf. She wanted to create change and founded Friends & Stars, a nonprofit dedicated to the well-being of South Florida’s special needs children and adults through arts programs. She also works with museums and public spaces to display her students’ pieces. Through her efforts, participants gain confidence and pride, and many have gone on to pursue a career in the arts. Hedrington-Miller’s talent and passion for teaching demonstrates that limitations can be conquered when you are willing to try.
Raiford has spent nearly 40 years teaching at the university level, most recently at Barry University in Miami. He studied social welfare and mental health policy, which propelled him to help underserved populations in his community. While tutoring children in Liberty City, he found that none of them had flown on a plane, eaten at a restaurant or traveled outside the county. So he raised money to take 25 youths on a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. to experience the city’s culture and history. Doc is a true resource to those in need and often takes people in to his own home and provides them with shelter and assistance.
Wiggins has been mentoring children in the community through the I Have a Dream Foundation for 20 years. I Have a Dream works with low-income students from elementary school to college. He motivates his students, fueling the desire to learn and think beyond their current environment to realize their full potential. He has encouraged, inspired and pushed a generation of young people to stay on the path toward completing school and pursuing higher education. Often times, Wigging is a father figure to children who lack a consistent positive role model. He knows every child is capable and deserving of a helping hand on their path to adulthood.
As a proud member of this African-American Achievers fraternity, I am happy to welcome these four new members and pledge to help them further Mr. Moran’s wish to continue inspiring others in our community.
- Ron Allen can be reached at 561-665-0151 or crallen@Delraybeachtribune.com.