Published On: Fri, Mar 1st, 2019

Making a Difference Around Their Communities

Boca Raton, FL – As the number of people diagnosed with mental health issues such as depression rises to new highs, one local organization is doing its part to help by serving those without insurance.

For the past 22 years, the Association for Community Counseling has been providing free or affordable psychotherapy to the poor.

I had the honor of joining some of the founders and members at their anniversary luncheon recently where they honored Dr. Merrilee Middleton, one of their charter members and the matriarch of mental health education in Palm Beach County.

The Boca Raton resident’s passion and dedication sparked and encouraged conversations that today impact the lives of many in our community. Weary of insurance companies dictating the length of time a patient may be treated, Dr. Middleton and a group of other mental health professionals left another practice and formed the nonprofit organization.

Among the list of distinguished guests were Rita Thrasher of Boca Raton’s Promise, Dr. Roz Rice, Helen Babione, and Bunny Salomon, president of the Association for Community Counseling.

Attendees had an opportunity to send video messages to Dr. Middleton, who is battling Parkinson’s.

A highlight was a stunning performance by His People Honors Choir from The King’s Academy Conservatory of the Arts.

Fresh from performing on Broadway Classics in Concert at Carnegie Hall, the students entertained the audience with a patriotic selection of timeless tunes such as The Andrews Sisters’ Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B, God Bless America and You Will Be Found from the Original Broadway Cast of Dear Evan Hansen.

Tuesday’s opportunity for this group of young people was more than a performance – it was a cultural life experience.

Another group of local celebrities deserves kudos after they battled it out on the dance floor recently, all in the name of raising money for scholarships.

The popularity of the Dancing With The Stars TV show gave an idea to the ladies of the South Palm Beach County Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., to host the fundraiser.

Nine local celebrity dancers paired with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Ballroom in Boynton Beach to perform their dance routines. They showed off – or braved through – as they did the Hustle, Merengue or Cha-Cha on the dance floor at the Shirley & Barton Weisman Community Center in West Delray Beach. And it was all for a good cause.

Three judges, including Delray Beach police assistant chief Javaro Sims, awarded scores to each dance team. The dancers also earned points through audience donations.

The Rev. Jovan Davis, pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Boynton Beach, took home the top trophy. He literally could have held church there Saturday night as most of the attendees were his parishioners.

Kiwana Prophete, former principal of Carver Middle School and director of Extended Learning at the School District of Palm Beach County, finished second place, and Village Academy’s fearless leader LaToya Dixon placed third.

Other dancers were Alcolya St. Juste, a local lawyer; Michele Lockhart, a police officer with the school board; health and fitness guru Rosa White; Michael Coleman, director of the Neighborhood & Community Services for the City of Delray Beach; Boynton Beach Mayor Steven B. Grant and Jarvis Prince, a firefighter/paramedic for the City of Boynton Beach.

This super-duper fun event was sold out. In fact, they had to bring in extra chairs and it was the talk of the town for a few days.

The Deltas put on an amazing show.

C. Ron Allen can be reached at crallen@Delraybeachtribune.com or 561-665-0151.

 

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