Published On: Mon, Mar 11th, 2019

Setting an Example Through Community Involvement, Leadership

Boca Raton, FL – Four extraordinary community champions from the tri-county area will receive their earthly rewards next month when they are officially recognized as the 2019 African-American Achievers.

Award-winning radio personality James Thomas, HIV/AIDS Activist Jasmin D. Shirley, coach, mentor and community servant Webber J. Charles, and accomplished painter and muralist Addonis Parker will be honored on Wednesday, April 24, at the Broward County Convention Center.

The event, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is sponsored by JM Family and its subsidiaries Southeast Toyota Distributors and JM Lexus. It is open to the public and will feature live musical entertainment, catered refreshments and a moving awards presentation.

An independent panel of community leaders from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade Counties selected the four from a pool of nominees received from throughout South Florida after an extensive public outreach campaign. The selection committee included former achievers.

Past achievers include retired Boca Raton police officer Wayne Barton, long time Delray Beach community leaders Vera Farrington, Alfred “Zack” Straghn, retired educator Perry Stokes and yours truly, a 2006 recipient.

Automotive magnate the late Jim Moran established the award 27 years ago to celebrate African-American leaders for their exceptional contributions toward building stronger communities in South Florida.

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 asked 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. Thomas, entrepreneur and midday radio host, uses his business success to help develop the professional talents of others. He has served as a mentor for countless young people eager to get into the business and staged events to fund scholarships for them.

Shirley, senior vice president of Community Health Services at Broward Health, has revolutionized the way South Florida cares for people with HIV/AIDS. Known for her dedication, passion, and relentless determination to provide quality healthcare to the most vulnerable and forgotten, her work spans 32 years of dedication.

Charles, director of Student Achievement at Breakthrough Miami, motivates middle school students from underserved communities in Miami-Dade County with tools and opportunities to achieve their goals and get ahead. His tuition-free academic enrichment program is creating opportunities for numerous young people to be great leaders in the future.

Parker, this giant of a man, not just because he stands six feet eight inches, has been brightening and inspiring the Miami-Dade community through the arts for more than a decade. He teaches art to at-potential youth at his Art Forever Studios in Liberty City and has been instrumental in the renaissance of the Overtown community thorough art.

JM Family will contribute $10,000 in each Achiever’s name to the South Florida charity(ies) of his or her choice.

This year’s contributions will bring the total donation made by JM Family to more than $600,000 on behalf of 160 individual African-American Achievers.

By honoring these four community champions, JM Family is showing the community who the real heroes are.

By most people standards, a hero is someone who strives mightily and selflessly toward a goal that benefits many, rather than himself.

In my eyes, each honoree certainly fits the description better than the sports figures, entertainers, and tycoons who so often are seen as heroes.

As a proud member of this African-American Achievers fraternity, I am happy to welcome these for new members and pledge to help them further Mr. Moran’s wish to continue inspiring others in our community.

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

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