May 25, 2024

Mar. 12—The Fred Douglass Economic Development Corporation hosted an awards banquet Saturday, March 9, celebrating volunteerism and community service.

Kenya Etim recognized the Legacy Dragon Volunteers for their many efforts.

“Lincoln Park revitalization Phase 1 is underway because of the unrelenting dedication of those Legacy Dragons Volunteers in bolstering awareness and raising funds,” she said. “Through the launching of Neighbors Helping Neighbors by Letitia Horace, District 1, homes are getting much needed renovations. Through the efforts of Michall Williams and the Juneteenth Committee, history is being celebrated annually. And by the Fred Douglass Alumni Association memorializing historical facts, history is being preserved.”

Lue Ann Williams received the Community Service Award. A member of the FDCDC, Williams helps organize community volunteers to keep the Lincoln Park area clean by picking up trash on a monthly basis. She organized the Back to School Bash for District 1 children, in which school supplies, backpacks, undergarments, clothing and shoes were given.

“This award is not just for me. It’s for all the volunteers that hung in there,” she said. “Once they got started, we volunteers were ready to keep it up. And this is for all the volunteers; we made it.”

Hallie Peoples was named the Honorary Parade Marshal.

“I don’t know how much I’ve done, but tonight, you all have blessed me so,” Peoples said. “This is truly a blessing. This goes to everyone in Jacksonville, because I know that most of you know that I have said, ‘I need you to do this for me.'”

The Business Award was presented to Walmart. Store Manager D’Angelo Watson, with assistance from Debra Weatherall, accepted the award.

“Walmart is wonderful,” Weatherall said. “It values its customers. It values its employees. Thank y’all so much.”

Watson said he had requested help with the speech because he had just found out Walmart had won.

“This is very important and we’re proud,” he said. “I can tell you that my face is on the front wall as you walk in the door, but there’s 300 people behind me that make it happen.”

Speakers for the evening included Brett Brewer, who spoke about the contributions of M.C. Wade to the Lincoln Park community; and Patti Williams Eden, who reminisced about her time as a sixth-grader, whose classes were held on the old Fred Douglass High School campus.

Jacksonville native and former pro-football player Marshall Johnson served as keynote speaker.

“When you have a community coming together and bringing what they have to the table, that means all of us are going to be better off,” he said. “That is a strong indication of a healthy, thriving, compassionate community.”

Johnson recalled a number of people who had an impact on his life through their work and volunteerism.

“So often we wait for the frustrated, dedicated few to carry the load for us,” he said, before encouraging those gathered to become involved. “The least thing you can do is encourage and show a little appreciation for their efforts. Sometimes, that’s the only currency some of us need, to be acknowledged, to be recognized for what we’re striving to do and know that it matters to you.”

For information about the Fred Douglass Economic Development Corporation, visit fdcdc.org.

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