Foundation dinner promotes diversity
By Cari Hachmann
Gospel grooves from The Light Band poured into the room as more than 200 community supporters settled into their seats at the Portland Observer Foundation’s first Community Services Award Dinner inside the Double Tree Hotel in northeast Portland on Friday.
Warm mingling and chatter came to a hush as KOIN 6 Anchor and Master of Ceremonies Ken Boddie welcomed the party and introduced the Rev. Dr. W.G. Hardy Jr. for a brief prayer.
Portland Observer’s Mark Washington opened the ceremony, acquainting the audience with staff members of the 43-year-old newspaper and recognizing their contributions. He shared the event’s purpose, which was to acknowledge the Portland Observer mission in promoting cultural diversity and pay tribute to community service leaders.
Spoken word poetry by Timothy Phillips Jr. and an endearing speech on community building by keynote speaker Commissioner Amanda Fritz along with a fundraising opportunity commentated by Roy Jay moved the night into the official awards ceremony.
Honorary Awards were handed to surviving family members of beloved coach and educator Phil Walden; businessman, youth advocate and public servant Harold C. Williams; and active community advocate and youth violence prevention leader Robert Ingram.
Advocates for cultural development in disadvantaged and minority communities honored were La’tricia Tillman of the Department of Human Services, Pamela Weatherspoon of Legacy Health Systems, Cyreena Boston of the Portland African American Leadership Forum, Andrae L. Brown of Lewis and Clark College, Karanja Crews of Portland Public Schools, Rakeem Washington of Portland Public Schools, Cobi Jackson of Wells Fargo Bank, artist Sunshine Dixon, Simone M. Brooks of S. Brooks Associates and Kory Murphy of NW Business Consultants.
Community Service Awards were given to Ron Herndon of Albina Head Start, John Jackley of the Portland Development Commission, Charlene Williams of Portland Public Schools, former Sen. Avel Gordly, TriMet’s Mary Fetsch and Bruce Watts, Corliss McKeever of the African American Health Coalition, and Cinna’mon Williams of Home Forward.
Six students from the Portland Metro area were awarded scholarships for their outstanding works as young contributors to their schools and community.