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RDP Seeks Nominations for the 2010 Roy Hord "Volunteer of the Year" Award

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The Roy Hord “Volunteer of the Year” Award is presented each year at Riverside Downtown Partnership’s (RDP) Annual Meeting and Award Ceremony.

This year’s gala event takes place Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Riverside.

The late Roy Hord was a former RDP Board Member who faithfully served in the community of Riverside for over 25 years.

The Roy Hord “Volunteer of the Year” Award is a special award that was established in 2003 in his honor, given to individuals who exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism. This person should be dedicated to the community and have a history of numerous hours of volunteerism in various areas especially working with youth. Past recipients include:

· The Roy Hord Family-2003

· Bill Gardner-2004

· Douglas R. Shackelton-2005

· Barbara Purvis-2006

· Geraldine Bowden-2007

· Dell Roberts-2008

· Nanci Larsen-2009 RDP is accepting nominations for this prestigious award.

Other outstanding achievements that will be recognized at this ceremony are Downtown Improvement; Arts & Culture; Downtown Public Event; Downtown Business Activity; Downtown Safety & Security; and Chair Award.

This elegant evening includes a social networking cocktail hour, a delicious dinner buffet catered by Marriott Riverside, an opportunity drawing, the awards ceremony, and ending with recognition of outgoing and incoming RDP board members.

Tickets are $50 per person, or $450 per table of ten. To purchase tickets or make a reservation call (951) 781-7335. RDP also welcomes any donations for the opportunity drawing. If you would like to donate an item please contact Natasha Ferguson at (951) 341-6550 or email rdpnatasha@ sbcglobal.net.

If you know someone deserving of The Roy Hord “Volunteer of the Year” Award, submit the person’s name and a description of why you feel they qualify as outstanding volunteer of the year (in 300 words or less). The deadline for nominations is Friday, Jan. 15, 2010.

Please send your nominations to:

Riverside Downtown Partnership, 3666 University Ave., Suite #100, Riverside, Calif. 92501,

or visit www.RiversideDowntown.org to download a form from the Web site.

Christmas Meaning: Giving When It Hurts

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Jobless father gives generously, even as his bank account shrinks

By Chris Levister –

Larry Eugene Dunbar knows something about intense and stressful situations.

Before the out-of-work Redlands engineer graduated from Ohio University, he managed to survive some of Cleveland’s meanest most unforgiving streets. Dunbar served as a medic and firefighter making less than $25,000.

Larry Eugene Dunbar of Redlands lost his job as an engineer in June. He and his family continue giving to the Salvation Army and other Inland charities even when it hurts.“Running into blazing buildings I saw some of the most inhumane conditions; chronic homelessness, domestic violence, gang fights, rape, drug use, muggings, scams and prostitution. By the time I started college I’d seen it all.”

That was until his 11-year-old sister Eliza died suddenly from a rare brain cancer.

“Her passing rocked my world,” he recalls. “God wasn’t supposed to take her before he took me.” Dunbar lost focus dropped out of college and for a year languished in and out of homeless shelters until he met a paraplegic man who’d lost his entire family in a tragic auto accident.

“After hearing my story, he gave me a $100 and put me on a bus back to Ohio University.”

What he learned from that experience says Dunbar is “there’s always someone worse off than you are. For Dunbar, his wife Sharmane and their three children, charitable giving means giving even when it hurts.

“It has always been very important to us to teach our children the “true” meaning of Christmas and with that said we usually try to do something for those in worst shape that we are.”

Normally the Dunbar’s “adopt” a family every year. This year however, has been a whole other story.

Like many others, with the economy failing as it is, the Dunbar’s are having an extremely hard time.

They had to ask a local food bank for milk, bread and other staples.

But in the depressing situation the Dunbar’s find themselves in, it only makes them want to try and give more. They decided that although the family did not have extra money to “adopt” a family this year, or buy new toys for toy drives they could still find a special way to help those that may not be as fortunate as they are.

Consistent with his beliefs on charitable giving, since late November every Friday Dunbar rolls up a wad of cash from his unemployment check and stuffs it in an Inland Salvation Army Red Kettle.

“Give to those less fortunate even when you’re having hard times yourself,” he said.

“My children asked to give away their toys that they no longer play with to those who need them, so everyone can have a Christmas. I am blessed at being able to watch my daughter wanting to offer her strollers, dolls and dress up clothes saying that some other girl might love them as much as she did.”

“And my oldest son willing to give up his GameBoy, Air Guitar and other toys he has collected since he was young that he loves, but is at an age that he no longer plays with them! Even my three year old has been helping hold up the bags and shaking his little head yes or no on whether or not he still really wants to keep something.”

“To my amazement I feel like this year we are helping more than we ever have even though we don’t have the income we have had in the past. I feel more blessed today than I have in a long time. Blessed in the fact that my children really grasp the concept of giving and not something they just say they understand.”

In the end it’s really simple says Dunbar. “I believe the more you give the more comes back to you.”

 

NAACP Holds Special Election

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San Bernardino NAACP recently held a special election for new officers of their branch. Elected were: Edward Corley as Treasurer, Cheryl Brown as President and Julius Hemingway as First Vice President.The San Bernardino Branch NAACP elected new officers in a special election held on December 21, 2009 at the New Hope MBC Family Life Center.

New officers elected were Cheryl Brown as President, Julius Hemingway, First Vice President, Connie Lexion, Secretary, and Edward Corley as Treasurer. Former President Jarman remains as Chair of Legal Redress, Housing, and Press and Publicity.

The election under approval granted the Branch by the National Board of Directors was conducted by Southeast Area Director Woodie Rucker-Hughes of the California State Conference. Notices were sent to all members whose memberships were current as of date as determined by the National Office. The election fills a void created when the regular election of officers was delayed due to development of circumstances beyond the control of the Branch. President Brown said that she will move towards elevating the profile of the Branch, and seek the help of Branch membership as well as that of various members of the community. Brown also states that in keeping with the mission of the organization, the Branch will step up its pace in advocating for or against those issues or challenges looked at as germane to the well being of the community.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. It’s one half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in the community.

 

Tournament of Roses Float Honors Tuskegee Airmen

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When the West Covina Rose Float Foundation decided to honor the Tuskegee Airmen with the city’s annual entry in the New Year’s Day parade, float designers turned to archivists at the University of California, Riverside for help.

UCR Libraries house the Western Region Tuskegee Airmen Archive, a growing collection of papers, photographs and oral histories of the pilots and others associated with the Tuskegee experience.

Charisma Floats, which is building the float designed by the award-winning Raul Rodriguez, contacted the UCR archive for information and photographs, including accurate profiles of the planes for painting and for patches and shields on the float, said Frank T, Scalfaro, chairman and president of the West Covina Rose Float Foundation.

UCR “was very helpful to help us achieve getting this information,” he said. The float, titled “Tuskegee Airmen – A Cut Above,” pays tribute to the service, bravery and commitment of the Tuskegee Airmen, Scalfaro said.

The Tuskegee Airmen, the group of African American pilots who trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, flew combat missions as bomber escorts in the European theater during World War II with few losses to enemy fighters. A total of 992 pilots graduated from the Tuskegee airfield courses. They flew 1,578 missions and 15,533 sorties, destroyed 261 enemy aircraft and won more than 850 medals.

University Librarian Ruth Jackson said UCR was pleased to assist the float designers and the West Covina foundation with their research.

“The honoring of the Tuskegee Airmen by the West Covina Rose Float Foundation with the beautiful float to be included in the 2010 Tournament of Roses Parade is another extension of national recognition and celebration of the many accomplishments of this distinguished group of African Americans during their World War II service and afterwards,” she said. “The unique role of the airmen and airwomen who broke race barriers in military aviation history and other areas of flight in later years, including commercial aviation and ultimately space flight, will be beneficial for minorities and the fabric of the nation for generations to come.”

The West Covina float – the city’s 12th consecutive entry in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade – will include 16 of the original Tuskegee Airmen as riders.

The riders and their cities of residence are: Harlan Leonard, Riverside; Isham “Rusty” Burns, Palm Desert; Dr. Robert McCoy (Rocky) Higginbotham, Rancho Mirage; Theodore Lumpkin, Los Angeles; Wilbert (Bill) Johnson, Los Angeles; Col. Louis Hill, Los Angeles; Mitchell Higginbotham, Dana Point; Oliver “Ollie” Goodall, Jr. , Altadena; Clarence (Red) Finley, Los Angeles; Jerry Hodges, Los Angeles; Larry E.

(Boon) Brown, Sacramento ; Dr. Thurston Gaines, Sun City West, Ariz. ; Robert Ashby, Sun City West, Ariz.; Dr. Granville (Duke) Coggs, San Antonio, Texas; Col. Charles E. McGee, Bethesda, Md. ; and Alexander Jefferson, Detroit, Mich.

The Western Region Tuskegee Airmen Archive includes oral history interviews with various of the airmen who will be riding on the float, including an interview with Goodall that can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/ucrwrtaa.

The archive also includes the papers of Mitchell Higginbotham which can be viewed, in part, online at

http://library.ucr.edu/content/tuskegee/findingaids/higginbotham.xml.

The archive, established in 2004, gathers the personal papers of pilots, mechanics, bombardiers and others who were part of the Tuskegee experience from their military service through careers as doctors, lawyers, judges, nurses, teachers, musicians and others.

“We’re interested in individual histories, not only from the Tuskegee years but also their contributions to society and their communities,” said Chuck Wilson, university archivist. “This archive is available for the public to get a better understanding of the Tuskegee experience and the people involved in it.”

 

Dreaming Of A Black Christmas

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Black families holding on to holiday customs in face of regions changing demographics

By Chris Levister –

The Christmas wreath hanging on the door of Ahmed and Assett Algotsson’s Riverside home is every bit traditional.

As if by magic, step inside to experience a decor set out to evoke strength and unity in Black families and communities. The fiery red, green and black Kwanzaa candles set the entrance aglow. Bright red shrouds from Madagascar used to celebrate the birth of Christ line the walls creating a dazzling backdrop for a 7-foot Christmas tree adorned with handmade African inspired ornaments.

In sharp contrast to the traditional images of a white snowy Christmas, replete with a Caucasian Christ child, majority inspired Christmas carols and White Santas, the Algotsson’s are reimaging Christmas and dreaming of a Black or at least Black-oriented holiday experience.

Increasingly Black families and faith commmunities are mixing Kwanzaa with their Christmas festivities recognizing their own images, symbols and cultural artifacts as something significant in the society at large. Pictured: Dr. David Sankofa Anderson, Rochester, NY.The vibrant colors, patterns and textures of different accessories unite an unexpected cultural mix of masks, raw silk curtains and an antique wrought iron bed frame. “We tell a thousand stories about ourselves and our experiences through the things that surround us,” said Asssett. “Color and texture move us spiritually and emotionally.” Fresh cranberry red Poinsettia plants in decorative clay pots from Ghana sit on curvaceous and sculptural furniture from the 1940s and 1950s. Brightly colored kentecloth table settings capture the timeless craftsmanship and imagination of African textile artisans.

Along with the familiar holly boughs and mistletoes the halls and rooms are decked with framed photographs of President Barack and Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall and family members wearing head wraps during past Kwanzaa gatherings.

A handcrafted Black Santa from South Carolina and a Haitian-inspired Nativity scene featuring three Black Wise Men and Madonna grace a stone and granite fireplace mantel. A handmade Christmas quilt made by Assett’s great grandmother preserves the family’s past.

Like the Algotsson’s, some families are substituting Kwanzaa, African and West Indian rituals for the traditional celebrations.

Others have created family traditions of their own to observe during the holiday season.

“Black families continue to celebrate Christmas in terms of its religious meaning,” notes Ahmed, a marriage and family counselor and expert on Black family. “But in a general sense, they’re recognizing their own images, symbols and cultural artifacts as something significant in the society at large.”

This recognition has manifested itself in many tangible forms.

“Increasingly, African American people have begun to think about the Kwanzaa principles of unity, self-determination and cooperative economics,” says Ahmed.

Kwanzaa celebrated over seven days between Christmas and News Year’s Day was created by Maulana Karenga, chairman of the Black Studies department at California State University in Long Beach.

Karenga saw the need to keep a sense of history and celebrate the values and principles of those people who struggled for justice and equality.

Concerned with the region’s rapidly changing demographics (Latinos expected to constitute a majority by 2015) Algotsson and his wife a school psychologist began to incorporate African and African-American decorations and customs into their Christmas in earnest after the birth of their children now ages 6 and 11.

As an educator Ahmed has taught the principles of Kwanzaa to young children and decided to teach his children.

“Increasingly they’re being bombarded with Latin influences,” recalling his daughter’s desire to serve tamales and menudo at last year’s Kwanzaa ceremony. “They learn about other people’s cultures, shopping, gift giving and materialism associated with Christmas. I wanted them to understand, celebrate and embrace our values, history and heritage as well.”

Algotsson says he talks with his kids about ujima (collective workand responsibility) and how they can apply it to everyday life.

“The gifts we give them are icons for the principles taught in Kwanzaa. The message is self sufficiency through teamwork. If every family practices these principles it will move us all ahead.”

As in the past, Black churches are mixing Kwanzaa with their traditional Christmas festivities to put more emphasis on community sharing and family togetherness.

On the culinary front , many Black families are adding hamhocks greens, cornbread, chitlins, sweet potato pies and other soul food favorites to the traditional ham, turkey and dressing Christmas fare. On New Years Day, the last day of Kwanzaa, the Algotsson’s plan to serve blackeyed peas, rice, greens, and gumbo for good luck.

The challenge facing our people, says Ahmed Algotsson is “not the defense of any culture or system, be it White, Latino, segregated or integrated; rather we have to preserve our own traditions of faith, work, responsibility and purpose, that we will be able to take our place wherever we are in the affairs of men.”

 

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