By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – Devan Robinson has been attending the AME Zion Church of Newburgh ever since he was a young child…as far back as he can remember. The experience has been life-changing.
“They have been great to me,” reflected Robinson, who will be studying Computer Science at Orange County Community College in the fall.
“They have always treated me just like a family member.”
Saturday afternoon, in the basement of that Church, continued signs of that potent, familial impact could be seen, as Robinson, along with Miracle James, were recognized with scholarships. The awards were in memory of former Reverend Twila Rucker Caines who passed away in 2014. Playing a pivotal role in the mission of The AME Zion Church, Rucker Caines was a symbol of perseverance and community involvement as well as a commitment to excellence. The recipients both reflected that similar spirit and dedication.
“I want to thank everyone at AME Zion Church for all they have done for me, nurturing me into the woman I am today,” said James, who aspires to be a child psychologist while pursuing her education at SUNY Albany in the fall. “I want to thank my family for always supporting me; this scholarship means the world to me, as it allows me to pursue my dreams.”
In addition to the Scholarships granted to James and Robinson, other youth AME Zion Church members and recent college graduates were also honored. They included; Russell Barrett, Taurus Johnson, Chante Coppedge, and Michael Spencer. Each continues to view the same Newburgh-based AME Zion Church as a strong foundation to and inspiration for their motivations and successes.
The first-time scholarship event also featured guest speaker, Mr. Darwin “Coach” Shaw. A physical education teacher and multi-sport coach at New Britain High School in Connecticut, Shaw further is a co-author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker as well as recipient of a host of community service awards. However, it’s not his lengthy list of credentials that Shaw is most proud of; rather, it’s his unwavering faith and path God has placed in front of him.
Coming from an extremely challenging background, Shaw could have easily chosen to go down the wrong road; however, the guidance he got from adult role models, helping him to see his potential, would not allow that option.
“All of us have a race to run, but you have to be faithful and loyal to the Great Man who has put you here,” emphasized Shaw. “There are always going to be people who can turn you the wrong way, but the key is to find those who can turn you the right way.”
Not one to have a prepared speech, Shaw relayed to his listeners how the day’s “message” came to him listening to a song as he drove through the streets of Newburgh. It was titled “Love is the Message.” From there, the remainder of his words simply flowed.
“We are always being tested,” said Shaw. “We just need to keep believing and acknowledging Him, and things will work out.”