By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE -“Our house is on fire, and we need to be firemen.”
This phrase was clearly affirmed by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro as he addressed guests at Friday’s 29th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast, hosted by Catharine Street Community Center. The energetic Molinaro was alluding to a sentiment uttered by the late civil rights activist icon, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. years ago in the face of blatant injustice and a host of other disabling words and actions in this country. They are themes that Molinaro, as well as many inside the Civic Center Plaza, felt and have worked relentlessly to change.
“Hatred, intolerance and anger exist in our homes and community; it all erodes us and is toxic,” exclaimed Molinaro. “It uses new tools today than it did in the past, but still very much exists.” He added, “We need to remember what makes us different is what makes us stronger.”
That fortitude was alive and well Friday morning at the popular Annual Breakfast. Here, once again community giants, who have ardently been working toward the very principles King espoused-peace, tolerance, non-violence, and love- were honored for their altruistic, ongoing efforts. This year’s Community Honorees included; Barbara Jeter Jackson, John P. O’Shea and Stephen M. Saland, each offered words of gratitude for the prestigious recognition.
“Let us not be silent to the things that matter,” said Saland, referencing one of many Dr. King’s riveting quotes. “Let’s reject narcissism and hatred; we desperately need one another in this time and to ask ourselves what we can do to stop the toxicity,” said Saland, a former New York State Senator who served from 1980-1990. “Can we not be civil to one another; why can we not do what our elected officials can’t do?” Again alluding to King’s words, Saland continued, “There is no time like the present to do right.” He concluded, “Let us do right and honor the legacy of Dr. King.”
Yet another person being saluted for his tireless work to keep Dr. King’s dream alive was Edward Summers, PhD, Guest Speaker for the event.
“Dr. King realized conflict was inevitable, but he believed in the beloved community, and that those conflicts could be resolved,” said Summers, a Marist graduate and the Executive Director of the Bronx Industry Council, an employer-led alliance, transforming how businesses, schools and community organizations develop talent pipelines in the Bronx.
And because so much of what King stood for was the youth and our future, once again two outstanding high school seniors were recognized as Youth Honorees. This year’s recipients were Anthony J. Deyoe, Stissing Mountain High School and Destiny N. Purvis, Poughkeepsie High School. Both were presented with Scholarships in memory of Dr. King.
“Never stop believing in yourself; never, ever give up, no matter what happens,” affirmed Purvis. “My job is to inspire the youth as well as future generations and let people like me see that they do have a chance to succeed.”