Beulah Hosts Black Achievers Award Ceremony

By RJ Smith

POUGHKEEPSIE – The City of Poughkeepsie’s Beulah Baptist Church hosted its Black Achievers Award Ceremony this Sunday afternoon. It was presented by the Social Action Ministry and honored seven African-American women for their achievements.

Among those awarded were Toni Llanos, Nicole “Su” McArthur, Sanaa Omondi, Rendesia Scott, Bettina “Gold” Wilkerson, and Joy Rene` Young. Present at the ceremony were Servant Leader Deborah Reeves-Duncan; Secretary Deaconess Marilyn-Ashe, Treasurer Michelle Tillery, and Pastor-Teacher Reverend Dr. Jesse V. Bottoms Jr.

Held at the climax of Black History Month, the ceremony welcomed a significant crowd. As stated by Reverend Bottoms, celebrations that take place in Black History Month have played a key role in preserving and pointing up the contributions and achievements of African-Americans throughout our history. Dr. Carter G. Woodson is responsible for organizing the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, as well as the organization of Negro History Week. It is through Dr. Woodson’s writings and organization skill that African-American history’s viability has been demonstrated via schools and colleges in the United States.

Mayor Yvonne Flowers takes the stand to address the crowd and award recipients with heartfelt words.
Mayor Yvonne Flowers takes the stand to address the crowd and award recipients with
heartfelt words.

Senior Pastor Debra Gause took the stage, drawing attention to several elected officials present in the audience. “Grace and peace everyone. I just wanted to quickly announce and acknowledge the elected officials in the building here to support all our honorees for the night.” Gause continued, “Congressman Pat Ryan, Senator Rob Rolison, county legislator Randy, county legislator Barrington Atkins, and we have all the way from the other side of the river, Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey. We have right here in our very own City of Poughkeepsie third ward council member Terriciena Brown, our fourth ward council member Ondie James, and our very own mayor of the City of Poughkeepsie Yvonne Flowers.”

Each of the honorees for this year’s award ceremony were selected for their remarkable achievements. The first honoree was Toni Llanos, a professional dancer, choreographer, and educator with three decades’ worth of experience. As stated in her biography, Toni has set her mission as helping students of all ages to discover their physical, mental, spiritual strength, as well as creative greatness through the arts.

The second honoree to accept her award was Nicole “Su” McArthur. Known as Su the Producer, she has established a distinguished social and community development wherever she goes. As described in her bio, McArthur grew up in the difficult environment of Brooklyn. McArthur has learned from direct experience with Democracy Now, WBAI Radio, Girl Scouts of America, and Junior Achievement of New York. She proceeded to enroll in the John Jay’s Justice Academy Dual Degree program as a result of her past experiences within the industry.

Sanna Marie Omondi, a Poughkeepsie native, is currently attending St. John’s University. Being of Kenyan descent, Omondi graduated from Highland High School one year early at the age of sixteen. Omondi stated in her biography, “I received numerous scholarships from school and others from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.” Omondi went on to self-publish her first book “Who I am and Who I was” on January 8th, 2023, available for purchase on Amazon.

Rendesia Scott, born and raised in the Brownsville projects of Brooklyn, New York, was encouraged to obtain her education by her late grandfather Richard Waymer. Scott described her late grandfather having repeatedly said to get her education first, as that is the one thing they cannot take from you. Scott achieved exactly that, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Connecticut in 1993; Scott subsequently earned her Master of Science from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1996. She is involved in her church, community, sorority, as well as the Mid-Hudson Valley National Pan-Hellenic Council (the Divine 9). Scott has additionally completed a second term of presidency, serving the Alumnae chapter of Mid-Hudson Valley Pan-Hellenic Council.

Bettina Wilkerson, nicknamed “Poet Gold,” is known as a poet, author, performer, songwriter, community “Activist”, voiceover artist, as well as a speaker and emcee. Wilkerson has lived with a chronic illness since she was a child, aiming to bring insight into human existence, love, dreams, challenges, and triumph. Poet Gold has received many awards throughout her career, including the 2022 Dutchess County Empowered Activist Award; the 2016 Dutchess County Executive’s Artivist Award, and was the Dutchess County Athena Award honoree. Having done many recitations, Poet Gold has had the experience of opening for Grammy nominees; Poet Gold has had the honor of speaking at organizations that include the Omega Institute, Self-Employment in the Arts, as well as the 2022 New York State Curriculum Development Network for English Language Arts.

Joy Rene’ Young was born and raised in Newburgh, NY. It stated in her bio that she spent many summers babysitting in the Bronx for her aunt, who worked as a teacher in summer programs. At the young age of fourteen, Young discovered a love for hip-hop, fashion, and home decor. Young has always held the belief in giving back to our community and youth. She has founded The Joy Club, an all-girls program that works with girls between the ages of fifteen to twenty and their parents. Girls who participated in that program were able to learn leadership skills and setting goals. Young has completed two degrees, one being in Electrical and Mechanical Technology; the other degree is in Business Management and Administration while having worked at IBM.

The ceremony was closed by Pastor Bottoms, who invited Mayor Yvonne Flowers to the stage. “This was a beautiful evening, and I want to congratulate all the honorees. I know many of you and all the great things you do in this community. We’re here to support you to continue on and I hope you continue to support me,” Mayor Flowers said. “I need each and every one of you to help make a difference in this city. Thank you to Reverend Bottoms for always giving me the support and encouragement. I continue to love you so very much. Bishop Gause, I love you also because you were both there in my corner when I needed you and so this is what we need to be together. So we can help stand together, unite, and do the best for our City of Poughkeepsie.”

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