Divine Changes president Joan Preston of West Oak Lane remembers the first Champions for the Extraordinary Excellence Award program the non-profit hosted recently. It took so much work that she and her committee were skeptical about doing it again.
After the ceremony Mayor Michael Nutter encouraged Preston to keep the initiative going.
Consequently, another roster of honorees was celebrated by the non-profit group recently. The awards ceremony was held at the Shiloh’s Omega Banquet Room, 1500 Master St. in North Philadelphia last Saturday.
This year’s honorees were members of Concerned Black Men Stephen Lyles of Mount Airy, James Newton of Pottsgrove, Harvey Crudup of Cheltenham and Hank Wilson. Also honored was Northwest CommUnity Coalition for Youth or NCCY chair Isabella Fitzgerald of West Oak Lane and Marian Anderson House founder Blanche Burton-Lyles of South Philadelphia.
Each honoree received several awards. These included citations from Gov. Tom Corbett, Mayor Michael Nutter, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady and a City Council honor sponsored by Councilwoman Marian Tasco. They also received the Divine Change trophy and a City of Philadelphia paperweight courtesy of the mayor’s office.
The program opened with the Rev. Marc McCoy’s introduction of the mistress of ceremonies, the Rev. Roslyn Davis. The Rev. W. Joe Harvey gave the invocation before Deacon Gary Hunter delivered the biblical reading.
“We members of Divine Change are glad to honor those gathered here today,” said the Rev. Deborah Murgerson in the welcome address.
Minister Raymond DeShields delivered his a capella interpretation of “Faith” by Vanessa Bell Armstrong. His selection was well received by the largely Northwest Philadelphia audience before Harvey blessed the food.
Wilson spoke for CBM members in accepting their awards. He shared his own personal anecdote about once being a juvenile delinquent. He said it was meeting former CBM chairman Marq Temple of Mount Airy that changed his life.
In her remarks Fitzgerald thanked Preston, the Divine Change board, and her own family who were gathered at one of the tables. She singled out her two sons Raymond and Derek who she called “my inspiration.”
“This is truly an honor,” said Burton-Lyles as she accepted her awards. “Marian Anderson was a humble and unbelievable person. She saw something in me as a pianist and encouraged me. She was a woman of grace. When I was growing up I was always around good manners. I feel that good manners are always in order. Marian Anderson represented this.”