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Miss Debutante, Courtney Draper the $115,000+ woman

The Debs-In-Waiting will compete for Miss. Debutante 2019 in one calendar year.

By Jurry Taalib-Deen
Journal Staff Writer

For 18 weeks, 27 young women participated in various workshops that would prepare them for womanhood, such as etiquette, college preparedness, fitness, and ballroom dancing.

They would attend an Etiquette and Health Luncheon, a Mother/Daughter Luncheon, and participate in a talent show the week leading into the Debutante Cotillion.

The Debutantes, and their fathers, share a dance before announcing Miss Debutante 2018.

There were a few back stories that occurred during those 18 weeks, as well as at the Fifty-third Annual Debutante Cotillion, held on Saturday May 26, in the Great Hall of the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.  Sponsored by The Toledo branch of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., a few of those stories had never occurred in the 53 years of the event.

Those back stories included four sets of twins participating in the event, 13 year old William Palmer Jr., escorted his sister Essence, and won the first ever, Junior Mr. Escort, and all of the debutantes had scholarships totaling seven million dollars.

But the highlight of the night was the crowning of Miss Debutante, Courtney Draper, who earned over $150,000 worth of scholarships.

Courtney Draper, and her escort, Jose Martinez perform the Waltz prior to being crowned Miss Debutante 2018.

When each of the contestants’ bios was read aloud, Ms. Draper, a recent graduate of Toledo School for the Arts, bio was extensive, as well as impressive. Besides being on the honor roll, since kindergarten, belonged to several organizations including National Honor Society, and the Toledo Excel Scholarship Program.

Tariq Hardiman presents LaTosha Forbes, mother to Centraya, with a gift; a recently added tradition done by the escorts.

Further, two of her 10 volunteer services included Flint Water Drive, and Toledo Children’s Hospital.

Ms. Draper was accepted at Bowling Green State University, Wright State University, Eastern Michigan University, and Wittenberg University. She will be attending Wright State in the fall majoring in human resource management, and dance.

“I can’t believe they called my name,” she told The Toledo Journal. “I was like, oh my God, they called my name,” she said.

Miss Debutante 2017, Sara Taite Trail, crowns Courtney Draper, Miss Debutante 2018.

In addition to winning Miss. Debutante, Ms. Draper also won first place in the Outstanding Talent competition by performing a contemporary dance. Ultimately, she said, “I want to be a professional dancer.”

To go along with the title of Miss. Debutante, Ms. Draper won $3000. First runner-up, Nakiya White, won $2000, and second runner-up, Christa Parker won $1000.

Outstanding talent winners were, Courtney Draper, Keyara Edwards, who did an original spoken word piece, and Krista Parker, who performed a science experiment.

Ramona Stephenson won Miss Congeniality, and was awarded with a watch from Henry Triplett, owner of Henry’s Jewelry.

Mr. Escort was Justin Moore, who was awarded $300. And the first ever, Junior Mr. Escort was William Palmer Jr, who was awarded $100.

Receiving The President’s Community Scholarship Awards for $2000, were Simone Black, Marissa Dzotsi, Kennedy Harper, Essence Palmer, and Christa Parker.

The members of The Toledo Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc.

City of Toledo hosts Annual Pumpkin-A-Rama

City of Toledo Pumpkinarama | The Toledo Journal

By Michelle Martin, Journal Staff

Toledo citizens gathered together as parents, goblins, fairies, and  princesses at Ottawa Park on Saturday, October 20th, at the Liz Pierson Open Air Shelter in Ottawa Park from noon until 2 p.m. This was the 10th Annual Pumpkin-A-Rama sponsored by The City of Toledo’s Department of Recreation.

Phyllis Johnson, who has attended a few Pumpkin-A-Rama events in the past says, “I love when the time comes around for the Pumpkin-A-Rama. Its just an awesome, awesome  for the family. And I’m enjoying it!”

City of Toledo Pumpkinarama | The Toledo Journal

A mother who attended for the very first time, Kaitlynne Grey,  says “It’s nice. Really nice. The kid’s favorite part was the horse ride. They really enjoyed it.”

Children and even a few adults were dressed in Halloween costumes to take advantage of the FREE festivities provided by the City of Toledo. Families could ride in a horse carriage around the park. Free pumpkins and apples were given to the community and candy was collected as an early trick or treat! There was also a line for buttery popcorn, donuts of many tastes (including apple donuts!). Of course there was a line for the famous fall drink, apple cider.

City of Toledo Pumpkinarama | The Toledo Journal

DJ services were provided by Michael Baginski from Decorative Sound, which kept the Pumpkin-A-Rama fun and relaxed. Children and adults danced to many songs and DJ Michael Baginski’s voice over kept the crowd hype, happy, and involved.

Toledo’s FREE Pumpkin-A-Rama is planned and put together each year by The City of Toledo Department of Parks and Recreation. All food and drinks were purchased from various vendors.

City of Toledo Pumpkinarama | The Toledo Journal

City of Toledo Pumpkinarama | The Toledo Journal
Rihanna_knighten, age 3, stands with her big brother, Romaile Knighten, age 7

Aaron Meyers, Division Supervisor of Department of Recreation explained, “The purpose of this event is to bring the community out and to enjoy the fall atmosphere. We just want to bring smiles to kids’ faces and have a family-fun event that all citizens of Toledo can enjoy together.”

International Human Trafficking Conference exposes, fights the dark world of sex trade

International Human Trafficking Conference | The Toledo Journal
Dr. Celia Williamson, left, director of the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, talks to conference attendees, Dr. Jesse Bach, and Lisa Belton.

By Jurry Taalib-Deen
Journal Staff Writer

“Purchasing someone online, from the dark web, for sex trafficking, is as easy as buying a pizza,” Dr. Jesse Bach, of Cleveland State University, told The Toledo Journal. Dr. Bach, on long with numerous professionals from around the world, presented their research about Human Trafficking, and how to combat it, during a two day conference, held on Thursday, September 20, and Friday, September 21, in the University of Toledo’s, Lancelot Thompson, Student Union.

Over 100 workshops were conducted addressing issues either, indigenous to Toledo, and the United States, or more specifically, in countries such as India, or on the continents of Europe, and Africa.

Several workshop topics were, “Romance and Manipulation,” “Characteristics of Federal Offenders Sentenced for Child Molestation and Sentencing Outcomes,” “Early Childhood Sexual Abuse and Foster Care: A Survivors Perspective,” and “Parents as Perpetrators: Intergenerational Sex Trafficking in Rural India.”

Dr. Celia Williamson, director of the Lucas County Human Traffic Coalition said the ripple effect of the conference has been felt around the world. Laws have been enacted, task forces developed, and programs put into place to help victims, and apprehend perpetrators. One of her goals, she said, is to live stream the conference in parts of the world, such as Africa, that’s plagued with human trafficking,

On the topic of the local Pastors accused of human trafficking, Dr. Williamson said, some church members seem to be more concerned with how the girls, who were trafficked, contributed to their situation, as opposed to the fact that Pastors were involved with underage girls for the sex trade.

“No matter what, the lives of the children come first. If the Pastors are found guilty, some can pray that their souls go to heaven, but their asses are going to jail,” she said.

Motivated by the fact that her stepfather was a human trafficker, was a social worker who, asked that her identity be kept anonymous. She said she grew up watching her stepdad manipulate, and abuse her mom. She learned first-hand the tactics, and language used by perpetrators of human trafficking.

“Traffickers will say things such as, ‘No one else will take care of you, or your daughter, but me.’ Traffickers will also become the main supplier of toys, school supplies, and other things, in a child’s life, in order to keep the mom dependent, and loyal to him.”

Dr. Tyffani Manford Dent, a licensed psychologist, has been working in the field of sex trafficking for over 20 years, conducted a workshop on, “Not #MeToo: How Gender-based Work and Micro/Macro-aggressions Impede Trafficking Survivors of Color from Accessing Services.”

International Human Trafficking Conference | The Toledo Journal
Dr. Tyffani Manford-Dent explains how the #MeToo movement has intentionally neglected African American women who are victims of sex crimes.

She explained that, although the #MeToo movement was developed by an African American woman, for African American women, once it went nationally, and accepted by white women, African American women haven’t gained the benefits of it.

Dr. Manford-Dent said the services, and benefits that have come about, due to the movement, have been geared toward white women.

Counseling, and other services for the victims of any type of sexual crime, has been established in white suburban areas. Even those who work in the field are recruited from white suburban areas, Dr. Manford-Dent said.

“Sadly, some survivors lives, white suburban women, are more valued then African American women who are survivors of sex crimes; which is all deliberate,” she said.

“The first step at resolving this problem is recognizing it exist; only then can we move forward to resolution,” Dr. Manford-Dent said.

Lo Salem Missionary Baptist Church hosts Pastor Lewis Savage’s 25th Pastoral Anniversary

The Toledo Journal Lo Salem Pastoral Anniversary
Lo Salem Missionary Baptist Church congregation hosted the 25th Pastoral Anniversary for their Pastor, Lewis Savage, on Saturday, June 10, 2018, held at Bethlehem Fellowship Center, 1430 Bancroft.

By Jurry Taalib-Deen
Journal Staff Writer

Lo Salem Missionary Baptist Church congregation hosted the 25th Pastoral Anniversary for their Pastor, Lewis Savage, on Saturday, June 10, 2018, held at Bethlehem Fellowship Center, 1430 Bancroft. The celebration featured a variety of performances, as well as the presence of local religious leaders.

There was a dinner, praise dancing, a gospel comedy show, and the siblings of Pastor Savage sang to him.

In attendance for the celebration was Minister Chris Bryd, and Bishops MC McGee, and Randal Parker.

Arnisha Bush, president of the Pastor’s Aid Committee, told The Toledo Journal why the recognition and celebration was important.

The Toledo Journal Lo Salem Pastoral Anniv
Pastor Lewis, and First Lady Norma Savage, far right, poses with the Pastor’s Aid Committee.

“We have a God fearing man who stepped up to the challenge of leading the church when his father, and our late Pastor, Harvey Savage Sr. passed,” she said.  “I’ve been a member all my life, and I follow a man, who loves God, and is always available to the members of the church,” Ms. Bush said.

Judy Savage, member of the Pastor’s Aid Committee, and sister to Pastor Savage said, “He has done so much for the church, me, and my children; that’s just a few reasons why he deserve this celebration.”

First Lady Norma Savage has also diligently served God in the leadership for 25 years, as well as the members of Lo Salem. Although being the wife of Pastor Savage, she has worked in number of capacities around the church, including Sunday school teacher, fundraiser, and janitor.

“I feel great, and honored by the celebration today,” Pastor Savage said. “One of the greatest things that I or anyone can do is spread the Gospel of Christ throughout the world; there’s no work greater.”

Future plans at Lo Salem Missionary Baptist Church include expanding the church facility, opening a center for senior citizens, and youth, and expanding the Martin Luther King Jr. Kitchen for the Poor, Pastor Savage said.

The 54th Annual Debutante Cotillion

Cotillion 2019

By Michael Daniels
Journal Staff Reporter

Saturday, May 25, at the Stranahan Theater in the Great Hall, Faith Rogers was crowned Miss 2019 Debutante at the 54th Annual Debutante Cotillion. Ms. Rogers, who is a senior at Saint Ursula Academy, was overjoyed, yet in disbelief, and surprised, that she had just won the top honors of the evening. She said, “I feel really thankful and happy, and I’m so grateful for my mom and for everything I’ve experienced in the Cotillion. I didn’t even think I was going to win, and honestly, I had only prayed and hoped for third place ( the second runner up to the crown).”

Instead, she won the top spot, which comes with a generous college scholarship, and Ms. Rogers is headed to Kent State University. There she plans to major in political sciences with a minor in pre-law. Her ambitions are to become a lawyer in family court and eventually a judge in the Juvenile detention area.

About the evening itself, she added, “Tonight was beautiful and all the girls did such a great job and they all looked so pretty and nice, and once again I’m just so happy!”

Other winners for the evening were the second runner up to the crown Whitney Hughes from Jones Leadership Academy of Business, and first runner up Lauren Baker from Springfield High School.

Cotillion 2019
Talent Award winners were (L-R) K’Allie Riley: Bowsher High School, Lauren Baker: Springfield High School, and Faith Rogers: Saint Ursula Academy

Mr. Escort of the year was John Reynolds with runner up Russell Chapman III (L). Miss. Congeniality Award sponsored by Henry’s Jewelry went to Chloe Smallwood from Perrysburg High School. Talent Award winners were K’Allie Riley: Bowsher High School, Lauren Baker: Springfield High School, and Faith Rogers: Saint Ursula Academy.

Cotillion 2019
John Reynolds won Escort of the year (R) shown here with Escort of the year runner up, Russell Chapman III (L)

Seven Debutantes also received a University of Toledo President Community Scholarship. They were Cinecere Blackburn and Daviana Estis: Toledo Early College, Jasmine Fox and Alexi Moore: Springfield High School, D’Asia Grover: Scott High School, Kiaea Gowdy: Start High School, and Chloe Smallwood from Perrysburg High School.

In addition an array of certificates of appreciation given out to Debutante, Escorts, and the Debs-In-Waiting.

2019 Debs-In-Waiting present Pearls to the 2019 Debutante.

The evening consisted of a two-hour ceremonial program beginning with a welcome address from Cotillion Co-chairman Karen Jarrett and greetings from The Toledo Club President Dr. Frances Collins. This was followed the presentation of Miss 2018 Debutante Courtney Draper and the introductions of the judges.

Next came the presentation of the Debs-In-Waiting, they are Junior High School girls who aspire to be Debutantes in their senior year. All dress the same on beautiful red formal gowns they marched in the hall and presented themselves before the judges. They were followed by the main event, the presentation of 2019 Debutantes.

One by one dress in stunning white formal gowns they were escorted into the hall by their fathers and introduced to the judge’s table. Then the father took their daughter to their Escort for the evening, young men wearing white tuxedos and white shoes. Once they were all assembled in the hall, the Debs-In-Waiting presented each debutante with a string of white pearls and put them on around their necks.

This was followed by the couples dancing the traditional Cotillion Waltz all around the room. Next came the parents Waltz, this is where the fathers danced with their daughters and the Escorts dances with the Debutantes mother. It all was a very formal and elegant affair, the only thing missing was the champagne!

After the dancing was the award ceremony when all the awards were presented culminating with crowning if Miss Debutantes 2019.

The Annual Debutante Cotillion was started in 1965 by The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club’s, Inc., The Toledo Club. It’s purpose, according to a statement published by the Toledo Club of the NANBPWC, Inc, ” Is to present outstanding young ladies to society clothed with the finer thoughts of living and endowed with a complete sense of responsibility. To accomplish these ends The Toledo Club has added life Skill workshops, Financial Scholarships and Etiquette training whereby the Debutante can step on the threshold of womanhood with success”.

Cotillion 2019
The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club’s, Inc., The Toledo Club.

To enter into the Debutante program the ladies must meet a rigorous list of qualification and be recommended to The Toledo Club by their High School Counselor. After which the ladies are invited to an Introductory Tea where they learn all they have to do to become a Debutante and how to win the crown.

It’s a year-long process that includes screening, Etiquette Seminars, workshops, photo sessions, talent rehearsals, a talent show, and of course the final night of the Cotillion. At each event, they are rated on a point system all the way to the end. The lady who accumulates the most points by the end becomes the next Debutante of the year.

Mrs. Wilma Brown the chairman of the Cotillion for forty years said, “What’s special about the Cotillion is that we give the young women and men the opportunity to go to college and the chance to learn about other things that they don’t experience in their everyday lives. I really hope the Cotillion continues because it is a worthwhile event in our community.”

Pastor Melvin Barnes celebrates seventeenth Pastoral Anniversary

The Toledo Journal Greater Faith Fellowship
From left are Pastor Melvin, and his wife, and co-Pastor, Jeanette Barnes, and Robin Wilson, fiancée to Pastor Floyd Smith Jr. of Calvary Baptist Church.

By Journal Staff Writer

Greater Faith Fellowship Church, 1544 S. Byrne Rd, celebrated the anniversary of their Pastor, Melvin Barnes, as their leader of 17 years. Held on Sunday, May 27th, the milestone event featured local leaders delivering the Word of God, and given testimony about the character of Pastor Barnes.

Patrice Poellnitz, lead trustee, told The Toledo Journal the anniversary celebration started on May 20 when some of the members of Friendship Baptist Church attended the service, while their Pastor, Bishop Dwayne Tisdale, delivered the Word.

May 27th featured two services. Elder Stephen Bufford of Greater Faith Fellowship delivered the morning’s keynote address, while the afternoon service was conducted by Pastor Floyd Smith, Jr. of Calvary Baptist Church.

“Our theme is ‘honoring the leader that watches over our soul,’ and the success of our destiny comes from our Pastor,” Ms. Poellnitz said.

During Pastor Barnes’ 17 year tenor, Ms. Poellnitz said she has seen a tremendous growth in her spiritual development.

“Trust in God, and put Him first in your life, and you will see changes in your life,” she said.

“I’m speechless, and impressed,” Pastor Barnes said, regarding the work put into the celebration. “They put a lot of work into this event, with very little assistance from me,” he said.

Pastor Barnes said that although the congregation is young, they were able to successfully plan and execute the anniversary that people from much more experienced congregations, would be able to do, and that he said, made him proud of his members.

Greater Faith Fellowship Church’s future plans include reestablishing themselves in the inner city in order to better serve the community.

“By having a church, within the inner city, we’ll be able to be a bigger blessing to the community,” Pastor Barnes said.

Indiana Missionary Baptist Church celebrates the 73rd Anniversary

Indiana Missionary Baptist Church celebrates the 73rd Anniversary The Toledo Journal

By Michael Daniels
Journal Staff Reporter

For two Sundays in a row, February 17 and 24th, Indiana Missionary Baptist Church celebrated its 73rd Anniversary with an afternoon service at the church. On the 17th, Rev. Dr. Jerry Boose from Second Baptist church was the main speaker. On the 24th, Rev. Dr. Willie Perryman from Jerusalem Baptist Church did the honors. Both ministers brought members of their congregations, as well as, their church choirs to join in on the celebration.

The theme of this year’s program was from Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything, Instead Pray about everything,” This theme was most appropriate because it reaches back to Indiana Missionary Baptist Churches humble beginnings.

It was in the mid-forties when Rev. W. J. Stephenson, the pastor of Central Baptist Church in north Toledo realized that his church was going to lose its property due to an upcoming freeway project that was going to slice through the heart of north Toledo. He became worried that many of his parishioners that lived in the central city would have a difficult time getting to church after the expressway was built.

Faced with this dilemma, Rev. Stephenson did what a man of God should do! He turned to his Heavenly Father for help, and his help came. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he decided to resign his position as pastor of Central Baptist and open a new church in the central city where the majority of African Americans lived during that time period. He then contacted a fellow pastor, the Rev. E. J. Benton along with some established church Deacons, Trustee, pastors, church Mothers and other church-going people for a meeting.

At this meeting which took place on February 20, 1946, at 819 Ewing Street in the central city, Indiana Missionary Baptist Church was officially organized and Rev. W. J. Stephenson became the church’s first pastor. This was a position he would maintain until he passed away in July of 1959. Also present at this meeting were a group of teenagers, and unbeknownst to everyone at the time in this group, was one who was the new church’s hope of the future. A young man by the name of John E. Roberts who was there that night, would grow up, and one day become one of Indiana’s most influential and beloved ministers.

As the new church progressed it quickly began to grow and it wasn’t too long before everyone became aware that they were going need a larger space to properly worship the Lord. Now they had a mission fulfill. So, they started a building fund to build a new church building. Soon enough money was raised to purchase a property at 640 Indiana Ave. 

Missionary Baptist Church celebrated a mission fulfilled as they marched singing God’s praises all the way from the old building on Ewing Street to the new one on Indiana Avenue. Since that time the congregation has continued to grow and so has the original structure. In time came the addition of a ground level sanctuary, the upper-level sanctuary, the Stephenson-Roberts Hall and a spacious parking lot to accommodate its large growing congregation.

Since the passing of the founder, Rev. W. J. Stephenson in 1959, the church has had several pastors including the Rev. T. Wiggins in 1960, and the Rev. F. H. Alexander 1961 through 1963.

On January 21, 1965, the young teenager, who attended that first organizational meeting in 1946, the Rev. John E. Roberts became Indiana’s fourth pastor. He later elevated his status in ministry by graduating from the Toledo Bible College in 1975 and was Valedictorian of his class. From this point on he became known as Rev. Dr. John E. Roberts.

Under his leadership, Indiana Missionary Baptist Church has become one of the most influential churches in the city. They are known for their community involvement for reaching out and helping others.

As for Pastor Roberts, he is a minister who lives his ministry, 24 hours a day, in and out of the pulpit. If you meet him out in the world, he’s probably going to ask you two questions. One, ‘your name,’ and two, “are you saved’? He’s a man who understands that his main purpose in life is to help us ordinary folks find out way into God’s grace and into his heaven.

At his church, he is a continual inspiration to others and has also mentored dozens of young men in the field of ministry, many who have gone on to have their own churches.

As the church celebrates its 73rd anniversary, he had these words of divine wisdom for his congregation, he said, “Truly God has blessed us and smiled upon us, and I thank Him for it. We must never forget that Central Baptist gave birth to Indiana. Thank God for Rev. W. J. Stephenson and the pioneers like him that were with him paving the way. We must constantly pray for our church and its ministry of redemption in a lost world as we constantly live our lives in a way that honors Christ and his teaching.”

UT Excel sponsors 35th Annual Conference For Aspirating Minority Youth

By Michael Daniels
Journal Staff Reporter

On January 26, The University of Toledo’s office of Toledo Excel and the UT Joint Committee presented the 35th Annual Conference for Aspirating Minority Youth. This year’s theme was, ‘Onward and Upward, Persisting Through Barriers and Obstacles’.

Indeed, a fitting topic for the ambitious minority youth of today. Like most of us, when we dream our dreams, we only dream the good things. We never imagine something bad might happen, or something or someone may try to stand in our way. For many this is knowledge that only comes with age and experience.

This year’s conference sought to give the young folks a heads up, as well as, solutions to the problems they might face as they venture into the world to pursue their goals in life. Understanding that those situations which seem impossible to solve at the time and try to block your way can be overcome with persistence and sheer determination is valuable knowledge. Knowing these facts and other methods of survival is definitely an advantage in life and that was the message of the day.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn drove this messages home even more during his address, telling the students, “You must learn how to persist. Persisting requires us as aspirating minority youths to be willing to change and adjust to our environment. You must persist through barriers.”

Adding, “Someday you will encounter something or someone, who tries to keep from reaching your goals. You must understand that you must not let anything or anyone come in between you and that, which you are designed to do. Persist through the barrier and discover your why. Why you are here and what you are designed for and find your inner light. As we pursue our greatness in the face obstacles and barriers never forget that deep inside if us there is a light that will always be there, and even in our darkest hour we must turn inside and connect with that light and let that light shine,” he said.

Dr. Strayhorn is the Founding Chief Executive Officer of, ‘Do Good Works Educational Consulting LLS’. He has written over 10 books and is internationally recognized as a student success scholar and the foremost authority on issues of equity and diversity.

Following Dr. Strayhorn, in the second session of the program, was speaker and UT graduate Christopher Scott who showcased his new book, “7 Secrets to Surviving College.” Mr. Scott who has a Masters of Education Degree said, ‘I’m here today to uplift and teach our high school and college bound students the 7 secrets that it takes to navigate college and be successful in this world. I say take no losses in life. Mr. Scott is the founder of Reach to Teach National, an organization that provides motivational service to youth across the country.

An estimated crowd of over 350, seventh through 12th grade students, parents and members of the community attended this annual free event.

Knowing that his students would benefit from the Excel program, Dr. Romulus Durant, Toledo Public Schools (TPS) superintendent, brought students from his TPS program called, ‘Young Men and Young Women of Excellence,’ a peer to peer mentorship group.

Dr. Durant said, “I try to get our students involved in community activities so they can become a part of the community, and one day contribute even more to the community as an adult. We want our youths as well as all youths to continue to aspire. We are TPS proud and very excited to be here today.”

Toledo Excel was established in 1988 and is a community project bringing various groups together for a common purpose. That purpose is to help underrepresented students including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans go to college, be successful there and graduate.

Director of Toledo Excel is David Young

The first Annual Conference for Aspirating Minority Youth was held in 1985 and continues to grow in popularity ever since.

The current Director of Toledo Excel is David Young.

Junior High Afro-Ball; a graduation into maturity

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The Toledo Journal | Junior High Afro-Ball
Being sharply dressed didn’t stop, from left, Dmarea Rankin, Julius Akins, Jaylon Akins, and Damond Robinson from dancing.

By Jurry Taalib-Deen
Journal Staff Writer

Although at first glance, the 35th annual Junior High Afro-Ball may seem like it’s just a dance, but according to organizers, it’s much deeper than a dance; it’s a graduation into maturity.

Over 950 students throughout the Toledo Metropolitan Area, and representing Toledo Public Schools, Charter, and Parochial, attended the annual event held at the Seagate Convention Center in downtown Toledo, on Saturday, May 19. Themed, “The future belongs to those who prepare,” the ball was just the icing on the cake, with preparations beginning months in advance.

Junior High Afro-Ball

Weeks leading up to the ball, letters were sent out to area high schools asking the principals to nominate two students, who would represent their school, at the 2018 Afro-Ball. A total of 40 kids, from 20 different schools were then invited, along with their parents, to attend a banquet at Scott High School, days before the event. Students were celebrated for their character, and accomplishments. Both students, and parents were reminded that Grace Community Center, and their partners, wanted to work with the students the coming year, as well as throughout high school, in order to better prepare them for college, or being career ready. Then, while at the ball, those 40 students had a special VIP section reserved for them.

Junior High Afro-Ball
Dancing, centered, and facing each other are Danae Brown, with her back facing, and Mariah Searcy; Jada Willis, left, looks on.

Elaine Page, executive director of the Grace Community Center, which organizes the event, told The Toledo Journal, “Besides being a celebration of diversity, which we have diverse groups of students, in attendance, it’s also about togetherness,” she said.

Junior High Afro-Ball
Besides dancing, kids could play various games. Patrick Huggins, left, and Lonnie Williams play a game of Jenga.

Ms. Page added by saying that the more important part about the Afro-Ball comes when Grace Community Center, as well as their partners, pairing up with the schools, the principals, the teachers, students, and parents, to help them be better prepared for the future.

“Tonight is rites of passage,” she said. “The students are here, without their parents, and they have to make the right decisions, while here, without them. The correct decision making process will help them later on throughout school, and life,” Ms. Page said.

Junior High Afro-Ball
From left are, Bryce Harbaugh, chairman of Grace Community Center Board, Jay Shavers, youth director at Grace Community Center, and three Afro-Ball attendees, Carmello Taite, Moriah Robinson, and Reona Pryor-Allen, and Elaine Page, director of Grace Community Center.

Bryce Harbaugh, chairman of Grace Community Center’s Board said, “If we can get students to think it’s cool to be responsible, and mature, then we would’ve helped make a better person.”

AOA Senior Safari at Toledo Zoo

AOA Senior Safari at Toledo Zoo | The Toledo Journal

By Jurry Taalib-Deen
Journal Staff Writer

For 25 years, the Area Office on Aging, AOA, along with their community partners, have been hosting the Senior Safari at the Toledo Zoo. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle, while re-visiting the zoo, all in an entertaining environment is the purpose of the event. But for 2018, participants received much more when the entertainment on Tuesday, September 18, was Motown’s The Vandellas.

AOA Senior Safari at Toledo Zoo | The Toledo Journal
Billie Johnson, President/CEO of AOA, welcomes the seniors to the event, while Jerry Anderson, retired media personality, and the Master of Ceremony, looks on.

Before being entertained by the legends of Motown, Billie Johnson, President/CEO of AOA, told The Toledo Journal that attendees were first, encouraged to participate in a one mile walk around the zoo. September is “Falls Prevention Month,” she said, and the walk is to bring awareness to falls, and ways to prevent them. Also, the walk encouraged exercising, as one of the ways to help build muscle, and bone, both of which, could help decrease the chances of falling.

“We’re hoping those who participate in the walk, each take at least 10,000 steps today,” Mrs. Johnson said. “One of our partners, Silver Sneakers, donated 100 pedometers, so seniors can keep track of their steps,” she said.

Sarah Vandevender, a pharmacist, said, various things can contribute to falls, such as dizziness. Some medications, as well as having low sodium, and potassium, could increase the chances of falling. Low magnesium, she said, could lead to muscle cramps, which could also increase the chances of falling.

AOA Senior Safari at Toledo Zoo | The Toledo Journal
Pete Peterson rolled the dice to see what exercise he had to do. Lunges weren’t a problem for him, being that he works out regularly.

“Always, speak to your pharmacist, or primary care physician, first, about taking preventive measures,” she said.

Following the one mile walk, Silver Sneakers, had four stations set up along the route to the Malawi Event Center, where vendors, lunch, and the performance by The Vandellas would take place. At each station, seniors would roll large dice that had six different exercises on each side. Jumping jacks, lunges, and leg lifts, were among some of the exercises that participants were encourage to do. Every senior that participated in an exercise, at each station, would receive a free gift.

AOA Senior Safari at Toledo Zoo | The Toledo Journal
The Vandellas made their way through the crowd, people stood up and danced, including Billie Johnson, President/CEO of AOA, seen on the left.

Once inside the Malawi Center, numerous vendors focusing on healthy lifestyle, or services offered to seniors, passed out information about what they offered, gave health screenings, or distributed free fruit.

After a healthy lunch, attendees were treated to 30 minute performance by The Vandellas, in which many seniors could be seen dancing to the group’s songs.

AOA Senior Safari at Toledo Zoo | The Toledo Journal
Lucy Mayer had to get a dance in with the Vandellas.

At the entrance into the zoo, seniors prepare for their one mile walk. The goal of the day was each walker tries to reach 10,000 steps.