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2007 mlk winners

Honorees from left are: Lt. Beverly Elliott Morrison, Reginale Durandisse, Roma Kapadia and Edith Bush, executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee, who accepted the award for the group.

Reginale Durandisse

With $250, a dream and a handful of supporters, Reginale Durandisse founded For the Children, Inc. eight years ago to fulfill a need for after-school care in Lake Worth. The nonprofit organization began in 1999 serving 25 elementary school children. Today, it provides tutoring, homework assistance, music, dance, computer training, conflict resolution, field trips and other services to more than 320 children ages 5 to 18 at four sites in Lake Worth, Lantana and Boynton Beach.

For the Children, largely funded by the Children’s Services Council, operates a morning tutorial program at Maddock Park in Lantana for middle school students and an after-school program at Osborne Community Center for middle and high school students. It also operates after-school programs at the old Osborne School and at Barton Elementary School (temporarily housed at the old Congress Middle School).

Durandisse, chief executive officer of For the Children, developed the vision for the organization in 1998 when her previous nonprofit employer, which had provided some after-school services, dissolved. She was determined to continue providing structured after-school activities to keep youths off the streets, out of trouble and from failing school. In addition to her work at For the Children, Durandisse, a native of Haiti, founded the Haitian Citizens United Task Force in 2002 to empower Haitian Americans and immigrants through naturalization, voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts and public forums with elected local, state and federal public officials.

She currently serves as the president of the task force’s board of directors. In 2003, she also funded Tribune, a one-hour Saturday afternoon radio program to educate the community in areas including childrearing and family issues, immigration and the law. Guests are interviewed in English, Creole and Spanish. Durandisse holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Florida Atlantic University. She has received several awards for her work, including the Giraffe Award from the Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Roma Kapadia

Roma Kapadia has a deep interest in shaping the community in a positive way. She has spent numerous hours volunteering and serving in leadership roles in various organizations despite having to care for her mother who suffered a stroke in 2004 and her ailing father who died last year of leukemia, eight months before Kapadia also lost her maternal grandmother. She moved to the U.S. from India in 1997 with her family when she was 14 years old. After a year of middle school, she attended Palm Beach Lakes Community High School where she graduated in 2002. While never missing a day of school, she excelled and was chosen the most outstanding student in math, English and science.

She has volunteered in the Social Work Department at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Azalea Court Nursing Home, Okeeheelee Nature Center at Okeeheelee Park, the Palm Beach County Library and for the American Heart Association. Since enrolling at PBCC, she has continued her academic excellence. She is currently treasurer of Phi Theta Kappa honor society at the Palm Beach Gardens campus where she served as secretary in 2005-2006. She also is first vice president of service for the Dream It, Do It Club and works as a math tutor in the Student Learning Center, which allows her to encourage other students whose first language is not English. She is pursuing an associate in arts degree. She hopes to become a pharmacist and continue serving the community and making a difference.

Lt. Beverly Elliott Morrison

Lt. Beverly Elliott Morrison is a woman of extraordinary energy. She has done exemplary work in the area of community service and for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, where she has arranged tours of the correctional facilities for over 20,000 youths in hopes of deterring them from the pitfalls of crime. She graciously gives of her time in many organizations and community projects. She often canvasses the streets of West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and Boynton Beach, encouraging at-risk youth to get an education and make better choices. She has volunteered to feed the less fortunate, helped Habitat for Humanity construct homes and taught a Junior Achievement class.

For eight years, she has helped sponsor underprivileged youths travel to the National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community. She also implemented a teen listening summit at the conference to give the youths an opportunity to express themselves and seek guidance from the influential achievers invited to participate. Her extensive list of community involvement includes president of the Minority Law Enforcement Council of Palm Beach County, charter board member of Central Palm Beach County Kiwanis Club and board member for the Urban League of Palm Beach County. She is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, charter member of the Stop the Violence Coalition, board member of Knights of Pythagoras, board member of Raising Our Self Esteem (ROSE) and former president of the Bob Mitchell Sr. Little League, Inc., among many others.

She was appointed by former Attorney General Bob Butterworth to the advisory committee for the National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community, a collaborative effort sponsored by the attorney generals for Georgia and Florida. Morrison has received several awards and special recognitions, including African American Achiever for 2000 by JM Family Enterprises, Kiwanis Club’s Outstanding and Devoted Service Award, Minority Law Enforcement Council Presidents Award for Outstanding Community Service, Outstanding Community Service Award from the Imperial Men & Women’s Club of Palm Beach County and the William Boone Darden Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service. She holds certificates in law enforcement and corrections from PBCC.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee

The principles that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught are being passed on to future generations in Palm Beach County by the work of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee. For decades, the committee has been on a mission to disseminate information, educate the public and promote awareness and understanding of the works, accomplishments and ideals of Dr. King.

The committee formed in 1971 as the Black Educators Caucus with a focus on sponsoring a remedial tutorial program in cooperation with the Minority Mental Health Association. The group changed its name in 1981 to reflect its expanded programs and its new focus: the annual January weeklong birthday celebration of Dr. King. The event includes essay, art, performing arts and photography competitions open to all K-12 children in public, private, charter and parochial schools. In addition to the competitions, the week includes interfaith religious services, tennis and basketball tournaments, a gospel fest and candlelight services. The week culminates with a scholarship breakfast attended by more than 700 people.

The committee’s work goes beyond the week-long activities. It provides a year-round program for inner city, low income youth to learn ways to build self-esteem, create peace in their lives and develop a respect for a diverse community. In 1995, the committee established the Martin Luther King Care Givers Program, which began with a two-year startup grant from the Robert Woods Johnson and the Community Foundation. The project provides care giving to people 55 and older. The group led the effort to establish the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Landmark Memorial at Currie Park in West Palm Beach, which has become a gathering place for numerous events and a popular site for tourists and visitors. The idea was to create a place that commemorates Dr. King’s legacy by continuing to tell his story, keep his dream alive and remind the public of how Dr. King worked to ensure the civil and human rights entitled to everyone.

More info - MLK Story in Perspectives Newsletter

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