Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
February 23, 2017 5:43 p.m.
Mayor Robin Lentz delivered two proclamations on behalf of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) at the beginning of the FBCC’s Regular Meeting held on February 21, 2017, designating February 2017 as African American History Month and March 2017 as Take Stock in Children Month. At the end of the same meeting, Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint four individuals to fill city advisory board vacancies:
- Jayne Paige – Greens and Oversight Committee
- Karl Ashley – Board of Trustees, Firefighters’ and Police Officers’ Pension Plan
- Mike Spino – Historic District Council
- Joy Behan – Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee
City proclaims February 2017 as African American History Month
Mr. Stanley Lofton received Mayor Lentz’ proclamation urging all citizens especially during the month of February to recognize and honor the significant role that African Americans have played in shaping the nation’s diverse history and remarkable culture.
Mayor Lentz indicated that Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, initiated “Negro History Week” in 1926. Over the years that week grew into “African American History Month.” Initial response to the event was lukewarm, with only a few state and city Departments of Education participating. But Dr. Woodson was not deterred. He contended that the teaching of African American history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society.
Over the years, Dr. Woodson’s goal has been broadly recognized and celebrated around the country. Today “African American History Month” recognizes, honors and records the historical contributions and achievements made by Americans of African descent in the Armed Forces, Architecture, Arts, Business, Civil Rights, Economics, Education, Entertainment, Exploration, History, Law, Literature, Medicine, Music, Politics, Science and Sports.
In accepting the proclamation from Mayor Lentz, Lofton thanked her and the FBCC. “I humbly accept this proclamation,” he said, “with a deep sense of gratitude to those who deem this recognition worthy on behalf of the African Americans of Fernandina Beach. I thank you for this profound act of recognition.”
Take Stock in Children of Nassau County marks 20 years
The City of Fernandina Beach officially recognized the month of March 2017 as “Take Stock in Children Month.” This non-profit organization, established in 1997 to provide unique educational opportunities for deserving, academically talented, low-income students (many from minority families) to help them escape the cycle of poverty through learning. During their 20 years of operation, the program has delivered mentoring and complimentary college scholarships to more than 500 Nassau County students.
Program participants enroll in middle school, continue through high school and include transition into college. Students who are selected for the program must meet high expectations and accountability requirements. Every student must sign a contract committing to abide by the program’s fundamental rules: stay in school, maintain good grades, attend weekly mentor meetings, remain drug and crime free, and exhibit good citizenship.
Take Stock in Children volunteers operate within 8 Nassau County schools, aggressively promoting 100% high school graduation rates, offering scholastic guidance and preparing students for the rigors of college. Today the program is mentoring 137 Nassau County students in pre-college, while 135 county participants are in college with their tuition paid entirely by Take Stock in Children of Nassau County, Inc. College scholarship monies raised locally are matched by the state of Florida, in effect doubling the size of local donations.
In accepting the proclamation, Executive Director Andrea Cummings thanked the commission and invited local citizens to participate in March celebrations to benefit the scholarship fund. On March 2, 2017 events will kick off with the “First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Light Up a Life Gala” and “Silent Auction” at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. She thanked the community for 20 years of providing hope and support for Nassau County’s children. For more information on the event and Take Stock in Children of Nassau County, visit http://www.takestocknassau.org.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.