The Town of North Hempstead recognized African-Americans who had made a marked improvement on their communities, at the recent Black History Month celebrations at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury.
Themed “Black Excellence,” the event celebrated African-American entrepreneurs, with members of the town board choosing residents from their district to honor. Councilwoman Anna Kaplan’s honoree was Adrienne Vaultz, vice president of operations and finance for an IT recruiting firm. Vaultz, whose parents were from Selma, AL, learned at a young age the importance of education and to excel at all she did. As she got older, she learned that not everyone had the same familial support or opportunities that she did, which contributed towards her passion for encouraging youth. She has been part of many organizations that share a similar goal. In the 1980s, she started the Focus! Youth Organization, and she also serves as a youth leader at First Baptist Church of Great Neck and vice chairman of the Manhasset Great Neck EOC.
Councilman Peter Zuckerman’s honoree was Rev. Monte Malik Chandler, the senior pastor of Assembly of Prayer Baptist Churches of Metro New York, as well as the board of trustees for the Flemister House in New York City. The St. Anthony’s High School alum studied philosophy and played Division 1-AA football at the College of the Holy Cross, before going on to Rutgers University School of Law in New York and serving as assistant district attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. In 1997, he committed to ministry and attended Union Theological Seminary.
Also receiving honors were Betty and Bernard Hardy, Dr. Leon Mullen, Leonard “Sparrow” Llewellyn, Timothy Thurmond, Kenneth Gray and Lynette Batts.
The Feb. 8 event included refreshments from LL Dent, music and performances by Nori Rane, the “Yes We Can Community Band,” LND Dance Company, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, SUNY Old Westbury’s Step Tunes and children from the “Yes We Can” Community Center.
The Town of North Hempstead also partnered with Bethpage FCU and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc., Long Island Chapter to provide five scholarships to Hofstra University’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program.
“Black History Month is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to learn about and celebrate accomplishments of the culture,” said Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “This year’s theme of Black Excellence allows us to highlight and honor the influential entrepreneurs and business people in our community and recognize them for the major contributions they have made to our community and town.”
“This annual celebration of Black history is even more important this year as we reflect on Black Excellence and pay homage to Black Wall Street. Success and Black Excellence is an existing state of affairs yet often overlooked,” said Councilwoman Viviana Russell. “This year’s honorees are true examples of Black Excellence and their incredible contributions to our community make them very deserving honorees. Their success is our success.”