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    Black Culture Foundation to honor eight heroes

    The Black Culture Foundation of San Bernardino will honor eight local heroes Friday, Sept. 26. They are, from top to bottom: Commitment To Service Award Winner Pastor Gwendolyn Rose, Humanitarian Award Winner James McCombs and Black Rose Award winners Velda Griffin, Terrence Stone, Roy Mabry, Lea Michelle Cash, Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds and Beulah Pitts.

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) – The San Bernardino Black Culture Foundation will honor eight local heroes Friday, Sept. 26 at the 19th Annual Black Rose Awards.

    The Black Rose Awards program presents three types of awards: Humanitarian Award, which will be given to James McCombs this year, the Commitment To Service Award to be received by Pastor Gwendolyn Rose, and Black Roses for Lea Michelle Cash, Beulah Pitts, Roy Mabry, Terrance Stone, Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds and Velda Griffin.
    The event begins at 6 p.m. in the National Orange Show – Valencia Room, 689 South E Street, San Bernardino. It starts with a social hour, followed by dinner and the ceremony at 7 p.m.

    Each award recognizes the recipient has given significant service to the local Black community.
    The Humanitarian Award recognizes the person whom the selection committee feels has gone farthest beyond the call of duty to show kindness to others. His fellow members of the Inland Center Kiwanis Club estimate McCombs spends about 30 hours a week volunteering.

    “James McCombs epitomizes the role of a true Kiwanian,” said his nomination, which was sent in by a fellow Kiwanian on behalf of the entire chapter. “He’s dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.”
    McCombs does this as a mentor to the Key Club at Cajon High School, where he teaches community services and leadership skills to students. The Key Club is a student-run organization affiliated with Kiwanis International, and mentoring these youth is one of many duties McCombs performs as a Kiwanian.

    McCombs also is chairman of the scholarship committee for Inland Center Kiwanis, and in this role visits nine high schools and middle schools to seek applicants for Kiwanis scholarships. He reviews these applications, selects recipients and presents them to graduating seniors during their commencement ceremonies.

    When he’s not working with high school students, McCombs keeps busy helping a much younger group. For the past 18 years, he has served as a member of the steering committee with the March of Dimes/Walk for Babies and has served as a coordinator and facilitator, overseeing registration for this event.

    Mc Combs has also volunteered his time over the past fifteen years to support the Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House, by collecting “pull tabs” from aluminum cans and turning them in for cash to a recycling center. This effort has generated thousands of dollars for the Ronald McDonald House.

    Another committee on which McCombs serves each year counts the relays ran during the Relay for Kids run held at Sylvan Park in Redlands. He also participates in the relay.

    McCombs frequently volunteers at the Center for Individual Development’s annual Harvest Fair. The Center for Individual Development is a recreation center for children and adults with disabilities.

    Every holiday season, McCombs volunteers at the Giving Tree, which the Salvation Army of San Bernardino mans at the Inland Center Mall from Thanksgiving to mid-December. This project allows Inland Center Mall shoppers to purchase gifts for area children whose families can’t afford presents.

    “He can be found almost anyplace lending a helping hand to any organization that supports children and disadvantaged adults,” his nomination read. The nomination also pointed out that despite volunteering on a regular basis and until recently, working as a United States Post Office employee, McCombs finds time to help and encourage his wife, three daughters and grandchildren, and to take part in ministries at Traditional Community Fellowship Chapel.
    The Commitment to Service Award honors the person the selection committee believes has given the most of anyone through a community service organization.

    This year’s winner, Pastor Gwendolyn Rose, opened Rescue Team Ministries in 2002 as a place where people in unexpected difficult situations could find solutions and keep their dignity.

    Since its opening, Rescue Team Ministries has given thousands of dollars to victims of fires, evictions, and to those who have recently had a death in their family. It has sent hundreds of pounds of clothes, shoes and books to Africa to help educate and clothe people on that continent, and Gwendolyn’s husband Don Rose has traveled to African villages to give Christian messages.

    “When Pastor Rose is not rescuing victims from the street, you can find her in the prison system ministering the word of God and fighting in Sacramento for the rights of those incarcerated,” her nomination read. “She can be seen evangelizing to those in need on skid row or sharing God’s love in convalescent homes.

    Gwendolyn Rose recently received her Master’s Degree from Cal State, San Bernardino and now teaches special education students for the County Schools of San Bernardino. She and her husband are the parents of six children.
    The Black Rose Award winners are others whom the selection committee believes have done exceptional things for the Black community over the past year.

    It has given this award to different people, and sometimes to organizations, over each of the previous 18 Black Rose Award ceremonies. This year’s winners join an ever-enlarging group of Inland Empire residents who are making a difference in their community.

    Lea Michelle Cash raised her four grown children as a single mom. At the same time she has served in various volunteer capacities in southern California for more than 18 years.

    When her children were school-age she volunteered as a PTA mom. She also volunteered with the now closed Los Angeles County Maclaren Hall for abused and abandoned youth, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS/Inland Empire Health Underwriters, San Bernardino’s National Night Out and as Rialto’s team captain for Revlon’s Breast Cancer Run/Walk.

    In addition, Cash has worked as a freelance entertainment reporter, for the Black Voice News for two years, and previously for the Precinct Reporter for 16 years.

    Three years ago, Cash started a nonprofit organization called The Brightest Star, Inc., thus embarking on her dream of building self-esteem and self-worth in children who are abused, neglected and abandoned to live in residential treatment facilities (orphanages) and foster homes. The Brightest Star, Inc. recruits and works with celebrities in the fields of art, television, music, sports, politics, motion pictures, radio, theater, education, community service and business.

    Los Angeles County 5th District Michael Antonovich and former Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamonte have both participated in and awarded proclamations to Brightest Star, Inc. She also recently received an Honor Award from the Los Angeles Foster Care Awareness Campaign for outstanding contribution to children in the Los Angeles County foster care system.

    Beulah Pitts has been a member of St. Paul AME Church for 40 years, and a deaconess there for many of them. She is a one-woman “sick committee” visiting sick people from her church at least three times a week, one of whom lives in Perris.

    Two women in her church are disabled, and Pitts helps them by visiting at least once a week to pay their bills, shop for their groceries, take them to doctor’s appointments and run other errands for them as needed. She also makes telephone calls and sends get well cards to the sick and shut-in worshippers at her church, as well as birthday cards to members who are celebrating another year.

    The first Friday of each month is Prayer warrior time at St. Paul, and Pitts is there before 6 a.m. to prepare and serve breakfast to all participants. She also shops for the food and cleans the reception hall.
    Pitts also trained volunteers at the Westside Community Center, which was part of her job when she worked for the City of San Bernardino. She’s now retired.

    Roy Mabry has extensive experience with the California Department of Corrections, where he achieved the level of Lieutenant. As former President for twelve years of the Association of Black Correctional Workers (ABCW), Mabry helped to provide training for law enforcement officers throughout the state of California and throughout the country.
    Although he is now retired he continues to volunteer with and speak to the law enforcement community and the public at large about prison issues. He also speaks at schools, encouraging youth to stay away from drugs and violence and to get involved in community service.

    Through his leadership he sponsors a variety of awards and scholarships for deserving high school students as well as funds for programs that cater to underprivileged children.

    “As important as good law enforcement is to the community, without community involvement, it would be difficult for law enforcement officers to perform their duties to the desired effect,” said those nominating Mabry. “True leaders recognize the importance of community and do everything possible to involve the community in a positive manner.”
    Mabry has volunteered since he was a young man living in the Deep South region of the United States, working with a local chapter of the YMCA. He continued with the YMCA when he moved to California. His involvement with a group of abused children from the Phoenix House enabled them to attend activities sponsored by the Association of Black Correctional Workers.

    Also, as the developer of the African American achievement calendar, he assists a variety of organizations educate others in African American history. The Pomona Valley Delta sorority uses the calendar to provide scholarships to numerous recipients. Many branches of the NAACP have also participated in fundraising events using this historical calendar.

    During the past two years, he designed what he describes as the key to understanding Black history, the African-American Heritage flag. This flag depicts thirteen days in each year that are significant to Black history and culture.
    Mabry is also the founder of a national youth group called Continuing The Dream, and chairman of the newly formed African American Correctional Employees Association, both established in 2007.

    Terrance Stone is the founder of Young Visionaries, a non-profit agency solely dedicated to eradication of youth gangs in San Bernardino County. Young Visionaries provides mentoring, after school tutoring, community outreach, arts therapy, youth violence prevention, leadership, youth employment development, and youth advocacy training.
    Stone has established anti-gang programs throughout the county, especially in the desert regions. Additionally, he serves as an executive board member of the San Bernardino County Gangs and Drugs Task Force, a volunteer position that requires collaboration of numerous non-profit agencies in San Bernardino County and law enforcement.
    Stone recently has helped to form a Gangs and Drugs Task Force sub-committee to deal solely with gang and drugs issues in the High Desert. He also has trained High Desert residents about the many facets of the gang and drug subculture, resulting in a better awareness and in programs designed to address the issues in the High Desert.

    Stone has been invited to the Bahamas and Australia to assist with their gang prevention programs. He has partnered wit the San Bernardino Police Association to provide sports program for the youth of the community, and has been a speaker at assemblies motivating students in the San Bernardino City and Rialto school districts. He has been involved in banquets honoring community members and providing scholarships to students.

    “There is no other individual in this county who has taken the steps to personalize the eradication of the gang element in this county,” read his nomination. “Mr. Stone has experienced first-hand the negative effects of this subculture and is truly making an impact in this county at the most basic level, the individual child.”

    Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, a San Bernardino native and daughter of Hardy and Cheryl Brown, is the managing partner of BPC Media Works, LLC; Co-Publisher of The Black Voice News and Executive Director of California Black Media.
    She serves her community through activities that promote diversity, cultural pride, and political and economic awareness through media, arts and education.

    One project she worked on was to collaborate with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools office to develop an outreach program that by creating videos, encouraged family storytelling and strengthens students’ computer and writing skills. The project also brought diverse cultures together to facilitate better understanding and sensitivity. The 10-week project culminated in a celebration where six videos were screened, and participants told how the project taught them new skills and provided an opportunity to learn more about the people in their community.

    Again with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, Browns-Hind produced the “Footsteps To Freedom Underground Railroad Tour,” an educational project designed to teach educators, students and community members about the plight of enslaved African-Americans. She has helped conduct tours with more than 300 teachers, students and community members who travel from Kentucky to Canada to trace the steps of the Underground Railroad. She partnered with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, California State University, San Bernardino and the Riverside County Office of Education, to arrange the tours Brown-Hinds is an accomplished writer, publisher and lecturer who has received many personal honors and awards.  Her former principal at San Bernardino High School, where she was president of the Associated Student Body, nominated her for this award.

    For the last six years, Velda Griffin has been the Executive Director at Option House, an agency that works to prevent domestic violence and assist its victims. Under her leadership, the agency has expanded services to include teen violence prevention, workshops and training for men and more transitional housing for those clients who are further along in their goals of healthy lifestyles.

    The agency has never been well supported with public funds, so during her leadership Griffin has put together a board to assist in raising private donations.


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