Our area has become the hub of excitement and attention for state and internationally known personalities. Orange Mayor Hawkins Annual Ball was elegant and packed with political notables. Among the awardees were Senator Richard Codey and local community activist Karen Wells. Guests nibbled on mini lamb chops with mint jelly, giant shrimp and a full array of hot and cold delicacies prior to the 3 course dinner. Music played and cocktales flowed for the entire evening. Congressman Donald Payne, Gov. Corizine, Mayor Corey Booker and top county and city officials mingled and celebrated the progress made by the cities new Mayor. Forty two achievements were listed in the souvenir journal, all guests wishing for continued success._________
East Orange's Cicely Tyson Community School of performing and fine arts hosted a gala opening. Ms Tyson invited many of her associates - included were Terrance Howard, Angela Bassett, Andrew Young and Oprah Winfrey to mention a few. Singer Bee Bee Winans was among the entertainers. The state of the art campus includes a 400 and 800 seat theaters, built to Broadway standards in terms of sound and lighting. The school will serve 1,300 students from pre K to 12th grade.
Thursday Oct. 29th the Limo arrived and I was off to the United Nations for World Health Day. Our own Dionne Warwick along with famous track star Carl Lewis were dais guests carrying the title of Good Will Ambassadors. They both spoke eloquently and will carry the message to "Achieve food security in times of crisis" as they travel around the world. The ceremony included the screening of a video highlighting the urgency and efforts now underway. A performance by "The Choir Academy of Harlem" included a contemporary version of "Amazing Grace" outstanding doesn't begin to describe the youngsters performance. We were greeted and hosted by the key note speaker Jacques Diof, Director General of the food agricultural organization of the UN. He was charming, jovial and accommodating. During the ceremony I remembered my first trip to the UN as an elementary school girl; never did I ever imagine being an invited guest to observe my dear friend Dionne speaking to ambassadors from around the world. A splendid day indeed.________
The following morning I was off to the grand opening of the new administrative and head start facility of The Leaguers Inc. located on University Avenue in Newark. I was accompanied by renowned poet, author and actor Betty Neals, who was one of the early pioneers of the organization founded by Mary B Burch. "Ma Burch" inspired youth to excel and become responsible, dignified citizens. I recalled dancing in the annual Cotillion, that evening I received a scholarship to "The Fashion Institute of Technology and Dionne Warwick to Hart College of Music. Other prominent Leaguer alumni were Congressman Donald Payne and his brother Sen. Wm. Payne they, along with former director Assembly woman Sheila Oliver, Board Chair Yvonne Lowen and CEO Veronica Ray headed up the bevy of speakers. They took us through a heartwarming journey from it's beginnings in the basement of the Burch's home to the now block long state of the art facility that was designed in part by minority architect Wilson Woodridge. Now serving 1,820 clients in 4 NJ cities.
Some of our local talents have ascended to the heights of world prominence. Home grown elected officials are making monumental improvements that focus the national spotlight on our towns. Our leaders are looked at as innovators with projects to be emulated across the land. All their efforts assure that we are living our best lives.