King’s philosophy, message of unity is focus of Lebanon MLK event

The 38th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day Celebration in Lebanon was dedicated to his words: “The Time Is Now — The time is always right to do what is right.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Coalition of Lebanon hosted Monday’s 38th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at Resurrection Lutheran Church. The event was designed to educate the community about Dr. King’s philosophy and to inspire unity.

Author, businesswoman and inspirational speaker, Tia Ramey, delivered the keynote address. Her book “Canceled - Mastering Difficult Conversations in a Modern World” supports leaders and organizations by expanding their capacity for honest dialogue.

The event also featured a musical performance by the Voice of Warren County Choir, a choir group comprised of adults with disabilities who receive services from the Warren County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Awards given out at the event recognize the contributions of those who exemplify the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as described in his sermon on the Drum Major Instinct. There are three categories of nominees: Youth – Leaders of Tomorrow; Adult Community Leaders; and Organizations (corporation, business or group).

Organizers shared the following information about this year’s Drum Major Award recipients:

Zoe Scott - Youth Leader of Tomorrow

Since moving to Lebanon, Scott has involved herself in the community through volunteering and dedicating time to The MLK Coalition of Lebanon as well as other local organizations. She headed the Youth Voter Registration Initiative at Lebanon High School to promote voter education and encourage High School seniors to register. Scott founded an online magazine targeted towards underrepresented and marginalized creative youth where she has built a diverse team. She plays volleyball and is extremely dedicated inside the classroom. Scott has great care for the community and is always looking for a new opportunity to make a change.

Kristin Davenport - Adult Community Leader

Davenport has been a dedicated, compassionate volunteer leader in several organizations in our community. After working all day at Episcopal Retirement Services full time as the Chief Storyteller (director of communications), she finds time to volunteer and is an active board member of ArtScape Lebanon and the Lebanon Food Pantry. Davenport has become a reliable ally, volunteer and supporter of MLK Lebanon. When she is not doing all of these things, she enjoys spending time with her family, singing in the choir at RLC, and making art.

Russell Forrester - Adult Community Leader

Forrester is a classroom technician for the Warren County Schools Educational Services Center for students with developmental disabilities. He loves seeing their growth and does everything possible to build self-confidence. In 2020-2021 school year he requested more opportunities to work with the students. The school administration offered him the position of gym teacher for the entire school. Forrester’s career began as a home health aide in Developmental Disability Group Homes. He went on to Production Unlimited (PSU) as an Adult Service Provider. Forrester makes a difference in lives of students with challenges, student athletes, their parents and everyone who knows him. Living out the principles of Dr. King by championing the marginalized, showing how to treat people who are different from yourself, standing up for the underdog and being an example for our community of a positive young African American man willing to work for the betterment of our community.

Touching Hearts at Home - Outstanding Organization

Jenni Blake embodies caring and compassion. She is owner of the Touching Hearts, a home care business which helps seniors, those with medical conditions or disabilities, or those transitioning from hospital to home. Blake has a strong commitment to the highest standards of care and dignity for her clients as well as her employees. Their motto is “We value the people we serve, and those who serve them.” In addition, she recently added The Curated with Care Co. in her front office area on Mulberry Street. This boutique is centered around comfort and support and has clothing, book, accessories, etc. she understands the journey of grief and loss and has many items that help heal and nurture the soul. Blake is a servant for many in this community and we believe she and her organizations are working examples of loving and serving others.

Day of Service Project - The Time Is Now Food Drive

MLK Day is a federal holiday and a national day of service. It is also recognized as a nationwide AmeriCorps event calling all citizens to action serving our communities in the way Dr. King faithfully served. Local businesses, organizations and civic groups were encouraged to host corporate food drives to benefit the Lebanon Food Pantry.

About the Author