Friday, June 23, 2000

77 honored as Black Achievers


Designees will be mentors for teens

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Barry Bates and Myron Brown were among the honorees.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        The 22nd annual Salute to Black Achievers banquet Thursday not only honored 77 successful black businesspeople and community leaders, it also raised more than $100,000 for the YMCA Black Achievers program.

        The honorees will soon begin a group mentorship program in which they will serve as role models for 13- to 18-year-olds.

        And for the first time ever, the banquet also honored five volunteers as “legends” for their support of the Black Achievers program the past 22 years.

        “These mentors are setting positive examples and providing lots of different exposure to the children,” said Andre Campbell, who was involved in the program as a teen and is now the director of youth programs for YMCA Black Achievers. “It's important to help these kids see positive role models so they can prepare for the future.”

        Companies nominate outstanding employees for the Black Achievers awards, and those selected will begin their yearlong mentorship stint in the fall. The group mentors participate in activities with the teens during the year, including leadership excursions, college tours, career exploration and computer training. The mentorship often lasts beyond the allotted time.

        “I'm finishing up now, but it will never end,” said Yolanda Sherrer, a 1999 Black Achiever honoree nearly done with her volunteer commitment. She said she will continue mentoring because it is something she finds rewarding.

        Henry Brown, chairman of the board of the Greater Cincinnati YMCA, was recognized as a Black Achiever in the early 1980s. Mr. Brown says it is much easier to see the rewards of mentoring than to see the rewards of working for a company.

        All he has to do is drive down to the YMCA and watch the kids, he said.

        “The Black Achievers program provides a reason for the young people to be looking forward,” he said. “It shows them that it is possible to be successful in a wide range of careers.”

        Frederick Suggs Jr. was one of the instrumental figures in bringing the Black Achievers program to Cincinnati YMCAs in the late 1970s, and was honored as a Legend Thursday evening. He expected the program to grow but not to the extent it has.

        “There was a time when people were doing things, especially young blacks, and weren't being recognized,” Mr. Suggs said. “This honors the people who are successful in our community.”

        Richard Hunter, former mayor of Silverton and now an account executive for WIZF-100.9FM, was honored as an achiever. He is the father of five and grandfather of 15, and he is excited to begin a mentorship that he thinks will closely resemble fatherhood.

        “I plan to share my experiences and what I've learned,” Mr. Hunter said, “and maybe show them how to avoid some pitfalls in life.”

List of the 77 Black Achievers award winners



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