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Black Diamond Leadership Brunch celebrates and honor black males for volunteerism


Sunday, February 26, 2017

By Sean Barron


Most people probably would find it easy to make a connection between 13-year-old Isaac Boyd’s grades and service efforts and the likelihood he will continue to be a positive force in his community.

“I pass out turkeys and things you need for Thanksgiving dinner,” the Austintown Middle School eighth-grade honors student explained, referring to an annual holiday project at his church, Victory Christian Center in Liberty Township.

For Isaac’s willingness to help others and maintain high grades, he was among the 55 students, doctors, lawyers, business entrepreneurs, teachers and other black males who received awards during Saturday’s Black Diamond Leadership Brunch at Antone’s Banquet Centre, 8578 Market St.

Sponsoring the four-hour program was the Youngstown Chapter of The Links Inc., an international, nonprofit volunteer service-based organization dedicated to improving quality of life and giving back to communities via International Trends, Services to Youth, the Arts, National Trends and Health and Human Services, according to its website.

Saturday’s banquet was to celebrate and honor black males age 8 and older for their volunteerism, leadership skills and being positive role models in the community, along with their academic success and achievements, noted Marge Staples, the local chapter’s president.

“Each male offers a shining example of how work and commitment leads to success,” said Staples, who noted that the Youngstown chapter’s members are required to perform at least 48 hours of community service each year.

For example, the chapter hosted a Christmas gathering last year and worked with the Black Knights Police Association and Sojourner House to distribute toys to children less fortunate, Staples continued. She also noted that the organization is starting a scholarship program for high-school students to attend college.

The Black Diamond Legacy Award recipient was Bishop Emmitt L. Nevels Sr., who is with the Ohio West Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ and oversees 45 to 50 churches.

One positive aspect of the Mahoning Valley is that it has many men “who can lift up our young black people,” and help them enhance their self-esteem, said Bishop Nevels, who founded Nevels Temple COGIC in 1974.

The effort also includes businesses such as a beauty salon, Galaxy Seafood restaurant and a daycare center for children, he explained.

In addition, his headquarters on Elm Street on the North Side offers a program every third Saturday of the month that provides meals to those less fortunate, Bishop Nevels continued, adding that events such as Saturday’s awards brunch also encourage attendees to do more toward serving their communities.

Anne R. Cobbin, the Youngstown chapter’s past president, praised the awards winners for acting as positive role models for their peers. Their examples provide a “counter narrative” to negative, distorted and stereotypical images of black men, she said.

“We want to continue to uplift our black men in the Mahoning Valley,” added Ruthie King, Black Diamond chairwoman.

Making additional remarks were Carla Baldwin, Mahoning County Juvenile Court magistrate; and Dr. Rodney E. Hill, a local obstetrician and gynecologist.