Kenneth Jones, Monique Parsons, Lallene Rector, Pastor Daniel Ruen and Susan Trieschman received community service awards at the 55th annual Freedom Fund banquet of the Evanston/North Shore Branch of the NAACP.
Mr. Jones, President of AMITA Health Saint Francis Hospital, said he accepted the award, given for outstanding service in health care, on behalf of the “800 associates and countless volunteers at AMITA Health Saint Francis.” He added, “We stand mind, body and soul with African American churches.”
Ms. Parsons received her award for outstanding service in community engagement. She is Chief Executive Officer of the McGaw Y and Vice President of the School District 202 Board of Education. “I am a product of Evanston,” she said, adding, “I still have work to do.”
Dr. Rector, the first woman and the first lay person to be president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, accepted the award for service in higher education on behalf of the students and faculty at Garrett. “We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before … and we go out into the world and be disruptive.”
“Organize, organize, organize,” Pastor Ruen led the audience in song as he accepted the award for religious activism. He leads Grace Lutheran Church and is one of the tri-chairs of the Illinois Poor People’s Campaign. Quoting Dr. William Barber, another of the tri-chairs, he said “It’s not enough to be woke unless you get out of the bed.”
Ms. Trieschman, honored for outstanding service to young people, said, “I do not feel that I am ready to receive this award. The people who deserve this award are the people I serve, because society has been so unjust to them.”
Keynote speaker Reverend Dr. Otis Moss spoke about the trailblazers who created paths for others to tread, some of whom became better known. He gave the example of civil rights leader and pastor Vincent Johns, who led the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., organizing the Montgomery bus boycott from his office there.
“He was too radical for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church,” Rev. Moss said, and people felt the young preacher they chose to succeed him would be acceptably moderate. The new minister, with a Ph.D. in systematic theology, was Martin Luther King Jr.
He urged the audience members not to despair but to act. “In this day and age, we must learn to plan for ways we did not know. … Did we post on FaceBook or did we choose to fight in this moment?”