Community Voices

Dozens of Liberty City church students receive college scholarships

This is a season of giving and celebrations. On May 21 at The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness), 1351 NW 67th St. in Liberty City, the excitement ran high as Taffy Gould, her sister Lauren Gould and their cousin David Freedman presented 28 checks for $500 (two for $1,000 each) to five graduating high school students and 23 who are returning to college in the fall.

The scholarships were presented through the Ethel Goldstein/Ida Belle Johnson Memorial Scholarship, established to honor Ethel Goldstein, the grandmother of Taffy, Lauren and David, and my mother the late Ida Belle Johnson, who was a nanny and housekeeper for Ethel Goldstein’s grandchildren back in the day. This is the 17th year the family has honored the youth of The Church of God Tabernacle.

In addition, the youth were doubly blessed when Andrew Oghinan, Harry Oghinan, Tony Chinye and Ola Olaigbe formed Solutions Charities, and through the organization presented three graduating high school seniors with $1,000 each.

“After we launched the scholarship fund, I suggested that we give the first awards to the youth of The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness), where we have had a long relationship with Elder Oliver Gross, a minister of the church, and for the high respect we have for the pastor Bishop Walter H. Richardson,” Andrew Oghinan said.

The scholarship will be an annual gift to the youth of the church. “We plan to expand the number of recipients next year and increase the amount of the scholarship,” he said.

During the service, Armani Cooper was honored by the church as the “2017 Outstanding High School Graduate.” Armani, who is graduating with a 4.7 GPA, is the valedictorian of her class at Miami Central High School. She is the daughter of Sheree Roundtree Sterling and George Cooper, and the granddaughter of Seadell Roundtree.

Church celebrates Pentecost Revival

The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness) also continues its celebration of the annual Pentecost Revival, which started on May 28 and will culminate Sunday, Pentecost Day.

Services are being held at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and will culminate with services at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday.

Pentecost Day is known to Christians around the world as the birthday of the Christian Church and the first out-pouring of the Holy Ghost upon believers.

At The Church of God Tabernacle, where Bishop Walter H. Richardson is the the pastor, the services will include preaching and hand-clapping, foot-tapping music from the church’s Mass Choir.

Everyone is welcome. There is no admission fee.

New family encourages teen to be himself

I mentioned that this is a season of giving. But actually, this story about giving started about three years ago, when Noah Moore’s mother realized she could no longer care for her son and signed away her parental rights.

It was a dark and dismal time for Noah, who was 16 at the time. In an essay he wrote:

“When I was younger my mom loved me and cherished me. When it was raining and thundering, I would run into her bedroom. ... When someone punched me in the face ... I ran to my mom and she solved my problem right away.

“As I got older, I began to realize that the mom that solved all my problems had a major problem of her own. She was an alcoholic. As I began to realize the implications of this disease our relationship grew distant ... and I felt I had lost my closest advocate and my best friend.”

Noah said that when his mom “decided that she no longer wanted me and signed her parental rights over to the courts” the abandonment that he felt was “unbelievable.” He was 16 and the person who he had loved his entire life said she no longer wanted him.

In stepped a real-life angel in the person of his school’s assistant principal, Dr. LaShinda Moore. “When the social worker explained my situation to her, she and my new dad decided that I was the son they were praying for,” Noah said.

“Now the table has turned around for me. The environment that I am in now is completely different than the one I was in before. When I was staying with my mother, I was in denial about my feelings, my hopes and my dreams. I was not sure if God was pleased with me and the choices that I made in my life, but my new mom made me realize that you cannot live your life based on someone else’s values or beliefs. You must love yourself and know that God has your back and your family will stand behind you.”

Noah didn’t just gain a new set of parents. He gained an entire family.

“He gained two new grandmothers, Ernestine Harvey and Evelyn Destin — that’s me — and one aunt Joann Guyton; a new brother Delawrence James Moore III, 10, and three new cousins Chakiea Guyton, Ph.D.; Josetta Washington, Ph. D.; and Israel Washington,” Destin said.

“On June 6, Noah will be graduating from the magnet school, the Law Enforcement Academy adjacent to the city of Miami Police Department. He was accepted to three universities and will attend Florida A&M University.”

“When she got him, he later told her, ‘I just want you to know, I’m gay.’ She said to me later, ‘Mom, I can’t return to sender. So I will take care of him and deal with whatever comes our way.’ We are so proud of him. He has a job on the weekend and he has a little car. My daughter told him that this was no free ride. And he stepped right up. He pays his own car insurance and he is very responsible.”

Destin said her grandson always wanted to make something of himself. “We are a family that believes in education and we are just just happy to be able to help him. His new mom has a doctoral degree in education. I am so happy for him that I have already started shopping for his college things,” she said.

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