Four receive humanitarian award at Cape MLK luncheon

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The Rev. Byron Bonner, pastor of True Vine Ministries, presents the keynote address Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at the 11th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Luncheon at the Salvation Army in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Four Cape Girardeau residents were recognized for their contributions to the community Monday during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Luncheon at the Salvation Army.

Betty Mosley, Geneva Allen, and husband-and-wife volunteer team George and Michelle Smith received the Dr. C. John Ritter Humanitarian Service Award.

A longtime advocate for area youth programs, Mosley has worked with Head Start, was a member of the board of directors of the Family Resource Center in Cape Girardeau and currently volunteers daily with the Boys and Girls Club.

Marcia Ritter presents Betty Mosley with the Dr. C. John Ritter Humanitarian Service Award. (Fred Lynch)

"It's not about me, it's all about the kids," Mosley said with tears in her eyes as she accepted her award from Debra Mitchell-Braxton and Marcia Ritter, wife of the late C. John Ritter, for whom the award is named.

Geneva Allen, who is the first black supervisor at the Cape Girardeau office of the Missouri Family Support Division, was recognized for being willing to challenge inequalities in employment in Cape Girardeau, Mitchell-Braxton said.

"She was willing to step out of her comfort zone to make a difference," Mitchell-Braxton said. Allen has done mission work and been involved in other advocacy programs to promote education and health awareness.

"I feel it's an honor not only to serve in the community but at the Division of Family Services, where I meet so many people that are in need, but I'm blessed that I'm able to be there to help address those needs," Allen said.

Geneva Allen, left, speaks after receiving the Dr. C. John Ritter Humanitarian Service Award from Marcia Ritter. (Fred Lynch)

George and Michelle Smith have volunteered with the Lincoln University Kids Beat program in the Southeast Missouri Bootheel for more than 12 years. They also work with youth programs at the Salvation Army. Kids Beat is youth development program aimed at empowering youth and communities through education and experiences as well as preventing substance abuse and teen pregnancy. George Smith works as a mechanic at Southeast Missouri State University and Michelle has been a case worker with the Family Support Division for 23 years.

George Smith said everything he and his wife do is because they feel God has called them to serve.

"Dr. King had a dream, and we have a dream," he said. "Everything we do, we've been before the school boards, it's not just about our kid. We have a son. It's not just about our son, it's about everybody's sons and daughters. It's about us all coming together to make a difference."

Marcia Ritter, left, presents Michelle and George Smith with the Dr. C. John Ritter Humanitarian Service Award. (Fred Lynch)

The Rev. Byron Bonner, who delivered the keynote address, also spoke about King's dream and his own dreams for Cape Girardeau.

The area needs more substance abuse rehabilitation programs and more programs to help people make the transition from prison back to society, he said.

White and black churches should work together to support those in need in Cape Girardeau, he said.

The area also needs more employers who won't judge applicants based on their past but instead on their willingness to create a better future for themselves, said Bonner, who overcame an addiction to crack cocaine before entering the ministry.

Bonner pointed out that King wasn't perfect. He had disappointments. He was a chain smoker, he was afraid of lightning and had a "unbridled attraction to beautiful women," Bonner said.

"Millions want the mystique of the monument, but they forget he was a real man with moving parts," Bonner said.

In addition to Monday's luncheon, about a dozen students performed at West Park Mall on Monday afternoon as part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Gala. Lots of shoppers stopped to watch singing, dance and oratory performances in front of J.C. Penney during the show.

A memorial breakfast started off the day at the Salvation Army.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

701 Good Hope St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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