Community breakfast honors Wareham students, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
The greater good.
That, said keynote speaker Eric Britto, is what slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.
The 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast honored this legacy on Monday morning, awarding Wareham students who embodied the spirit of King and reminding them to keep his dream for equality alive through kindness and respect.
The event was held at the Wareham Boys & Girls Club on Highland Avenue and was met with a surprise donation of $8,696 from the 99 Restaurant at Rosebrook Pl. Wareham Unit Director Ken Fontes said he was humbled to receive the donation on behalf of the club, which provides a variety of after-school programs for young people throughout the year.
“This really is a special place,” Fontes said.
In his keynote address, Britto also asked students to dream and to step up for what they believe in. A New Bedford native, Britto is the chairman of TrueBounce Inc. and the founder of an anti-bullying campaign focused on playgrounds and other community spaces.
Many times throughout his life, Britto said he had encountered challenges as the result of his race.
“When you step up, you receive opposition,” he said. “But fear not. Keep that dream and God will show you the way. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t do all this just so we could have a breakfast. He did it for the greater good, and I’m asking you to do the same.”
Students from each of Wareham’s schools, the Gleason Family YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club were recognized with Martin Luther King awards. They were chosen for being ambassadors of peace and demonstrating qualities that King stood for.
Renneanna Dillen received the award for Wareham High School. She is currently taking eight baccalaureate classes and two advanced placement classes, putting her in the top percentage of the Wareham High School senior class. She has received the Harvard Book Prize, the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship and is a four-year member of the National Honor Society. Dillen’s teachers said she is a remarkable and conscientious student who treats everyone with dignity.
Isaiah Borges received the award for Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School. An honor roll student, Borges has completed several community projects through his chosen field of carpentry such as the construction of a ticket booth at Mass Maritime Academy. Teachers say Borges is a polite young man who is a role model respected by his peers.
Julia Michaels received the award for Bishop Stang High School. Michaels participates in various student organizations, such as Student Council and the National Honor Society. She also volunteers her time through various other service-oriented organizations and is described as both kind and genuine.
Cecelia Chismer was awarded by the Wareham Cooperative Alternative School for her commitment to education and maintained academic success. Teachers said Chismer excelled socially and is prepared for what post secondary life will throw her way.
Malachi Samuels received the award for Wareham Middle School. Samuels is known for his strong work ethic and enthusiasm towards learning. Teachers added that he is always kind and respectful, setting a positive example for his peers.
Antonious Salib was recognized from Minot Forest Elementary School and praised for being a hard worker, kind friend and positive classmate. Teachers applauded Salib’s progress with reading, as English is not his first language, and added that he always goes out of his way to help others.
Taness James was honored from Decas Elementary School. Her teachers said her warm smile could light up anyone’s day and that she always shows kindness toward others. In addition to always finding solutions for her own problems, teachers said James was equally supportive of her peers.
Andrew Nee and Perisa Tavares were both recognized by the Boys & Girls Club. Fontes said 12 year-old Nee had accomplished much in two years at the club, and was always quick to make everyone laugh with his sense of humor. 10 year-old Tavares was praised for her willingness to help around the club and the kindness she shows to everyone around her.
Lastly, nine year-old Lillian Briggs was recognized by the Gleason Family YMCA for embodying the values of honesty, respect and responsibility. YMCA program director Lu Brito added that Briggs is also a wonderful sister to her two brothers.
Wareham High School graduate and American Idol contestant Teddy Mathews brought the event to an end, wowing the crowd as he sang Marvin Gay’s “What’s Going On.”
“This event is a real corner stone of the community,” said Fontes. “And we hope people will continue to join us for many more years to come.”