SARASOTA -- The usually loquacious Barbara Harvey was nearly speechless Friday night when she was presented a "Champion of Education Award" at the 29th Manatee/Sarasota United Negro College Fund Scholarships Award Dinner.
"You have made me look good," a tearful Harvey told the audience of 250 at the Sarasota Hyatt.
Harvey, who has given more than 50 years of her life to education in Manatee County and is in her fourth term on the Manatee County school board, used her moment in the spotlight to brag on 14 students she had brought to the dinner from the North Manatee CrimeStoppers.
"These students have committed themselves to graduating from high school, pursuing a career and marrying prior to parenting a child," Harvey told the audience, which had greeted her with a standing ovation.
Harvey singled out two of the 14, Mesonyah Parrimon and Lillian Chism, for carrying 4.0 grade point averages in school.
The United Negro College Fund supports more than 60,000 students at more than 900 colleges and universities across the country through scholarships and other programs.
UNCF is also recognized worldwide by perhaps the most effective slogan in the world, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."
John Colon, a UNCF committee chairman, and Dr. Gary Kompothecras, a sponsor and the owner of 1-800-ASK-GARY,were presented community and corporate Championof Education Awards,
respectively, at the dinner.
Dr. Mona Jain of River Club was presented a "Founding Member Award" for her involvement with the United Negro College Fund for nearly 30 years.
Jain, who was born in a part of India that is now Pakistan, is also on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.
"When you have your education, no one can steal it," Jain said. "I feel wonderful about the United Negro College Fund. We have made great strides over the years, but we always need more."
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll gave the greeting.
"This generation has advanced so much in their minds," Carroll said. "We need to capture that. They can fly to amazing heights knowing you are there to support them."
Tropicana of Bradenton was honored for its strong commitment to the United Negro College Fund.
"We have a long legacy of supporting the community," said Lillian Elliott, director of supply chain quality and organizational capabilities.
Pastor Lawrence Livingston of Palmetto's Eternity Temple First Born Church gave the closing remarks with his wife, Clifford Livingston, his sisters, Janiell Johnson and Carrie Brown, and his brothers-in-law, Willie James Brown and Moody Johnson, in the audience.
Livingston said he was elated during the event because he had received an email at 7 a.m. Friday stating that a student from his church, Shira Green of Palmetto, had been accepted to Bethune-Cookman University, following in the footsteps of Palmetto's Jason Hopkins, who graduated from Bethune-Cookman Cum Laude.
"It's awesome to see a child develop over time and go to college," Livingston said. "It makes me so proud."
Eternity Temple First Born Church has a youth department led by what Livingston called the "dynamic duo," of Andrea Brown and Velma Mooney, who mentor these children and prepare them for college.
"Every Sunday the students stand before the congregation and read 'Keys for Kids,'" Livingston said. "It's character-building."
For parents wishing to have their students join Harvey's program, she can be reached at 941-722-5696.
Livingston can be reached at 941-713-4492.