Each mentee and scholarship recipient present was recognized.
A special spotlight was put on mentees Ashton Dunn, Shanise Robinson, Andre Parker and Keisha Thompson. A brief biography of each student was read highlighting their achievements, hobbies and participation in the program. The mentorship program is affiliated with students at Cleveland Middle School. Mentees meet with members of the 100 Black Men organization one day a week at the school at 7 a.m.
“We love those kids and we’ll do anything for them, but we need your help,” organization president Ronnie Arnold said to those present.
Scholarship recipients DeAneisha Brielle Jarrett, Ebony Johnson-Bunion and Bianca Perkins were also highlighted. Since the start of the scholarship program, more than $750,000 has been awarded in scholarships.
Guest speaker Vincent Phipps, Communication VIP (very important people-skills) president, shared “The Three P’s of Purpose” with the students.
“There are three P’s that everyone needs to understand but this is especially for the youth,” Phipps said. “If you have a car note, a rent or a mortgage you are no longer young.”
“The Three P’s of Purpose” are persistence, positivity and pride.
“You have got to make it a persistent habit to be excellent; it has got to be your norm,” Phipps said.
He said simply being happy to pass classes is not enough, because it means they are satisfied with a “C” grade.
“A ‘C’ wasn’t good enough in my house (growing up). A ‘C’ was average,” Phipps said. “My mother said, ‘You are not average, so you will not act accordingly. You will act as excellent, (because that) is what you are.’”
Phipps encouraged the students that no matter what their past they could still pursue excellence.
“It is always the right time to be great,” Phipps said.
Positivity is a trait lacking in many of today’s youth, Phipps said.
“There are too many times I’m seeing our young people walk around mad, ticked off,” Phipps said. “When I look at our future, I see all the beauty of our future.”
For him, the beauty of the future is in students who want to be successful and make a difference. He said a bad attitude can be a continual roadblock to success, no matter how many opportunities and advantages a person is given.
“Haters don’t hate you, they hate anything that’s good that reminds them that they have yet to try harder,” Phipps said.
People who are truly pursuing excellence are going to have people hating on them, he said.
“The people you want to hate you are the people you don’t want to be,” Phipps said.
The speaker encourages students not to be concerned when those getting in trouble hate on them. He said they should be concerned when their teachers and parents are angry with their actions or behavior.
“You have to make sure that your attitudes are assets to your future, and not liabilities,” Phipps said.
The final P of purpose is pride. Phipps highlighted that this pride would help students as they move forward, by taking pride in how they present themselves.
“If you walk around with your exterior displaying things that you are not wanting to say (by dressing provocatively), people will step to you as if that is your product,” Phipps said.
He emphasized that everyone lights up a room, whether it is when they enter it or when they exit.
Also during the banquet, special recognition was given to the sponsors who made the event possible. Corporate sponsors were presented with a plague showing appreciation. Waste Connections of Tennessee Inc. made a $5,000 donation, and the George R. Johnson Family Foundation/Hardee’s committed to donating $15,000 over the next five years.