Those in attendance included corporate sponsors, individual sponsors, local government officials and the young high school and middle school mentees.
President Ronald Arnold welcomed everyone to the banquet.
“We the men of 100 Black Men of Bradley County Incorporated sincerely thank you for being here,” Arnold said. “It is so vital to the success and continuation of the organization.”
He said the support of the community resulted in the longevity of the club.
Added Arnold, “This year we will complete 20 years as an organization, but without the support we have received from all of you, we would not have lasted 20 months.”
Reports provided in the extensive banquet booklet detailed the organization’s revenue in 2013. Total funds equaled $61,218. At $32,267, a majority of the funds came from last year’s banquet. Additional revenue included: $6,372, golf tournament; membership dues, $1,915; $1,500, Iron Man donor; $1,000, donations; $664, basketball tournament; and $600, health and wellness.
An additional report detailed the expenses for 2013. According to the pie chart, more than half of the money raised went toward scholarships. This means students received $24,532 in 2013 from the organization.
Remaining expenses covered items like the mentoring program, health and wellness, national assessments, professional fees and banquet expenses.
Three scholarship recipients were honored at Saturday’s banquet: Teeona Hall of Austin Peay State University, Donovan Bledsoe of Cleveland State Community College and Rashad B. Sharp of Lee University (graduate).
The Rev. Aubrey Ector, who served as master of ceremonies, said the most “robust and mature” of the programs offered through the 100 BMBC are mentoring and education. More than 15 mentees attended the banquet from both the high school and middle school levels.
Mentees Hailey Marie Langston and Ashton Dunn also received recognition. Both middle school students spoke to the large crowd.
Dunn shared his “I am the Future” essay.
He called for a change.
“Killing and crime need to change. With our minds … we can make a change. As a 100 Black Men member, I am committed to making these changes,” Dunn said. “I will because I am not the past. I am the future.”
He said the future needs a little help.
“We are here to show we are different. No one can stop us. We will make the future different in the best ways we can,” Dunn said. “Crime needs to stop. The world knows not what it was made to be.”
According to Dunn, the world is a big place, a “very big place” with a lot of problems.
“I am the future because I will make this earth a better place,” Dunn said. “I will give back to the community. I will help feed the people in need. I will be the man who my parents made me to be.”
Representatives from Lee University and the governments of Bradley County, Cleveland and Charleston attended and spoke at the banquet.
Vice President of Student Life Dr. Mike Hayes said he teaches leadership at Lee University. Students often think being a great leader means gaining popularity or an accomplishment to hang a hat on.
Instead, Hayes said he reminds students the son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life ransom for many.
“Here is the bottom line we try to tell our students. I can’t tell you whether or not you are a great leader until I can see whether or not you left the place in better shape than you found it,” Hayes said. “I can’t tell you whether or not you are a great leader until the people who come after you got it better because of what you did.”
He said he loves 100 Black Men of Bradley County because the organization lives up to what it means to be a great leader.
Lindsay Hathcock, executive assistant to the Bradley County mayor, thanked the organization for a job well done. He said the county looks forward to many more years of the group’s positive impact.
Charleston City Commissioner Donna McDermott said she has seen the good work completed by 100 BMBC firsthand. Her son has been a participant in the organization since the seventh grade.
“I want to say thank you. Thank you again on a job well done,” McDermott said. “[100 BMBC] has had such a great impact on my son personally as a mentor, leadership, for the things he has accomplished at Lee University and for the things he will accomplish after.”
She concluded, “So, is this a good organization? No, it is a phenomenal organization.”
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Vice Mayor Avery Johnson offered their support and congratulations to the organization as well.
Johnson said the group has given out more than $780,000 in scholarships throughout its 20-year span. There have also been at least 44 students who have graduated from college with some type of support from the organization.
“When I look at these kids and think about how far we’ve come and how many of you have stayed with it, and I am asking every man in here, if you are not a member of 100 Black Men, you need to sign up,” Johnson said. “And it don’t make any difference to me what you look like.”
“If you are a man, sign up for this organization so you can support the mission of 100 Black Men of Bradley County.”
More information on the group can be found by visiting www.100bmbc.org.