NAACP counts down to big event

Published 10:49 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

With the NAACP preparing to mark a century of activism, about 75 community leaders, business partners and friends headed to the Mosaic Café at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts last week for a chance to eat, hear some music and learn about the group’s Nansemond-Suffolk chapter.

As important to those attending was the chance they had to get to know each other.

“It was a meet-and-greet to give our businesses, organizations and churches and individuals that have been past and present supporters to come and just network,” said Mary Hill, chairperson for the event.

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Each year, the chapter holds the Freedom Fund Banquet as one of its biggest celebrations and fundraisers for the chapter’s programming, including the chapter-sponsored health fairs and other outreach projects. To raise money, the chapter seeks advertisers for the Freedom Fund Banquet Souvenir Booklet.

Hill noted that too often the businesses and people who purchase the advertising seemed disconnected from the event.

“In the past — it’s my observation — when the Freedom Fund Banquet is held, people come and they really don’t have a opportunity to network and mingle as much,” she said. “I thought we should have an opportunity to thank our supporters and give them that opportunity.”

This year, the NAACP will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. To celebrate, the chapter is holding the Centennial Freedom Fund Banquet.

Hill said she felt there was no better time to try to involve community supporters.

The “A Time of Sharing” event held last week helped to build those relationships in the community and it helped to kick off the support for the centennial celebration.

“This is going to be an exciting year for us,” Hill said. “It was our desire to show that the Nansemond-Suffolk NAACP branch appreciated everyone’s support – and the opportunity is there for all people to get involved, become a member.”

The NAACP, or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is one of the largest civil rights organizations in the country. Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination,” according to the NAACP Web site.