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Organization honors King, gives scholarships

The S. Delois Mayes Scholarship Foundation honored Martin Luther King Jr. and scholarship winners for 2017 at its fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Benefit Brunch.

The foundation raises money every year through the brunch to provide scholarship money to high school seniors that go to one of the three Suffolk public high schools. This year they awarded five students: Savannah Miller from Nansemond River, Kamarie Jewette from Nansemond River, Trevor Armstrong from Nansemond River, Master Turntine from Nansemond River and Keshawn Skinner from Lakeland.

“Education is important, and it is why we continue to support high school seniors,” said Gwendolyn Ellis-Wilson, a member of the board of directors.

Over the last four years, the foundation has been able to award a total of $26,000 in scholarships, and 100 percent of all the money the foundation raises goes directly to the students, according to the foundation. The foundation has also accrued eight corporate sponsors and had a total of 190 attendees at the brunch over the last four years.

“Today we are here to honor the legacy of Dr. King, and we are in a position that education is expensive,” said Ebony Wright, president of the foundation. “We are coming together as a community effort for the kids.”

The foundation is in honor of Wright’s sister, who died 15 years ago in a car crash.

“She had a passion for education, she was persistent, and I wanted her legacy to live on,” Wright said.

Along with their general scholarship, in 2016 the board voted to have a second scholarship opportunity. The Rosie Ellis-Fields Scholarship is in memory of Ellis-Wilson’s sister, who died due to complications of lupus. The money can be awarded to a Suffolk high school senior who is majoring in the health care field. Lawrence Smith Jr. from King’s Fork High School was the first recipient this year.

Current Suffolk seniors can begin submitting their applications for the two scholarships that the foundation offers, and the deadline for submitting is Feb. 1. To apply, students must have a 3.0 GPA, a letter of recommendation, submit a personal essay and submit a statement about the cost of education. Applications can be submitted on their website sdmscholarshipfoundation.com.

The selection committee will begin to look at applications after the deadline, and the foundation will choose their winners by April 1.

The Hon. Karen Ackerson Gauff, judge of the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County, was the guest speaker for the occasion.

The foundation also presented its Community Leadership Award to Trevor Lucas.

“He is not only a visual artist, he is a visual activist,” said Sabrina Turner, a member of the board of directors. “He has dedicated his life to showing the community what to do.”