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Zion Community Church honors leaders

Zion Community Church held Community Day on May 26 and honored three community leaders during the service.
Retiring Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney, Delegate S. Chris Jones and Suffolk Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett were honored during the service.

Pastor Ben Fitzgerald presented proclamations to each of the honorees and talked about their accomplishments for the community, according to a video posted on the church’s Facebook page.

Fitzgerald said Whitney had provided excellent leadership to the schools and made a number of significant contributions. Those included expanding specialty programs, developing a teacher supply store, building three new schools, driving improved student performance and instituting a community service requirement for graduation.

“We could never thank you for all you’ve done but we’re glad that you’ve made a difference in our city,” Fitzgerald said of Whitney.

Of Jones, Fitzgerald noted that he had worked to help Norfolk State University overcome financial and accreditation challenges with which it struggled a few years ago, and “he broke ranks with his party to cast one of the deciding votes that expanded Medicaid coverage and gave health care to 400,000 Virginians who did not have (it).”

“I’m not for Republicans, I’m not for Democrats, I’m for people who do the right thing, this is a man who does the right thing,” Fitzgerald added.

Fitzgerald honored Bennett with one simple saying: “Whenever you find yourself at the crossroads of politics and taking care of the people, you choose the people every time,” he said.