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MLK Day event goes virtual

The S. Delois Mayes Scholarship Foundation is hosting its seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Event at 10 a.m. Jan. 18.

This event is held each year to raise money for the S. Delois Mayes Scholarship Foundation. In normal years, the award ceremony consists of a brunch with a $50 donation cost. This year, due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, this annual banquet will be free and online.

“This year, we are just asking everyone to make a donation on our website,” said Ebony Wright, president and founder of the S. Delois Mayes Scholarship Foundation.

The S. Delois Mayes Scholarship Foundation was launched in 2013 in memory of Shontoyia “Toyia” Delois Mayes, who died in a car accident in 2002. Since she valued education, a scholarship fund was started in her memory. This scholarship is for seniors from the three Suffolk public high schools to further their education.

Each year the event has a theme that comes from a Martin Luther King Jr. quote. This year will focus on intelligence and character, deriving from the quote, “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”

The speaker this year will be Steffanie B. Easter. She is the current vice president of strategy and planning for the Defense Systems Group at Science Applications International Corporation and was previously the first civilian to hold the position of director of Navy staff for the U.S. Navy.

“The speaker this year is phenomenal,” said Wright. “She’s retired from the Department of Defense and worked for them for over 30 years in high, important positions. I worked with her in the past and am excited to have her speak at this year’s event.”

Receiving the 2020 Community Leadership Award is Michelle Gould. Gould is a second-grade teacher at Churchland Academy Elementary School in Portsmouth. She will share her struggles and the challenges she overcame as her job transitioned suddenly to virtual in March 2020.

“With the pandemic, the board wanted to choose an essential worker,” said Wright. “With this being a scholarship, we felt like a teacher would be the best choice. Also, they have really been on the front lines and don’t always get the recognition they deserve.”

The 2020 scholarship recipients will also speak at the event.

To learn more or make a donation, visit tinyurl.com/7thMLKevent.