The Executive Director of the Youth Bureau, DaMia Harris partnered with the Afrikan Brotherhood members, Allen Ayers and Abishai Ben-Rueben to create a youth ceremony after she was honored by the Brotherhood in May 2011.
DaMia Harris stated, “As I sat on the dais during the Brotherhood’s unique and cultural event this past spring, I could not help but think that this event should be extended to our youth. Our gems (youth), who may or may not be aware of their history, must know that their community values their contributions and are very proud of their accomplishments.”
Among the elected officials present for the event were Mayor Clinton I. Young Jr., City Council members Yuhanna Edwards and Roberta Apuzzo; School Board Trustees Carol Ben Reueben and Lynn McBride; City Comptroller Maureen Walker. Community leaders from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Zeta Nu Omega Chapter, the Westchester County Youth Bureau, Peekskill Youth Bureau and Greater Centennial AME Zion Church were also in attendance.
“Once again the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau put together a momentous event for our young people. I am extremely proud of the youth that were acknowledged and particularly the parents who supported the event. We will continue to host events and honor our young people who are doing the right thing. They are the norm in Mount Vernon, not the exception,” stated Mayor Clinton I. Young, Jr.
The event included the dissemination of special awards from the Mayors office, City Council, New York State Assembly and Westchester County Board of Legislators. The youth received Kente Cloth scarves, which are royal cloths of prestige reserved for special occasions. Guest speaker, Westchester County Board Legislator Lyndon Williams, recognized the parents who raised the amazing honorees and encouraged the youth to continue to serve the community. The event’s organizer, Wayne Woodbury addressed the young men in the STEP Up Program, who despite personal challenges, have graduated high school and are going on to college. Pastor Darren M. Morton from Macedonia Church culminated the event by testifying to the impact of the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau and encouraged the youth return to the community as he has.
Jillian Perry, who will attend Bryn Mawr College in the fall stated, “Over the years the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau has helped me in a variety of ways. My first job with the Youth Bureau gave me the skills necessary to grow and serve my community. As a high school graduate I am overjoyed to be recognized by the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau and the African Brotherhood for my many accomplishments and I hope to continue to accomplish great things in the future.”
Jahi Grannell, who will attend SUNY Buffalo College in the fall stated, “I feel very privileged for being selected for this award. There are so many outstanding students who attend Youth Bureau programs and have given back to the community. I feel honored to be amongst the best and brightest students in the county.”