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Brookdale Community College – “We are our brother and our sister’s keeper.” So spoke Mary S. Scott, chairperson of the annual dinner honoring the legacy of the former Brookdale police chief who lived by those words. In an evening filled with emotion, passion and good will, 15 local individuals and organizations were recognized for displaying Ray’s commitment to community work. The 29th Annual Wilbur Ray Scholarship Dinner was held March 7 at Branches restaurant, West Long Branch.
“Everyone here is an unsung hero in our community,” Scott told the group of honorees, their friends and families, community members and members of the Brookdale staff and board of trustees.
Sgt. Wilbur Ray was a long-time and devoted member of the Brookdale Community College police force. He was actively involved in his community of Long Branch, where he was a church trustee, sat on the board of adjustment and participated actively in Little League, the Liberty Community Center, the Afro-American Society and other civic and cultural associations. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Wilbur Ray Scholarship Program, which awards $1,000 and $500 scholarships to students of color.
“Wilbur Ray’s legacy is what he gave to our students, staff and the community,” Dr. Maureen Murphy, president, said in addressing the 150 people in attendance.
Prior to the presentation of plaques and certificates from Sen. Frank Pallone, members of Ray’s family, including his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson addressed the group. “Young people need the kind of role models you’ll see this evening,” his son-in-law said.
Among those individuals honored were Lonnie Allgood, a former professional football player who founded “Dreams for Kids,” a company devoted to helping youth seek productive paths, and Darryl Hughes, manager of cultural diversity for Meridian Health, who noted that his mother’s graduation from Brookdale was the reason he was able to attend college.
Also honored was Rev. Jacqueline Dianne Carr-Hamilton, a Silver Life Member of the NAACP who advised the group not to hold back their daughters, but instead to “show them in life what God will help them to do,” and Rev. William E. Coleman Jr., who said it was everyone’s responsibility to help make their community better.
“If not me, then who? If not now, when?” he asked.
Other individuals honored were Andres Mejer, an attorney committed to serving those without a voice, John Horl, co-founder of Parker Family Health Center in Red Bank, and Heather Childs, director of Childs Funeral Home in Red Bank.
Honored organizations were the Ocean Chapter of Drifters, The Links, the North Jersey Shore Chapter of the Continental Societies, the Fourth Order of the Eastern Star Prince Hall Affiliation for the Jurisdiction of New Jersey, the Fourth Masonic District Prince Hall Masons, the Zeta Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Neptune Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.