Three people and four organizations received recognition Sunday at the 15th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Acts of Kindness Awards Presentation Gala.
The seven awards covered assorted public service categories inspired by the slain civil rights leader's life and legacy.
The categories included Business, Community Involvement, Education, Spirit, Volunteerism, Trailblazer and Drum Major.
The winners were the Housing Authority of Texarkana, Texas; the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; Juanita Inez Harris; the Men of Lonoke Baptist Church; the Texarkana College Black Student Association; Andrew Mathis Hill; and Toney Favors.
Business Award: Housing Authority, Texarkana, Texas
Established 79 years ago, HATT's mission of providing affordable housing and giving residents the chance to achieve self-sufficiency and quality of life remains a continuous goal. HATT strives to furnish housing for low-income families, the elderly and residents with disabilities.
"All of the credit belongs to the HATT staff because we have a very dedicated staff, so thank you very much for this award,"said HATT Executive Director Antonio Williams.
"It's been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but we as children of that village should give back, so thank you all very much."—Toney Favors, director for admissions for Texarkana A&M University-Texarkana and Drum Major Award recipient at the gala
Community Involvement Award: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
As a well-known service organization in the Texarkana area since its March 9, 1975, chartering, this local Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter continues to sponsor many projects in support of the national organization's international goals.
Locally, the chapter is involved in the annual Heart Walk as well as serving hundreds of families with back-to-school needs and supplying volunteers for the Texarkana Independent School District's Partners in Education program and for the Salvation Army's Feed the Homeless program. The group also takes part in the area's annual coat drive. Its membership further participates in guiding middle and high school students in leadership roles and cultural activities, and they sponsor projects to raise scholarship funds for local students.
"There are so many people in this community that need the help we provide, so thank you so much for this recognition," said AKA Sorority President Dr. M. Juanita Roberson.
Education Award: Juanita Inez Harris
As a 2006 graduate from Arkansas High School, Juanita Inez Harris went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in childhood education and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction—both from Southern Arkansas University. She now teaches kindergarten and first-grade students at Union Elementary School, as she has for the last four years. Harris became that campus's Teacher of the Year in 2017, and last year she received the Texarkana, Ark., School District's Teacher of the Year Award.
As a member of the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Harris serves as a youth leader and Sunday School teacher as well as a counselor and mentor for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's Agriculture Learning and Discovery Program. She also teaches at Southern Arkansas University's Kids' College.
"I'm honored and it feels so cool to be recognized by my city and I would especially like to thank God for all he has done for me," Harris said.
Spirit Award: Men of Lonoke Baptist Church
This group's purpose, mission and objective is to give all men, both church members and non-members, a chance to serve God, serve the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and study God's word. The group cooks and serves at the annual MLK Prayer Breakfast as well as at the Iron Mountain Center, the Faith, Love and Hope Center and Arkansas High School.
"Thank you all for this award, and we love to cook—so as long as we love to cook, we will be here," said Douglas Arnold Sr., the group's president.
Volunteerism Award: Texarkana College's Black Student Association
Since its 1990 inception, TC's Black Student Association has volunteered to work on the Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet as well as the annual MLK and Black History Month events. Last August, the association volunteered to paint benches at one of the local day care centers. They also work on getting the college's float ready for the annual Four States Fair and Christmas parades in addition to participating in the annual Race for the Cure, the TC campus voter registration drives and in collecting food donations for TC's food pantry.
"We would like to say thanks to you all for this award and we will continue to look forward to working hard for our community," said the association's president, Aaron Kelley.
Trailblazers Award: Andrew Mathis Hill
Born and raised in Texarkana, Andrew Mathis Hill is a licensed and ordained minister and currently pastors the 11th Street Baptist Church on the Arkansas side.
As a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Arkansas High School, class of 1983, Hill went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude in 1987 from Jackson State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. He later graduated in 2008 from Colorado Tech University in Colorado Springs with a Master of Science degree in management, focusing on internet technology. He works for the Texarkana, Ark., School District.
Hill began his career at South Central Bell in June 1987 as a management assistant in the Mississippi Comptroller's Office. There, he eventually moved up to assistant staff manager in both the revenue accounting office and the data processing center. By October 1991, Hill transferred to Birmingham,Ala., where he served in various senior analytical roles for Bell South Telecommunications.
Hill eventually worked for Electronic Data Systems, Hewlett Packard and AT&T Southeast before returning to Texarkana in 2010 to work for Workforce Solutions in Northeast Texas as a project accountant until moving on to work for TASD in May 2013.
"I want to give all the glory and honor to God and I want to thank my wonderful church and my wife," he said.
Drum Major Award: Toney Favors
Toney Favors, who currently serves as director of admissions for Texas A&M University-Texarkana, received a bachelor's degree in business administration and a Master of Science degree in the same field, both from TAMU-T.
Favors has 25 years' experience in higher education, serves as president-elect of the North East Texas Association of Black School Educators and helps coordinate the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce's College and Career Fair event each year.
"This is truly an honor to even be recognized," he said. "It's been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but we as children of that village should give back, so thank you all very much."