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2009 Scholarship Recipients: (L to R) Lady Beverly Ryder, recipients, Joseph Smith, Hyacinth Caprice Noble, Danielle LaTrice Hohnson, Alisha Lyn Johson, Noel Grigsby and Lady Brenda McDowell.Â As the Legacy Ladies celebrated their 5th Anniversary and the Torch Awards, the color that the Legacy Ladies wore with such grace and style was blue, however the mood that filled the ballroom was far from blue. The evening was filled with the celebration of the spirit of helping others, of giving from the heart.Â
The black tie gala was held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Traditionally, the Torch Awards promises to be one of the most unforgettable events of the year and the Legacy Ladies did not disappoint. The elegant evening was emceed by KNBC4 anchor Chris Schauble.Â
As the guests arrived they were greeted with the creative art offerings from students at Crenshaw High School. The work was created by the students as part of 2009 World AIDS Awareness Day. Easels displaying the deep impressions of AIDS and its impact on the world from the students' point of view graced the foyer of the ballroom.
As the doors opened to the ballroom the level of excitement was heightened by the magnificent decor. The tables were adorned with original floral creations and table designs by fashion designer, Pol Atteu. As the The Jazzy Boy Jeff Band played and guests were seated, the anticipation of what was to be another wonderful and moving experience was under way.
The tone of the evening was set with a moving invocation by Dr. Helen Easterling Williams, the Dean of Education at Azusa Pacific University.Â Â
The Legacy Ladies then introduced their 2009 Torch Award Honorees. These are individuals who paved the way for others through their lifetime of achievement, contributions and service to others.
The 2009 honorees were: Southwest Airlines, one of the nation's premier low fare air carriers and Jackie Thompson, Southwest Airlines' Community Affairs Manager West Coast, Colorado, and Texas; Furnell Chatman, recently retired weekend anchor and reporter for KNBC4; Ed Dwight, renowned sculptor and the first African American astronaut trainee; Cookie Johnson, philanthropist, child advocate, and board secretary of the Magic Johnson Foundation; Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, philanthropists and renowned collectors of African American art, books and manuscripts; and Victoria Rowell, actress and founder of the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan which enriches foster children through artistic and athletic expression.
As part of their mission to support students aspiring to fulfill their dreams of attending college, Legacy Ladies awarded a total of $25,000 in scholarships to five graduating seniors from Crenshaw High School and View Park Preparatory Accelerated High School. The 2009 Legacy Ladies Scholars are: Crenshaw High Seniors Noel Grigsby, Hyacinth Capries Noble, and Joseph Smith; and View Park Prep seniors Alisha Lyn Johnson and Danielle LaTrice Johnson. The M.A.R.C.H. Foundation, a group of UPS retired volunteers and the Ken and Kay Jarvis Foundation joined in partnership with Legacy Ladies to name Joseph Smith and Alisha Lyn Johnson respectively as their 2009 Scholars.
The highlight of the evening was the introduction of the 2009 Families of the Year. In celebration of its fifth anniversary, Legacy Ladies' selected five families as their 2009 Families of the Year.Â During these hard economic times, the families selected have had particularly difficult circumstances to overcome, and Legacy Ladies is supporting them in the area of housing, transportation, or education to help improve their quality of life, and get them back on their feet. Legacy Ladies provided over $30,000 in assistance including rent and security deposit support, an electric wheelchair and a retrofitted van, children's clothing and gas gift cards, payment of overdue bills, and a computer to help a family member attend college. Additionally, each family received $500 to help in stretching household expenses.
Each family's story was presented to the audience followed by the presentation of the specific gifts. Emotions ran high in the ballroom as the attendees watched each family graciously receive the gifts designed for their special circumstance. The families were overwhelmed with great appreciation and hope for the future.
In response to the families' stories, the audience and friends of Legacy Ladies also joined in this celebration by generously donating additional gifts. The response was spontaneous and applauded by everyone in attendance.Â Bernard and Shirley Kinsey donated computers to the scholarship recipients, Denise Hunter of FAME Renaissance provided housing, and Rhonda Holford Santifer of the Celebration of Life Cancer Ministry donated funds to help one of the family members suffering from stage four cancer.Â Southwest Airlines also generously provided two families with airline tickets to enable them to visit family members.
Â "Our goal continues to be transforming lives through education and other resources. As the evening comes to a close we are encouraged by the generosity of others, the belief that we must provide a safety net for those in need and that the torch the Legacy Ladies ignited five years ago will continue to burn in support of underserved communities," said Jacqueline Castillo, President and Founder of Legacy Ladies, Inc.Â Â Â
The evening's title sponsor was United Parcel Service. Other sponsors included U.S. Bank, Los Angeles Speech and Language Therapy Center, M.A.R.C.H. Foundation, Ken and Kay Jarvis Foundation, The Castillo Charitable Foundation, Union Bank and Lorna Johnson, NestlÅ½ USA, The Walt Disney Company, Matthew and Roberta Jenkins Foundation, Bill Shack and Jin Jin Reeves, and Southwest Airlines, Legacy Ladies Inc.'s official airline carrier.
Elgin Charles of Beverly Hills and Pol Atteu, outfitted and coiffed the Family of the Year honorees. Mr. Atteu also generously donated the flowers and table decorations for the evening.Â Special recognition was given to Bernadette Garland who designed the honoree trophies. NestlÅ½ USA, Gianna Drake Kerrison, and Anthony Scott of Mindset Multimedia were also recognized for their contributions. The Torch Awards gala evening was produced by Dannette Wilkerson.
Legacy Ladies Inc., established in June 2004, by Jacqueline Castillo, is a non-profit organization designed to serve as a catalyst for change, improve the quality of life, and to empower disadvantaged communities through education and other resources.
The members are Jacqueline Berryman, Jacqueline Castillo, Barbara Coleman, Rhonda Cotton, Linda Fuller, Patricia Gibson, Lorna Mae Johnson, Brenda McDowell, Beverly Ryder, and Loretta Williams. Honorary members are:Â Katrina Schauble, Terri Hines and Nancy Wilson.
For more information on Legacy Ladies Inc. visit their website at www.legacyladiesinc.com or call (310) 335-0291.