By Lynn Jones – The Beta Alpha Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., held their 12th annual Community Pearls Luncheon at Cubre Libra Restaurant attended by over 300 participants. Family members, friends and chapter members joined together to recognize local first responders including firefighters, police officers, paramedics and emergency personnel.
This year the Chapter chose first responders to educate the mindset of local citizens to understand the impact of first responders in the community and around the state.
“First responders are the first to your rescue. When you call 911, these individuals are there and are the first on the front line to save you and your family,” said Chapter President Herlena Washington.
Emcee Ken Jefferson was excited to present his peers with awards for their outstanding service of providing protection and rescue service to the community.
“For twenty-four years, I served the Jacksonville community as a law enforcement officer. I was honored to meet many citizens and also diffuse various situations. The honorees here today are to be commended for their service to the city and their families,” said Jefferson.
Judge Angela Cox served as the guest speaker and spoke to the crowd about her career as a judge and remarked, “When I was a senior in high school, tragedy struck my family and this is when I became curious about the judicial system. I have served with the police officer and firefighters to ensure the citizens are treated fairly when tragedy strikes. We also have to consider that when these first responders are called out to a rescue, it very well may be their last day on the job. My husband is a police officer and he always tells me to never bring a gavel to a gun fight,” she said smiling.
Guest enjoyed a buffet luncheon, door prizes and fellowship with the honorees while supporting BAZ scholarships for college students. The Beta Alpha Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was formed April 12, 1944 and continues to carry out the principles and initiatives of finer womanhood, service and scholarship.
Shown seated l-r are honorees, First African American Female Firefighter Wanda Butler, State Trooper Jazmin Grant, Police Officer Samantha Griffin, State Trooper Brianna J. Onorato, BAZ Chapter President Herlena Washington, Guest Speaker Judge Angela Cox, First African American Female Police Office Retha Butler and Emergency management Rep Dana Shropshire. Standing l-r are honorees Firefighter Alan Byerly, Firefighter Keith Clair, Police Officer Travis J. Cox, Detective Bradley Emerson, Emcee Ken Jefferson, Firefighter Anthony Ragan, Firefighter Terrence Jones and Firefighter Aristides Diaz. Ron Lott Photo