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Monroe is honored for years of service

December 20, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - For her selfless devotion and tireless leadership as director of Hagerstown's Memorial Recreation Center, Ruth Monroe was honored Sunday night at an appreciation dinner attended by more than 100 people.

"She is one person who takes the time to bring liberation to our young people. She goes before public officials and pleads the cause of our young people when others would give up," said Bishop Derek Kee, who served as master of ceremonies.

Kee is pastor of Greater Campher Temple, King's Apostle Holiness Church, of which Monroe, 63, is a member. He and others compared Monroe's dedication to that of historic women figures Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman.

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"She's been a civil rights leader for the people of this community," said the Rev. L.J. Guillory of Ill Bro. Studio, a recording studio on Franklin Street.

City officials, former Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, family members and others from the community attended the dinner at the Martin Luther King Center on North Avenue. Monroe was showered with gifts and many heartfelt remarks for her 24 years of service to youths in and around the Jonathan Street community.

Over the years, hundreds of youths have participated in numerous programs at the center, organizers said.

"She took me under her wing and raised me. She gives back to her community," said Brian Robinson, who grew up in the Jonathan Street community.

"She's always been about the kids, and she's passed that love for children on to me. That's why I do what I do today," said Kenny Keyes, the oldest of Monroe's six children and Hagerstown Community College's head basketball coach.

Monroe, surrounded by her sister and children at the head table, said that despite the center's financial hardships, she continues to be inspired by the children she has served over the years.

"God puts you where He wants you to be. And He's put me where He wants me to be," she said.

In addition to work at the center, Monroe has served as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Committee. For nearly 20 years, the committee made up of local citizens has awarded college scholarships to Washington County students. She also has served on the boards of several area organizations.

Monroe frequently was referred to as "Nanny" at Sunday night's program. It's a title Alesia Parson said Monroe rightfully has earned.

"She's a nurturer. She lends herself to every aspect of a child's life," Parson said. "She's always been a champion for self-improvement."

Monroe's influence has reached a broad section of the community, crossing color lines, many on hand said.

An emotional Eric Campbell, who owns New Visions Sports Lounge on Jonathan Street, drew applause as he presented Monroe with a plaque and thanked her for helping him overcome struggles as a youth.

"Ruth is a one-of-a-kind person. I would like to think when we get a City of Hagerstown's hall of fame, Ruth would be one of the first inductees," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said.

On behalf of the city, Metz-ner and Councilwoman Carol N. Moller presented Monroe with a replica of the clock in Hagerstown's Public Square. Bruchey presented Monroe with proclamations from the City of Hagerstown and the City of Compton, Calif.

Sunday's appreciation dinner was organized by Ill Bro. Studio and the Community Focus Group. Community Focus Group was formed in the spring to raise money to keep the Memorial Recreation Center open, organizers said.

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