Fitting tribute

January 17, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


According to her friends and family, community activist Ruth Ann Monroe loved clothes and kids.

Sunday, almost three months after Monroe's death, dozens paid tribute to the former executive director of the Memorial Recreation Center by attending the scholarship banquet she helped start. The 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Banquet drew the sponsorship of churches and community groups.

Annette Conyers, a committee treasurer, said Monroe believed the scholarship was another way to reach out to youth.

"She was like the center of the village. What we're trying to do, we're trying to keep the village intact by carrying on her work and her dedication to the youth of the community," Conyers said.

Monroe, who was a "clothes-aholic," would have enjoyed this year's entertainment - a fashion show using black and white clothes, Deborah Washington said.


"So in honor of her because it's dedicated to her, we're doing a fashion show, and the black and white is because that was Martin Luther King's dream, is how it's all tied together," said Washington, who helped find sponsors for the tables.

Tickets to the banquet cost $25 each, and the money goes to scholarships, Conyers said.

Last year, the committee gave out four $500 scholarships, Conyers said.

Black and white balloons in honor of King's dream of racial harmony floated in one section of the center's gymnasium, while creative floral displays and table settings, including a wedding cake and Christmas tree, decorated tables sponsored by various community groups.

Standing up from his table, City Councilman Lew Metzner announced a new marriage of sorts.

"It's been a long time coming, but we're here tonight, and we're here to stay," Metzner told the crowd.

As others ate, Metzner said during dinner that the City of Hagerstown had never before sponsored a table. Since being elected in the fall, Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean, who is black, has helped make city officials more aware of events in the black community, he said.

"This is actually one of the breakthrough moments for the city," Parson-McBean said.

Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, a Democrat candidate for governor, sat beside Metzner before circulating among the crowd. Metzner introduced him to the crowd as "the next governor of the state Maryland."

Duncan, who made a previous stop in Hagerstown to start his campaign, said he thought the event was a good way to raise money for scholarships.

The first recipient of the scholarship, Ronnette Keats, said Monroe loved children.

"She related to the kids, she understood children, which is so important in this day and age because there's so many (people) ready to turn their backs on children, but she didn't," Keats said.

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