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Black achievers honored

January 21, 2007|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN - They don't live the glamorous lifestyle of actors. They don't have the fame of professional athletes, and their names aren't in lights.

For Dawn Brooks, Natalie Brown, Jerry Lewis and Nancy Steel, none of that is necessary to make it in the world.

The ingredients to being successful, they say, are loving God, making positive choices and working hard.

They hope to instill those values in black youths, and move them toward setting and achieving high educational and career goals.

The four were honored Saturday night at the Hagerstown YMCA 2007 Black Achievers Gala at Four Points Sheraton.

Brooks, Brown, Lewis and Steel, all employees of First Data, are in the 2007 class of Adult Achievers, tasked with being role models and mentors to black youths.

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The achievers program offers activities "designed to give seventh- to (12th)-grade students exposure to career, educational and social opportunities that (are) not readily available to them. These opportunities enable students to make informed decisions and develop the skills necessary to compete successfully in life," according to the achievers program.

"It's a great honor," Steel said. "It is another way of keeping Dr. (Martin Luther) King's dream alive."

Brown said the program gives youths someone to look up to and respect.

Black Achievers stresses "being a positive influence on young people, and letting them know anything is possible," Brooks said.

Lewis said he hopes the youths in the program also grow into mentors so they can teach other youths how to make positive choices and be successful.

A good way of doing that is to lead by example and with morals, he said.

"Let them know that the Lord's always here," Lewis said. "There's always someone higher that you have to answer to."

Tracey L. Pinson, director of the Small Business Programs Office for the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Army, encouraged black youths in her keynote address to always work hard in what she called a competitive world.

"Bottom line: You have got to be better," Pinson said.

She told the students to never give up on their dreams.

"Everything is obtainable if you work hard for it," Steel said.

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