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At black history event, young people encouraged to think now about their future

February 19, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • The Rev. Harrison D. Graves leads the band, Chosen, in several musical selections Sunday afternoon during the YMCA Black History program at Bridge of Life Church in Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

The chief operating officer for Meritus Medical Center told youths at a black history program Sunday at Bridge of Life church on South Potomac Street that there are stipulations to achieve promise in life.

Deborah Addo Samuels’ advice came as she told a story from Judges 13 in the Bible about a barren woman who was to give birth.

But part of a commandment to the woman was not consuming any wine, strong drink or eating any unclean thing, Samuel said.

“With all of us, if there’s a promise in life, it comes with a stipulation,” said Samuels, who is responsible for planning, developing, implementing and evaluating clinical and administrative operations of patient-care services at the hospital.

To put the lesson in a modern perspective, Samuels told the students to think about some recent stories that have been in the news or some issues that have surrounded candidates for U.S. president.

Samuels asked the students to consider if some of the presidential candidates had known when they were teenagers how their lives were going to turn out whether they would have made different choices.

To achieve promise takes work, Samuels said.

“There are certain things we have to do. There’s certain things we can’t do. There’s things we’ll give up and there are things we will need to take on,” she said.

The black history program was sponsored by YMCA Achievers, a diversity program for students in grades six to 12.

The achievers program, which is part of a national program that began at the Harlem, N.Y., YMCA in 1971, connects adult role models with students to help the youths set career and educational goals. It is also intended to turn idle time among youths into productive time.

Students in the local program have been to the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol as part of their experience, Natalie Brown, a representative for the local YMCA Achievers, told about 85 people at Sunday’s event.

Twenty-six youths are in the local YMCA Achievers, and many were at Sunday’s program. Some of them also performed during the event, including Matthew Murray, who sang a solo.

Sunday’s event mixed words of wisdom with music and other art forms.

An all-male group known as Chosen put some groove in the event with their soulful music.

Harrison Graves, one of the lead singers of the Martinsburg, W.Va.-based group, started a jazzy, funky number and proclaimed “It makes you want to move.”

Graves said “just because we’re Christians” doesn’t mean they weren’t going to have some fun.

Most of the members in the group are military veterans, said Graves, adding that he started collecting equipment for the group and God did his part.

“He just brought everyone to us,” Graves said.

Other performances during the 3 p.m. event included the Mime Ministry from Zion Baptist Church in Hagerstown and a solo by singer Melissa Miller.

Also speaking was Julianna Albowicz, a representative of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. Albowicz relayed a message from Mikulski, who honored black women who have made a difference in society.

In her message,  Mikulski talked about her continuing effort to establish two national parks to honor Harriet Tubman, a slave who helped hundreds of others like her obtain freedom in the mid-1800s.

Tubman was born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Mikulski said one of the parks would trace her life there.

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