The Sarasota County Branch, NAACP Youth Council held its Seventh Annual Men of Valor Awards breakfast on Saturday, June 24 at the Robert L. Taylor Complex. The men of valor awards are presented to men who have given extraordinary service toward the development of children, youth and families in Sarasota through their work in the community and/or in their churches.

This year’s honorees were Dumaka Atkins, Kenneth Evans, Jr. , Hugh Yancy, Jr., Trenton Davis, Sheldon Cantrell and Rashad Dawkins.

The organization of valor was the Barbershop Men of Prayer. Keynote speaker at the breakfast was Rev. Patrick Miller, pastor of Bethlehem Bible Church. Coach Atkins was recognized for his work with the Booker High School football team and his efforts to monitor and track his student-athletes on their academic success. Evans continues to work with youth in the community through his Academy-MESI Camp which is designed, among other things, to strengthen youth through team work and academic success. As the head girls basket- ball coach at Booker Middle School, the team won their first basketball county championship under his leadership.

Davis, Cantrell and Dawkins co-founded Operation Jump Start, Inc., which serves dis- advantaged families in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Part of its mission is to provide families with tools to succeed in school and build stronger households. Yancy was instrumental in the rebuilding of the Newtown Little League where many improvements were made during his tenure as president including the addition of bathroom facilities, concessions and a new batting cage. The Barbershop Men of Prayer, founded by Greg Buchanan and Bill Parrot, is an organization of Christian men that was formed to reward kids in the community who are doing positive things and help make a difference in their lives.

The 2017 Man of the Year Award went to Rev. Patrick Miller, who was also the keynote speaker. The Youth Council’s Man of the Year demonstrates what a man of valor is all about: courage, fortitude, boldness and a man who thinks outside the box. Rev. Miller has served as pastor at Bethlehem for the past 20 years and through his vision, the Horizons Unlimited Christian Academy was formed because of his concern for our children’s spiritual growth and character formation.

Jada Bennett, president of the Sarasota County Youth Council, served as Mistress of Ceremonies.

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