The Sarasota County Branch NAACP will celebrate the achievements of individuals, businesses and organizations at its 32nd Annual Freedom Awards Banquet on Thursday, October 5th at the Sarasota Hyatt, recognizing them for their significant contributions to the Sarasota community.

Receiving freedom awards are Jada Bennett and Kenya Woodard, Rising Stars; Maureik Robison, Go Forth and Prosper; James Taylor, Manatee Rural Health Services, Inc. and SURE – Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity, President’s Awards; Valerie Buchand, Community Service; Habitat for Humanity Sarasota, Public Service; Lucile Mobley, Education and JoAnn Martin Hughes, Lifetime Achievement. This week, we feature honorees Valerie Buchand, Maureik Robison, Lucile Mobley, Habitat for Humanity Sarasota and JoAnn Hughes.

Buchand is a native of Sarasota and has spent over 20 years advocating as a volunteer for the rights of low-income citizens. Her efforts have brought about many changes for residents in public housing. She led the fight to rebuild Janie Poe which is now called Janie’s Garden and has worked on numerous issues in the Newtown community. She is currently the President of the Agency-Wide Resident Council, Inc. that serves over 500 families.

Robison is a graduate of Booker High School and received Bachelor of Arts degrees in English Literature and in Humanities from the Florida State University. He taught fourth grade at Emma E. Booker Elementary School and came up with a concept to inspire his students to learn “outside the box”. He rewrote the lyrics to a song by rapper Future called “Wicked”, to a video called “Write It!” The video was developed to help students understand the writing process and promote the FSA Writing Test. He continues to develop curriculum centered on culturally relevant pedagogy to build bridges between African American students, teachers and the community.

Mobley is a licensed clinical social worker and educator, and is the founder and director of a private mental health practice. She has a career record of success that spans 40 years of helping people “use what they have to make what they need”, and is known for her ability to build relationships and trust to generate positive outcomes, growth and development. For 33 years, she has made recommendations, decisions, and coordinated support services for children representing families from different experiences and varied backgrounds in the Sarasota County Public Schools. Habitat for Humanity Sarasota, Inc. (HFHS) has a mission to partner with God and community to provide decent, affordable housing for people in need so they can build better lives for their families. Since 1985, HFHS has provided strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter and is led by Renee Snyder, its Executive Director. It has a dedicated, volunteer workforce that provides about 2,500 hours on each new build site.

Hughes became involved in the civil rights movement during her college years at Florida Memorial College, then located in St. Augustine, Florida. After participating in a lay-in at a local pharmacy with eight other demonstrators, they were arrested and spent 60 days in the St. Johns County jail. She began her teaching career in Manatee County and spent most of those years at Abel Elementary School. In 2005, after 40 years she retired from teaching but continues to volunteer at Abel Elementary.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Anthony J. and the Automatics. For ticket information, call 941-3552097 or email Tickets are $85.00 per person. Cynthia S. Howard was banquet chairperson