October 11, 2005
Metro East youths give back to communitiesCARBONDALE, Ill. -- Four faith-based organizations in the Metro East area are recipients of new computers thanks to local teens who participated in a leadership weekend at Southern Illinois University Carbondale last month.
The teens built brand new computers during the third Paul Simon Leadership Conference at SIUC's Touch of Nature Environmental Center Sept. 17-18. The four organizations received computers on Monday, Oct. 10, during ceremonies at East St. Louis Community College Center.
SIUC's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute sponsors the leadership program. Approximately 45 high school students participated in the event, which focuses on enhancing leadership qualities of African-American young men.
The conference objective is to reinforce positive qualities of the participants and build upon their leadership skills, along with career awareness education. The conference name honors Paul Simon, the founder of SIUC's Public Policy Institute, who died in December 2003.
Simon and institute director Mike Lawrence used a 1994 report by the Illinois Commission on African American Males, chaired by former Illinois Attorney General and SIUC graduate Roland W. Burris, as inspiration for the weekend. That report offered recommendations in several areas, including economic development and employment, education, family life and African-American manhood, health and housing.
"Paul Simon had a direct hand in setting the goals of the Leadership Weekend Conference," Lawrence said. "He was committed to helping the Metro East live up to its potential and knew that one of the most effective ways of honoring that commitment was to reach out to the area's young residents. He not only believed that youth were the future but also that we had a responsibility to groom them for personal and professional success."
The four organizations that received computers are:
- First Freewill Missionary Baptist Church, 544 N. 27th St., East St. Louis; Eldress Dorothy Fleming.
- St. John's Missionary Baptist Church, 4264 Piggott, Centreville; the Rev. Robert C. Jones
- New Horizons Community Church, 10610 W. Main St., Belleville.
- Bray Temple CME Church, 2416 St. Louis Ave., East St. Louis;
Two participants, Shauntez Fair of East St. Louis Senior High School and Thomas Butler, a freshman at Cahokia Senior High School, received computers based on their leadership, weekend participation, conduct and character. Fair, the son of Edna and Curtis Fair of East St. Louis, received the Paul Simon Leadership and Character Award, based upon his participation, leadership and character. Butler is the son of Darrin and Talisa Franklin of Cahokia.
Among the fraternal and community-based groups in the Metro East area participating are Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, and Omega Psi Psi fraternities, the Top Ladies of Distinction Inc., Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Charter School, and the East St. Louis Community College Center, all in East St. Louis.
The institute received funding for this year's program from the Illinois Community College Board and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Higher Learning Center. The East St. Louis Community College Center contributed the monitors for the computer systems.
Last year, four community-based organizations received computers from a leadership weekend.
Serving others and enhancing outreach activities are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.
(Caption: Outstanding Leader – Shauntez Fair, a senior at East St. Louis High School, accepts the Paul Simon Leadership and Character Award during the third Paul Simon Leadership Conference at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Sept. 17-18. Approximately 45 high school students participated in the two-day event that focuses on enhancing leadership qualities of African-American young men. To Fair’s right is institute director Mike Lawrence. Fair is the son of Edna and Curtis Fair of East St. Louis.)Photo by Phil Bankester