NAACP provides inspiration for all

Published 11:14 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Cass County Sheriff Joe Underwood told those at the local chapter of the NAACP Saturday evening of the cooperation between the two bordering counties.
Underwood said, "Tonight we are here in Berrien County. Cass County is right next door. We don't let county lines get in our way."
Another African American who has achieved a high rank in his community was the guest speaker, Fire Chief Luther Taylor of South Bend, Ind.
His wife, Gwen Vassar Taylor told of his journey from firefighter with the City of South Bend in 1972, to his promotion as captain of an engine company. He advanced to Battalion Chief, and in 1985, to fire chief, He is the only African American firefighter ever to serve with the South Bend Department.
At one point in his career, he took a sabbatical from his duties for one year when former Mayor Joe Kernan, requested he serve as the executive director of state emergency management. During that time, Taylor's responsibilities included working with a $154 million budget.
Taylor compared his personal goals to the evening's theme, which was "Focused and Determined to Make A Difference."
The Taylors are members of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in South Bend and believe in mixing their faith with their work. According to Chief Taylor, he keeps a Bible on his desk and frequently reads his favorite passages from Phillipians 4 and 5.
Taylor also reviewed some of the history of the N.A.A.C.P. in his talk, discussing the organization's progress over the years and the need to continue on that path and not become complacent.
He said, "It takes all of us to make a difference. We all want to be out front, but someone has to take the lead."
He also said, "We are striving to make a difference and we are growing stronger each day. The blessing is in the giving. We need to take that extra step to make the difference."
Lance Wilson, who has a degree in music, played "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" accapella on the trumpet, then said, "There's JZ and Puff Daddy, but there's also Bach and Beethoven," indicating that the youth need to be well rounded to do well in life.
The atmosphere during the evening was one of welcome and acceptance. Each person in attendance at the anniversary celebration was asked to stand up, introduce themselves, and give a greeting. A number of the guests were high school and college students.
High school sophomore, Clarence Williams, was introduced by Saundria Wilson, one of his teachers at Niles High School. She said, "Clarence is one of the best basketball players at Niles High School and he'll be one of the best players in the NBA someday."
Also given a special introduction were graduate students from Andrews University. Each spoke of their hopes and plans for serving the cause of peace.
One is Althea Joseph, an Andrews graduate in 2004 with an M.S. in Human nutrition. She is serving as a dietician for Inter Care in Dowagiac.
Shari Osborn who has a Masters in Business Administration from Andrews.
The other students were all working towards their Masters of Divinity at the school. They are: Andre' Hastick, Trevan Osborn, Shari Osborn, and Otis Coutoumpos.
Otis' wife, Deidre Coutoumpos, is studying to be a Dula (midwife).
In closing, the current president of the Niles branch of the N.A.A.C.P., Saundria Wilson, summed up the evening.
Wilson quoted Margaret Meade, saying, "Never doubt that a small group of concerned and thoughtful citizens can make a difference. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever does."