cymca fairfax gilbert mlk winnersPHOTO: Iyanna Fairfax, Freehold, and Shinelle Gilbert, Neptune, were the essay winners.

Shrewsbury, NJ – On Monday, The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County hosted the 26th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast featuring guest speaker Pastor Terrence K. Porter of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Red Bank, and winners of an essay contest. The event took place at Branches Catering, 123 Monmouth Road, West Long Branch, NJ.


The annual breakfast celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King and his impact on today’s youth was attended by nearly 300 area residents, students, community leaders and friends of the Y.

“Celebrating the legacy of Dr. King is important on so many levels,” said Rhonda Anderson, President and CEO of The Community YMCA. “Individually it encourages people to reflect on their sense of service toward others. As a community it is a reminder that we should reach out to each other and build bridges of tolerance. As a nation, it serves to remind us that we are all Americans, above all else.”

As part of the MLK community service project, new gloves, hats, mittens and scarves were collected to support Monmouth County’s Project Homeless Connect project. Donations will continue to be collected at all Y locations until Friday, January 23. Local residents are encouraged to volunteer for the Point of Time Count on Wednesday, January 28, which is a comprehensive community-wide survey of all those experiencing homelessness during a single, 24-hour period. This count is conducted every year throughout the state of New Jersey.

cymca anderson porter mlkPHOTO: Rhonda Anderson, President & CEO of The Community, and Terrence Porter, Keynote speaker and Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red Bank.

Pastor Porter stepped in to replace Reverend Jacquelyn Rowe of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, who was scheduled to deliver the keynote address, but was unable to attend due to an illness. 

The annual event included a student essay contest. Students were asked to submit an essay reflecting on their interpretations of the teachings of Dr. King.

Shinelle N. Gilbert of Neptune High School and Iyanna Fairfax of Freehold Borough High School were the essay winners. Each read their winning essays on how they can demonstrate social responsibility to improve the welfare of others and serve their community. They each were the recipient of a $500 scholarship, sponsored by Meridian Health and Two River Community Bank.

Iyanna Fairfax also gave the invocation. Other students who participated were Kason Jackson, of the State University of New Jersey, who gave the benediction.  Biotech High School student Anekha Goyal and Belmar Academy Charter School student Tia Hicks-Hunter served as emcees.

Vocalist Genise Hughes led guests in the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and was joined by her daughter Amani, 15, for another song.

For more information on volunteering for Monmouth County’s Point in Time Count, call 732.747.2343 for the Red Bank area or 732.775.0525, ext. 205 for the Asbury area.