When leaning in a direction that keeps the status quo going, one may not seek to challenge him/herself to push harder, further, and often. However, that is and was not the case or mission for UMADAOP during their 30th year Conference in South Toledo at The Radisson Hotel, held on September 11 - 13.
Hundreds gathered from across the state of Ohio and this nation to be a part of what proved to be meaningful, relevant, and certainly necessary in serving people in communities where the social ills of drugs and alcohol have become an epidemic. The theme of the conference was: A LEGACY OF LEADERSHIP: PRESERVING THE PAST, MOVING TO THE NEXT LEVEL.
This year's conference began on Tuesday evening with a COMMUNITY CONVERSATION on violence facilitated by Albert Earl. The conference host, Mr. John Edwards, Sr. and the Toledo UMADAOP, reached beyond the aisle to empower attendees in an extraordinary manner. Mr. Edwards's welcome to the attendees, encouraged them to focus on the mission of UMADAOP, understanding that " Through the years we have successfully built upon our legacy, learning from the past and using those lessons to move us forward, never losing focus on why we're here, the people we serve and the communities we are called to make better".
The Conference guest speakers were people of notoriety that ranged from Politicians, Preachers, An Actor, State Officials, Directors, Professor, and esteemed Professionals in their respective fields. Greetings were given by Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz , Scott Sylak of the Mental Health Recovery Services, and Councilman Larry Sykes. A Proclamation was also presented by State Representative Paula Hicks Hudson. Each of the Speakers presented a definite uniqueness in their approach to sharing life stories, paths, and journeys. Much of what occurred through the Facilitators during the Workshops, Opening Session, and Luncheon, was inspirational, informative, and encouraged to be life changing.
On Wednesday evening, the Red Carpet Awards Dinner took place in the Mahogany Ballroom, where four awards were presented to the following: the Helen Postell Award was given to Jaden Jefferson, an 11 year old youth; the African American Award was given to Bishop Marjorie Holt, Ph. D. for demonstrating commitment to advancing the cause of Black people; the Miguel A. Priest o Recognition Award was given to Juan Cancel, a former UMADAOP Bd. Member who advocates for and promotes the mission of Hispanic UMADAOP; the William Mallory Award was given to The Buffalo Soldiers for their commitment to improving the quality of life in the AA and Hispanic communities. Bro. Larry Jones served as the Master of Ceremony for the awards and Lady K and Intuition provided the music for the evening.
Some of the Keynote Speakers were Rev. Dr. Renita Weems, Co-Pastor of Ray Of Hope Community Church, Nashville, Tn., Ray Miller, Publisher Of Columbus and Dayton African American News Journal, Sergeant Ike Brown, Sr. from Jacksonville, Fl., who adopted the young man who murdered his son; Lamman Rucker, Actor, Educator who stars in T V series Greenleaf, Why Did I Get Married and Meet The Browns and Angela Dawson, Executive Director, Ohio Commission on Minority Health, Columbus, Oh. The 27 Workshops that were facilitated by skilled professionals from across the state and the country, took place during the three days of the conference.
Congratulations to Mr. John Edwards, Sr. and the Toledo UMADAOP on a successful 30th year conference. Special thanks also to UMADAOP of Ohio Federation and the Executive Directors from Akron, Donald Christian; Cincinnati , Anthony Smith; Cleveland, Jessica Horn; Dayton, Marquita Robinson; Columbus, L. Craig Comedy; Hispanic UMADAOP, Nelson Ramirez; Lima, Myrtle Lighton; Lorain, Ruth Williams; Mansfield, Dennis Baker, and Youngstown, Daryl Alexander. Support was provided by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Shemane Marsh and Dawn Thomas, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County and a number of other supporting sponsors. Conference Planners were Jill Frost and Melony Brunson.