Southeast Missouri State University student publication

MLK Humanitarian luncheon honors community service

Thursday, January 21, 2021
Photo submitted by Carolyn Thomas

The 20th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Luncheon was held live via Zoom on Jan. 18, organized by The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. City Wide Celebration Committee.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only national holiday which traditionally calls upon citizens to participate in community service, encouraging people to serve in any way they can.

Many local organizations, including The Salvation Army, United Way of Southeast Missouri and the Martin Luther King Jr. City Wide Celebration Committee organized food drives and care package drop-offs around Cape Girardeau to help combat food insecurity and scarcity in the community.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. City Wide Celebration committee awarded both Carolyn Thomas and Dana Deisher with the Dr. John C. Ritter Humanitarian Service Award.

Thomas and Deisher formed Intelligent Female (IF), an after-school program for young women at Cape Girardeau Central Junior High School. Thomas said IF is dedicated to teaching the next generation of young women how to love themselves and be impactful in their communities.

Thomas, a social worker at Cape Public Schools, was recognized for her years of work with the youth in her community and “stepping out of her comfort zone” to make a difference in the lives of young women, Debra Mitchell-Braxton, committee chairwoman, said.

“We are our own worst enemies when it comes to females, and if we start loving ourselves first, that enemy is no longer within, and we can come out and help each other, encourage each other and love each other,” Thomas said.

Deisher, a school nurse who worked for years at Saint Francis Medical center, was recognized for her work with IF and for outstanding service, ensuring equal care to all her patients, Mitchell-Braxton said.

“It’s phenomenal that we are honored on Martin Luther King Day, because I feel like a lot of his characteristics of peace, of faith, of love, of justice, all of his leadership qualities is what we try to instill in our young ladies to show there is a peaceful means to an end, to get what you want and make a difference,” Deisher said.

The speakers at the luncheon included Spencer Lamar Booker, the reverend of The Cathedral at St. Paul's AME Church, who gave a sermon entitled “The Black Pain Predicament.”