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Annual MLK awards, celebration next Sunday
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The annual 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Ecumenical Program will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, in Porter Memorial Auditorium at Newton High School.

The keynote speaker for the event will be State House District 113 Representative Pam Dickerson. Dickerson serves Rockdale and Newton counties and is the only freshman Democrat to have had a bill passed out of the House of Representatives.

This year's program will also feature artistic performances from county youth, musical selections from the Interdenominational Choir, and presentations of the "I Have a Dream Award" and the "Trailblazer Award."
Each year during the program, the citizens of Newton County recognize outstanding individuals and/or organizations whose service to the community embodies the tenets of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy on social justice and community empowerment.

The "I Have a Dream Award" and the "The Trailblazer Award" are presented to worthy individuals and organizations nominated by members of the community. Criteria for each of the awards are as follows:

I Have a Dream Award
The nominee must have given at least two years of service to the Newton County community; must be a registered voter; should be affiliated with a church/synagogue/worship center; nominee's contributions must be nonprofitable and visible to the community; nominee's contributions must be non-discriminatory; must be one who models a spirit of peace and unity; be one who will initiate and support change; be endowed with a humble spirit; be steadfast in his/her convictions; and be one who fosters and supports education on all levels.Last year, the "I Have a Dream Award" winner was Archie Shepherd.

Shepherd was chosen because of his work with a "jailhouse ministry." labor issues as a union representative for 18 years. helping deserving people get disability benefits and his longstanding work with the local NAACP chapter. He is also a 32nd degree Mason and former worshipful master, is on the board of directors of the Willing Helpers Medical Clinic and helped start Literacy Volunteers, the predecessor of Newton Reads.

Trailblazer Award
The nominee must be a long time citizen of Newton County; be a registered voter; be a creator of change in the community and follow through to implementation; the change facilitated by the nominee must be a benefit to the community; must be resourceful and committed to all aspects of the county; and must foster a cohesive spirit of peace, unity, diversity and love.

Last year's winner was Cathelene Perry, who has been a member of the adult NAACP for 37 years and was second vice-president when she won.

She also serves as a volunteer driver transporting children to and from Bethlehem Baptist Church's Summer Feeding Program, is a member of Washington Street Community Center and, as someone who is HIV-positive, helps those with HIV and AIDS education.

The committee also welcomes any financial contributions for the event. Donations can be mailed to MLK Ecumenical Service, c/o Mrs. Josephine Brown, P.O. Box 185, Covington GA 30015.