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Local Leaders Honored at “Celebration of Excellence” Awards Gala

Aldon Thomas Stiles, IVN

On Jan. 20, the Inland Valley News Inc., in partnership with the Morrow Pancreatic Health Foundation, held its 24th Annual Celebration of Excellence Awards Gala & Silent Auction in Ontario.

Sponsored by 20 different organizations, including charitable foundations, school districts, and even the city of Fontana, this yearly event is a community outreach program that honors community members and leaders in the Inland Empire who have served the community in extraordinary ways.

“The Excellence Award is one of the largest events that we have in the Inland Empire,” said Terrance L. Stone, Founder and CEO of the Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy, and President of The Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce High Desert Chapter.

“It brings the west end together from the east end to the high desert, and everyplace else. This is one of the most prestigious events that we have in the Empire,” he said.

Hundreds of people registered for the event. The honorees were awarded for their excellent work in healthcare, government, church, media, business, education, housing and transportation.

Emmett L. Terrell, who had the education innovation award named after him, praised the honorees, saying that “excellence” is the perfect word to sum up what the honorees have done for the Inland Empire.

A live band performed, dinner was served and speeches were delivered.

“I just find that this is just the most important way to receive an award,” said Megan Tandy, founder of The Meagan Tandy Foundation and series regular on the CW television show Batwoman, during her acceptance speech for the Dr. Margaret Hill Community Leadership Award.

“I am a proud member of the Inland Empire. I grew up here,” she said.

Several elected officials, including Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, also attended the event.

The organizers and honorees all stressed the importance of service and the sacrifices that come with it.

“It’s a sacrifice required, sometimes working long hours, but at the end of the day, it’s all worthwhile,” said Frankie Lewis, recipient of the John Futch Humanitarian Award.

The award recipients expressed appreciation for the recognition they received for their work in their communities and the Inland Empire at-large.

“The fact that people are looking at you saying, ‘hey, listen, we think that there is value in what you’re saying, what you’re doing, and your perspective.’ There’s nothing like it. It’s incredible.” said Dr. Cherina Betters, recipient of the Excellence in Educational Leadership Award.

Inland Valley News Publisher Ta Lese Morrow said in her closing remarks, “To our honorees, thank you for answering the call to participate in the change. Your life’s work will leave a lasting imprint on the communities you serve for generations to come.”

The Celebration of Excellence would not be made possible without the support of our sponsors which include University of LaVerne, California Black Media, Law Offices of George Jones, San Bernardino Community College District, The Baptist Church of the New Covenant, Positive Results Center, Pete & Barbara McCormick Family Trust, Inland Valley News, Urban Excellence, Rialto Unified School District, Camden Venture Partners, City of Fontana, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, University of LaVerne’s College of Business Management, National Core, Corbin’s Closet, Queen’s Council, Transcendence Children & Family Services, Bracy Hawkins Law P.C., Jennifer & Barry Oglesby Foundation.

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