Honoring MLK’s legacy

Christian Hospital Foundation honors community leaders at their Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon

By Charlotte Beard

“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.”

That excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘The Drum Major Instinct’ sermon given in 1968 will be commemorated in the Christian Hospital Foundation’s honoring of six community leaders at their Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon. The event will take place Jan. 18 at the Paul F. Detrick Atrium on the grounds of Christian Hospital, 11133 Dunn Road, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Scholarships will be awarded as well to select students.

The first annual luncheon in 2018 sold out with 386 people in attendance; there was a waiting list. This year the mistress of ceremony will be evangelist Mary Tillman also known as ‘Your Radio Angel’ of 95.5 FM. The keynote speaker will be Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, President of both Repairers of the Breach and the North Carolina NAACP.

“He is taking up where MLK left off with the Poor People’s Campaign,” shared Rick L. Stevens, President of the Christian Hospital Foundation and Christian Hospital/Northwest HealthCare. “I think (there will be) a very inspiring speech by him, challenging us on how we can do more – how we can help the community more. We’re all about community. I think he will challenge us so much more on how we can all partner together. We are a community hospital and we have a responsibility for the community. But as we have a responsibility for the community, we partner with others in the community to help (it) thrive and to make (it) better.”

One of the greatest contributions of this celebration is the foundation’s ability to award scholarships for the second year at the luncheon to high school and junior college students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare. This year one student will be awarded from each of the following school districts: Ferguson-Florissant, Hazelwood, Jennings, Normandy and Riverview. In addition, a student from Trinity Catholic High School, Lutheran North and St. Louis Community College will be among the recipients. A portion of the proceeds from the luncheon will support these scholarships and the Medication & IV Antibiotic Fund for the indigent patients that Christian Hospital serves.

Stevens shared, “The nursing student (awarded) last year and this year will come work for us at Christian, as well.”

The scholarship selection process is left up to the discretion of the superintendent of each school district. Students are selected from among those interested in healthcare. Stevens stated that ideally the student is an influencer and well-deserving of the scholarship.

This year’s Drum Major for Service honorees are: James Buford, retired – President and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis; Maxine Clark and Bob Fox of Clark-Fox Family Foundation; Sonya Crider, Executive Director of Emerson Family YMCA; Esther Haywood, President Emeritus of Saint Louis County NAACP; Susan Stith, Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion and Corporate Giving of Express Scripts Holding Company; and Kelvin Westbrook, President and Chief Executive Officer of KRW Advisors, LLC.

The selection process for this honor is highly impacted by the ‘would be’ recipient’s level of influence in the community.

“Some people are known and then some people aren’t,” stated Stevens. He went on to explain that the selection process uses the life and mission of Martin Luther King as a blueprint for its honorees. 

“We stand on the shoulders of these individuals that we are honoring. As we give these scholarships to these students, they also get to see the people that made it possible, so they can get scholarships.”

The annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy that was once intended a small celebration in the hospital’s chapel with approximately 20 people in attendance, has become a celebration for the whole community.

 “The Christian Hospital Foundation is a big influencer in the community,” stated Stevens, “and we want to make sure we’re living the dream of Dr. King and that’s helping others and influencing people’s lives, especially in healthcare. Now we’re able to do it in another way with scholarships to high school students who have an interest in healthcare and can come back and work for Christian Hospital.”

To purchase tickets to next week’s celebratory luncheon, visit https://www.christianhospital.org/Giving/Foundation/MLK-Day-Celebration/Tickets-and-Sponsorship.

CUTLINE: Submitted photos 

Cover-MLK1 Attendees at 2018’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon.

Cover-MLK2 A choir performs at 2018’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon.