6th Annual Naomi Recognition Awards

Naomi Awards

BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Women have long been touted as the backbone to, well…everything! And on Saturday morning from nine o’clock to high noon, prestigious local women were honored at the 6th Annual Naomi Red Carpet Recognition Brunch packed with good food, inspirational talk and a myriad of gifts.

Women in their best dresses, shiniest shoes, and hair done just right, were treated to a day of appreciation for their selfless contributions. Whether someone’s mother, friend or even a teacher, these women, all over the age of 50, have spent countless hours of their lives in the service of others.

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Held at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort, located at 501 5th Ave. N.E., matriarchs in the community gathered to be honored by family and friends for their unwavering faith and a lifetime of sacrifices. Each year this event aims to spotlight and recognize extraordinary women who represent the legacy of the biblical character Naomi.

This year’s honorees consisted of over 40 local women all highly regarded for their ability to mentor and guide others while positively impacting the community through their willingness to make a difference in the lives of others.

Stepping out to receive accolades were such St. Petersburg icons as Sister Diane Hughes who spends her time spreading the gospel on WRXB AM 1590, Janice Starling who just recently was featured in The Weekly Challenger for her dedication to all those suffering from kidney disease, and former Mayor Rick Baker’s wife, Joyce Baker, who remains active in the St. Petersburg community.

Organized by the Naomi and Titus 2 Covenant Alliance that was established in 2009, the morning’s activities reinforced the mission of restoring aged women to the position of being teachers in the community. Naomi’s are encouraged to recommit to fulfilling God’s mandate and reestablishing a purpose for their lives.

2012 Naomi Honoree Ruth Johnson preached to those in attendance extolling the virtues of a spiritual life in which one gives back to those in need and makes themselves a servant to not only the Lord, but the people seen on the streets every day.

“We live in a society that has connected service with greatness,” she said claiming those who give of themselves may sometimes feel entitled and look for recognition from others. “It is my prayer today that we will look at greatness in service a different way and that we will leave here not the same way that we came.”

Humbleness was the attitude on display and Johnson urged the past, present, and future Naomi’s, as well as others in the community, to walk like a Christian and submit to the will of God, to become a vessel for good.

Johnson spoke of a mother’s love and her initial instinct to raise her children’s status above others, always wanting them high and lifted toward the light, toward recognition. She laughed as she encouraged the other women in the room to own up to doing the same, while reminding them that hubris isn’t always the best choice.

“We must become so small that our lives are not our own,” Johnson said revealing true service is a lifelong commitment that needs no recognition or applauds. “We must stop glancing at mankind and what he might think and we need to start gazing at Jesus Christ.”

Johnson urged those assembled to not ask where their reward is, but to say they serve neither for recompense, nor thanks, but out of gratitude for all that has been done for them in their own lives. To pay it forward – because everyone is in need of a little help from time to time.

“I think we’ve forgotten that we should never look down on a brother or a sister unless were picking them up,” said Johnson who feels if someone comes to you in need of something you shouldn’t bombard them with questions about their ordeal, but instead do as God told you to do.

“Our problem is we gotta know too much, we want to know what you want to pray about,” she said signifying that she doesn’t need to know all the details. “I just need to pray for you, because God already knows.”

After a buffet of eggs, bacon, cheese grits, fruit and pastries, in which honorees were served so they didn’t have to maneuver through the hungry crowd, Naomi Cynthia Chance of WINGS Fellowship Church was joined by Ruth Jaida Taylor-Herring of Word of Life Fellowship Church, both taking to the podium as mistresses of ceremonies.

The crowning of the Naomis followed as honorees received gifts of love. Certificates, flowers, a sash and tiara were presented to the women of the court and sealed with a kiss in an elaborate ritual of giving.

Ruth Catina Hicks was the 2014 Naomi and Titus 2 Covenant Alliance (NT2CA) Outreach Recipient of the Year and gave a special testimony where she emphasized that will and faith can only equal success. Special Recognitions, Faith Based Awards, and Chosen Charities Award Recipients were honored throughout the afternoon, with NT2CA President and Founder Naomi Teralyn Hodge giving the closing remarks.

The red carpet honorees finished the afternoon with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. A sure sign they will continue their efforts in the community to bring together families around the bay and beyond.

The Naomi and Titus 2 Covenant Alliance Ministries is a nonprofit organization involved in various activities including lending services to displaced women, mentorships for adults and youths, character development programs for teens, as well as after school support programs for the youth of St. Petersburg.

For more information on the organization and upcoming events, check out their website at ntcaministries.net.

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