ST. PETERSBURG – “To God be the glory,” said Rev. Watson L. Haynes II as he accepted before more than 1,000 people at the 2020 MLK Leadership Award at the National Council of Negro Women’s annual MLK Awards Breakfast at the Coliseum last Monday.
He sang the praises of and gave thanks to his family members, church members from Pleasant Grove, his Urban League “family” including board members and staff, along with fraternity Brothers from Omega Psi Phi, all of whom he called out for giving him the space, time, and human resources to do the work he’d been called to do.
In honoring Haynes, currently President & CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League, the local NCNW chapter had evaluated Haynes’ years of serving others, in the social service, health, education and political arenas, and leading and enabling many of them to live healed, productive, and achieving lives, guiding many of them to lead and serve their communities to a better place with their involvement.
Garnering that honor to begin the New Year came on the heels of 2019 year-end Blessings:
Haynes was honored as the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation’s Community Hero during a December 29 presentation at halftime of a Lightening hockey game in Tampa.
The award, featuring Haynes in a video presentation, comes with a $50,000 grant that Haynes described as a “Blessing” that will be used to strengthen Urban League programs and services.
Asked by The Foundation to describe, among other criteria, what has changed or is different in the Tampa Bay community because of Haynes’ good work, the nominators wrote that with knowledge and observance of Haynes over the past 20 years, much of his service and leadership has brought “justice and lasting change” in at least the following areas:
- Education of the underserved from Pre-K through college
- Making literacy for children and adults a priority
- Crime prevention and assistance to former offenders
- Specialized drug treatment programs and outreach
- Programs to assist people in public housing
- Programs in readiness for employment and job placement
- Bringing people together in the community and fostering racial harmony
- Mentoring young Black men and women to become leaders in the community
More specifically, Haynes is considered by many observers to be a “watchdog” for educational equity in Pinellas County. For more than 20 years he served in leadership positions for COQEBS, the Concerned Organization for Quality Education for Black Students Inc., a coalition of organizations and individuals organized to ensure the Pinellas County School Board fulfills its Federal Court order to provide equitable quality education to Black students. Haynes was instrumental in negotiating the order.
Haynes, his board and staff have established a budget for the $50,000 grant and plan to focus first on operationalizing a Health Mobile Unit and Develop Resources with $15,000 to:
- Partner with the Pinellas County Health Department to screen, test, educate and provide referrals to Pinellas County residents on diabetes, blood pressure cholesterol, healthy eating and exercise
- Utilize Community Health Mobile Unit to provide preventative healthcare services for minorities
- Fulfill the need for services for underprivileged patients by taking the Mobile Unit into their neighborhoods to provide routine health checkups with caring, culturally-sensitive health professionals
- The program will operate from February through August 2020