ST. PETERSBURG — The large activity room at Lake Vista Recreation Center was quickly turned into a place of elegance. What a beautiful place to enjoy an afternoon of tea with servings of cookies and small cakes.
Tables displayed real linen tablecloths with fine china, glasses, crystal and the kind of silverware we saw only at grandma’s house when we were children. All tables were decorated in blue and white.
President Lisa Wilson greeted and welcomed the guests. Jackie Ward Williams read the scripture and grace, followed by Nicole Crawford with the occasion. Dr. Cynthia White then introduced the tea presenter, Sharion Thurman Reeves, who gave a short course on the history of the tea as it’s related to African Americans.
“During the slavery period, those who were chosen to work inside the house were taught how to set and serve a table for meals and teas,” explained Thurman-Reeves.
She brought replicas of teapots and china used by her grandmother, explained how to use each item and then recited humorous anecdotes from days of slavery and her own childhood.
Slaves used the teas to socialize and exchange information as they traveled from place to place with their owners or went to visit neighbors nearby. True to her personality, Thurman-Reeves’ presentation was informative and very humorous.
Music was provided by Marion Moody, Jr., a local singer and native of St. Petersburg. The lyrics belted out by Moody reminded each of us that we do not need to worry when we are spiritually anchored. His rendition of “Anchored in the Lord” left few dry eyes.
Following Moody’s solo, awards were presented to eight phenomenal community women and one Zeta who was selected as Zeta of the Year. Each of these women is doing something different in the community, but all are pouring themselves into what they do in a way that no one else can.
Dr. LaDonna Butler, a licensed practitioner of the healing arts, is the executive director of The Well of Life, a wellness center in St. Petersburg. After completing her work at the center each day, she continues with special community projects and time with family. She is the wife of Minister Ulas D. Butler and the mother of five wonderful children. Both her undergraduate and master’s degrees were received from Springfield College. Her doctorate was awarded by Argosy University.
Yvonne Reed Clayton is the fourth of six children born to Berton Sr. and Mary Clemons. She graduated from Gibbs High School and received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in reading from Florida A&M.
Clayton taught pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, second, third and seventh grades in Pinellas County Schools, and was an adjunct professor at Nova University for five years. After 34 years in Pinellas County Schools, she retired. A short time later, she started the Yvonne Reed Christian School, a very successful venture.
Dr. Carleah East is a clinical psychotherapist, a licensed mental health counselor, psychology professor and author of “The Hangover.” She established the Sapphire Women Organization, which promotes the strength of women by conducting workshops, presenting seminars and coaching. Dr. East has a private practice called S.M.I.L.E., an acronym that means Solving and Managing Issues with Love and Enrichment.
Dorothy Herring Lee, now retired after 34 years as an officer in the Department of Corrections, plans her days so that she has time to go places and do things with people who are not in trouble with the law but just want quality time to talk. Once or twice each month, she develops and executes a plan for an activity to uplift children.
In the community, she participates in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life activities, serving as chairperson for Lee’s Legacy, a family and friends team that was formed in honor of her late husband. The entire family participates; while the adults and teenagers walk, those under 10 serve lemonade.
Other team participation includes the Experience League. At her church, she is a member of both the Hospitality and Home-going Ministries.
Chelle Middleton is an employee of Home Depot. Her job is her mission. She oversees the grant program at her store and renders assistance to individuals and families when it is needed. She also helps organizations in need of repairs, upgrades and beautification. Many communities in this geographical area have benefited from her efforts.
Alva N. Osburne moved to St. Petersburg after graduating from Alabama State University in Montgomery, Ala. Her first job assignment was Sixteenth Street Junior High School as a teacher of English, reading and mathematics. John Hopkins, the man after whom the school was renamed, was the principal.
She also worked at Dunedin and St. Petersburg High, the evening high school English program at Lakewood, Basic Education, GED and summer school. In addition to all of her work within the schools, she is active in church and community programs.
Presently, she serves as the administrative assistant to the director of Men in the Making community program for boys. A member of the historic Bethel A. M. E. Church, she is a certified Christian education director/counselor and serves as an administrative assistant to the pastor.
Janice Starling Williams is a St. Petersburg native and the daughter of Michael and Viola Starling. A graduate of Dixie Hollins High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Nova University and her master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.
Her life’s goal is to bring about awareness, education and advocacy regarding End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). As often as she can, she and other kidney health advocates set up seminars, workshops and information sessions to get the information into the hands of as many people as they can.
Her own experiences have taught her how to help others. A dialysis patient for 13 years, she was blessed to receive a new kidney three and a half years ago. She has also helped to operate the family day care center for the past four years. Her personal scripture is Romans 6:28.
Nicole Wilson was born in Bradenton and graduated from Southeast High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Florida A&M and a master’s degree from Argosy University. She is married to Harold Wilson and the proud mother of two lovely daughters.
Wilson has worked a number of years in the school system and in a number of positions from teacher to principle. She’s currently the principal of Thurgood Marshall Fundamental School.
After the presentation of awards, Dr. Juanita Wilson was presented with the Zeta of the Year award, a recognition given to a member of the chapter whose work within the calendar year has been outstanding.
Dr. Wilson is a practicing pharmacist who graduated from Florida A&M University with a doctorate degree. Her calm demeanor allows her to gain the trust and cooperation of others so she is able to present an idea that others will help her develop and implement.
She is a motivator who can get others moving. Currently, she is the sorority’s second vice president but has held the office of treasurer, worked with the Zeta Youth, Zeta Amicae (the adult Zeta Auxiliary), the March of Dimes and the American Heart Association. All the while, she works, take care of her family and participate in church activities.
The Zeta of the Year award was presented by Dr. Alicia Isaac. Congratulations Dr. Wilson!
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated has been providing service to St. Petersburg since 1955, 63 years ago. The local chapter realizes that scholarship, service, sisterhood and finer womanhood are still the principles of the organization and the reasons they continue to serve the community.
The chapter president is Lisa Wilson. Event chair was Eloise Thompson, with Penny Bailey, Emma Cavin, Nicole Crawford, Michelle Stewart and Dr. Cynthia White serving as committee members.
Individuals in attendance registered with a small donation to the scholarship fund.