By Dianne Anderson
Back by popular demand, the Long Beach Section of the NCNW is gearing up for its 35th Annual Spring Luncheon celebration to honor local “Men of Service” where the men – at least for the day — rule the runway.
On Saturday, April 27, the men will flaunt their fashion sense, suited up and casual, at the The Grand, Long Beach, located at 4101 E. Willow St. The event will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $80.
This year, Long Beach’s very own, Yvette, “the funny lady” of comedy is the Mistress of Ceremonies.
“It’s all in good taste, but we’re going to have fun. Come to enjoy yourself in a tasteful pleasant manner,” said Zina Bourda-Foe, now serving the first year of her third term as president of the Long Beach Section of the NCNW.
Usually, she said the young ladies are the hostesses, escorting guests to their seats, but this year, it’s all about the men. Some of their young blood comes compliments of the youth of the 100 Black Men of Long Beach, who are channeling their own selection for the all-male show.
Among their men of honor: Shannon Angeletti, Construction Supervisor; Dr. Michael C. Brown, Chaplain; Reginald Harrison, Director of the Long Beach EOOC; John Malveaux, President, Central Area Association/Music Untold; Roberto Uranga, Councilmember 7th District and Jesse Johnson, Founder and President Emeritus 100 Black Men of Long Beach.
Since established in 1966, the organization has supported many programs in the community, including NCNW Education Scholarship; Precious Lamb Pre-School; Elizabeth Hudson Elementary School; NAACP ACT-SO; Vista Del Mar Assisted Living; Long Beach Rescue Mission; Annual Clothing Give-Away and our Annual Christmas Food & Toy Drive, Black Infant Health, to name a few.
Bourda-Foe said the main goal is always to keep to the mission of Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of the nonprofit in 1935. She was an educator, and an education consultant to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Bethune’s philosophy was that women represented the strength of family, and that access to the right tools through education would have a lasting, generational impact.
“Her goal was each one teach one. If we start with these little girls, raise them properly, they’re going to be the mothers of these men, and of the father’s that’s going to lead the way,” Bourda-Foe said.
The NCNW, an international organization, has offices in Ghana and Kenya, and are looking to establish a chapter in Australia.
Locally, the collaborate with several groups, focused on getting training and information out to the community to empower African American women, although she said they accept all races into the organization.
They also accept men, called associate members, into the fold. They too have all the rights of the women membership, and able to participate in all organization activities – except they do not have the right to vote.
Over the years, the organization has been active with Vista Del Mar Senior Living, where they regularly visit, and engage seniors with games and company. In education, they have adopted Elizabeth Hudson elementary school, the special education department. Each year for the past decade, they have given away backpacks filled with school supplies at the start of the school year.
They became involved in the transition to Hudson from their original outreach at the Bethune school for children in transition in Long Beach, catering to mostly homeless children. Later, Cabrillo programming had set up housing for the students, who were nomadic with their parents.
At best, she said they were living from motel to motel, or on the streets. “We started going into the school with a hot meal, then we started bringing washing powder laundry detergents because when the kids came to school, they were dirty traveling with their parents from wherever,” she said.
In adopting the school, they, with other organizations, worked to make sure the kids had some of their day to day needs met, but because the kids were so destabilized, they were getting left far behind in education.
“We had some kids that were 8 or 9 years old, and still on a kindergarten level,” she said. “When we began to see how they [the school district] were transitioning our children, we began to follow the students, that’s how we got involved with Hudson.”
Over the years, the organization has been active in providing small scholarships. Coming up, she said they will also look to draw more involvement with education funding projects, such as access to Calgrant and speakers to show the kids and parents how to tap $12,000 a year free money to attend the Cal State or UC system.
Jesse Johnson, an associate member, often works hand in hand to collaborate on projects. Last year, his nonprofit, the 100 Black Men of Long Beach, celebrated its tenth year, which he attributes success to the initial helping hand of the local NCNW.
“When reaching out, one of the requirements to become a chartered member of “The 100” is that you have to have a relationship with other organizations. If you don’t have that you never become a charter member,” he said.
Thanks to members of the NCNW, including the late Othetta Glover, he was able to get the charter established.
“We did it in less than 12 months, which is not normal, thanks to our partner NCNW. Some take five to ten years,” said Johnson, who is also vice president of the Long Beach chapter NAACP.
Johnson said that he’s honored to be recognized by the program that has given so much to help to the community over the decades, including the 100 BMLB.
“I was so thankful of them when I formed the 100 Black Men of Long Beach, they were one of our first partners,” he said. “Since day one whenever I need assistance with a project that I’m working on, they’ve been there.”
This article originally appeared in the Precinct Reporter Group News.