POCATELLO — The 2016 Annual Freedom Fund and Award Banquet for the Pocatello Branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was held Oct. 15 in the Idaho State University Ballroom. A number of community members were recognized for their dedication to the Pocatello community.
Master of ceremony was Lt. Roger Schei of the Pocatello Police Department. The invocation was given by the Rev. Paul Vokwe. The welcome address was provided by Kenneth Monroe, president of the Pocatello branch NAACP, and an emotional and inspirational address was presented by Pastor Jacqualine Thomas, Praise Temple of God Church and first vice president of the Pocatello Branch NAACP, with guest speaker Brian T. Underwood, United States marshal.
Acknowledgments of Superstars of Law Enforcement include:
n Akilah Lacey — Pocatello Police Department
n Katie Flores — Bingham County Sheriff
n Joni Ramirez — Bingham County Sheriff
n Tyson Infanger — Blackfoot Police Department
n John Canfield — Power County Sheriff
n Troy Smith — Power County Sheriff
n Kelly Briggs — Frankin County Sheriff
Honored Superstars of Law Enforcement are:
n Maj. Jim Peterson — Pocatello Police Department
n Officer Shannon J. Bloxham — Pocatello Police Department
n Lt. Toni Vollmer — Bannock County Sheriff’s Office
n Lt. Doug Armstrong — Bannock County Sheriff’s Office
Special Service Award:
n Paul’s Trophies
The 2016 Freedom Fund Award Recipients are:
n Pastor Joshua Robinson — 2016 Community Educator Award. Pastor Robinson was recognized for his continuous efforts in the Back2School Backpack campaign. His wife, Jennifer, and their three children, Eliana, Maya and Grace, were in attendance. Robinson has degrees in biblical studies, organizational development and counseling. He has been a youth/associate pastor since 1998 and enjoys serving others in the Pocatello community.
n Kind Community — 2016 Social Justice Award. Kind Community’s mission is “to create, support and deliver initiatives that uplift, empower and inspire our community’s youth.”
Annually, Kind Community delivers community building outreach programs throughout the local Pocatello public, private and charter schools. Kind Community is a unified collective of individuals, organizations and partnerships that embrace a vision for the greater, kinder good for our community.
n Virga Arambarri — 2016 Rosa Parks Courage of Conscience Award. Arambarri retired from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and continues to rein the Knowing Who You Are curriculum, which emphasizes the importance of helping youth in foster care develop a positive racial and ethnic identity. She is also a mother, grandmother and social worker. She serves on the Pocatello City Human Relations Advisory Committee, 2Great4hate, Family Services Alliance Board of Directors and is a member of the Pocatello Branch of the NAACP.
n Pastor Jacqualine Theresa Thomas — 2016 Medgar Evers Medal of Honor Award. Pastor Thomas serves on the board of directors for Hope and Recovery Resource Center, is the Founder of Big Momma’s House — a supportive housing initiative to help the homelessness within the Pocatello community and provide hope to those who are homeless — and is also the founder of Praise Temple of God in Pocatello. Thomas is also the first vice president of the Pocatello Branch of the NAACP. Thomas gave a compelling and motivational address during the banquet regarding the youth who suffer from homelessness and cited recent statistics to those in attendance asking those within our community to rise up, come together and heal the world. Thomas is a well known motivational speaker on domestic violence and has been involved in ending the violence and abuse within communities since 2003.
n Guest speaker Brian T. Underwood was appointed by the president of the United States and a unanimous confirmation by the United States Senate on April 22, 2010. Underwood took his oath of office as the U.S. Marshal for the District of Idaho on May 20, 2010.
Prior to his appointment, Underwood’s career began in 1988 with the city of Pocatello as a police officer. In 1992, he joined the Idaho Department of Corrections as a probation/parole officer and later served as district manager of Southeast Idaho. From 2002 to 2010, he served as warden with the Idaho Department of Corrections. He also served for 10 years as an elected member of the Pocatello City Council, board member for the Pocatello/Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce and Bannock Development Corporation and was treasurer for the Bannock County Child Abuse Task Force.
The national NAACP issued the following statement, “We commend so much brave work being done to end the era of mass incarceration. From ban the box reform to sentencing reform, the NAACP is leading in state capitals and in the nation’s capital. Having done so much, we are inspired to do all that remains to be done. During our convention, thousands of you took an American Pledge to Preserve and Protect Our Lives. We thank you for all that you are doing to endure all candidates take this pledge. Predatory policing and racial profiling end the day we make that pledge real.”
President and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks, went on the state, “You may have gathered to break bread, share grace and fellowship of a meal on a special occasion, but a freedom fund banquet is more than a ceremonial occasion. It is a rededication ceremony. As great as our history is, the greatest history of the NAACP is yet to be written, and you are yet writing it. This occasion is a moment for us to celebrate and imagine … our own greatness.”