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Local nonprofits highlight community heroes


Roughly 100 people came out to celebrate the Welfare Reform Liaison Project's unsung heroes who work tirelessly to build communities across the Triad.

The nonprofit organization held its annual Esther Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, November 15, at the Greensboro-High Point Marriott Hotel. The Welcome and Purpose were presented by Yvonne Johnson, WRLP Board Chair and a spoken word piece was performed by program participant Millie Turner.

“We wanted to recognize these people for the work that they do and let the rest of the community know what a great and wonderful job they're doing,” said Bernita Sims, Community Services Block Grant Director.

The honorees and awards given were as follows: Martha Yarborough, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award; Bob Newton accepted the Sonia Sotomayor Award on behalf of his wife, nonprofit leader Donna Newton; Melvin "Skip' Alston, Guilford County Commissioner, received the Thurgood Marshall Award; retired Greensboro attorney Walter Johnson was the recipient of the Hadassah Award; Jeff Horney received the Ella Fitzgerald Award; the Renaissance Award was given to Tina Akers Brown with the Greensboro Housing Authority; Bishop George W. Brooks, pastor emeritus at Mount Zion Baptist church and current WRLP board member received the Esther Award.

Alston said he was honored to receive an award named after one of America’s heroes and he reflected on Marshall’s words, when he once said he just wanted to be remembered as a man who did the best he could with what he had.

“That’s what leadership is all about. Doing the best that we can with what we have and giving something to the next generation to carry forward,” said Alston. “That’s what the Welfare Reform is all about. Doing the best that they can with what they have for our community and I’m proud of them for that. It’s about making a difference with one individual and one family at a time.”

Johnson credits his family, friends and the community for his success and thanked the organization for his award.

“My mother would say to us ‘unto much is given, much is expected.’ Therefore, we hope that we as a family have given back to this community the so many good times that this community has given to us,” he said.

Brooks said that he participates with WRLP because it aligns with his life philosophy of “wanting to die empty.”

“I want nothing that can help mankind to be in the grave with me,” he said.

The nonprofit, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, provides free workforce development training to low-income individuals in Guilford County in an effort to provide services that will enable participants to move toward self-sufficiency. Training consists of six weeks of core classes followed by six to 12 weeks of classroom and internship opportunities.

For more information on WRLP, visit or call (336) 691-5780.