Sunshine Circle Club celebrates Kwanzaa

Service organization marks 61 years, recognizes honorees who embody principles
January 3, 2024

Members of the Sunshine Circle Club marked the organization’s 61st year during a celebration Dec. 30 that recognized community members who embody the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa occurs during the last week of the year and honors African American heritage. Each night, a candle is lit to observe the principles Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani.

The celebration of Kwanzaa is not a Christmas holiday, club member Hattie Bull said, and those who live by the principles each day will have a better world in which to live.

Club President Bernice Edwards awarded the Rev. Tony Neal the Umoja, the principle of unity. Neal needs no accolades or recognition, Edwards said.

“He is who he is,” she said. “When we talk about unity and coming together as a people and working together, we could not honor a better person.”

Neal is a man of God in the community who embodies the principle of unity, Edwards said.

“You help the less fortunate, you help those who don’t have a voice, don’t have a place,” she said. “You put God first.”

Club member Stephanie Collick recognized her uncle, Louis Riley, with Kujichagulia – the self-determination principle. Riley is a Lewes native who retired from the U.S. Navy, worked in alcohol prevention and in race relations for the federal government, and was instrumental in naming Johnnie Walker Beach, she said.

“If we have not learned anything since the pandemic, we have learned the importance of self-determination,” Collick said.

“Self-determination is not about you or me,” Collick said. “Rather, it is about us, our community, how we celebrate our culture and use our independent resources to determine our futures.”

Dr. Joyce Robert received Ujima, the collective work and responsibility principle. Robert was not present at the event, said club member Gilda Howard, who noted Robert is program director for Beebe Healthcare’s family medicine residency and works to train the next generation of high-quality physicians.

Milford native and businesswoman Karen Barner received Ujamaa for cooperative economics from Dr. Doris Person, who said Barner opened her beauty salon Elegant Styles 20 years ago. Barner is a motivator who supports other Black-owned businesses, and contributes to local causes and initiatives, Person said.

Barner is a child of God who gives more than she receives, Person said.

“Oftentimes, when you walk in the door, there’s gospel music playing, and sometimes that song is the song that you need,” Person said.

Club member Dana Paskins presented Dr. Marlene Saunders with Nia, the principle for purpose. Saunders has dedicated her entire career to advocacy and grassroots engagement for communities that have historically been, and continue to be, impacted by poverty, disenfranchisement and marginalization, Paskins said.

Saunders is a feted social worker who was recently appointed to the Delaware State University board of trustees, Paskins said.

“She thinks that ordinary members of the community are best positioned to identify solutions to solving their own problems if they have the capacity and resources to do so,” Paskins said.

Nancy Alexander received Kuumba for creativity. As the former Rehoboth Beach Historical Society director, Alexander has helped source photos and encourage participation in recording oral histories that had previously not been shared, said club member Waynne Harmon-Paskins.

“Yes, we have been talented, creative and hardworking, but where are the records to show this?” Harmon-Paskins asked. “It really does take the entire village, the entire town, the entire city, state and country, to leave our history for generations to come.”

Bull said she was honored to present her pastor, the Rev. George Edwards Sr. of Friendship Baptist Church, with Imani for faith. Edwards is always moving things forward while he seems quiet in his demeanor, Bull said.

“But please never take that as a sign of weakness,” Bull said. “He’s a long ways from that. He speaks his mind and he’s always there for whatever you need, whoever might need him.”


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