It’s good news: Community leaders will be honored at National Council of Negro Women’s Harambee Luncheon –

Attending the annual Harambee and annual luncheon of the National Council of Negro Women, North Shore — Staten Island Section, several years ago are, from left, Andrea Andrews, Shawn J. Stradford Sr., Tracy Brown, Michelle Akyempong, and Kelly Etheridge.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The borough’s National Council of Negro Women Inc. will celebrate its 16th annual Harambee Luncheon Saturday, April 23 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Historic Old Bermuda Inn, Rossville. And all are invited to attend.
Since the event is one of the organization’s first in-person luncheons since the pandemic and a major fundraiser, organizers are hoping for a huge turnout.
Guests are promised an afternoon of entertainment, dancing, presentations, music hosted by DJ Tyson, an awards ceremony and several guest speakers.
Each year, the event that takes its name from a Swahili word meaning “Let us pull together for the good of the community,” is hosted to honor dedicated community leaders.
The non-profit organization, whose mission is to “advance the opportunities and the quality of life for African-American women, their families and their communities,” recognizes phenomenal women, men and young adults who have distinguished themselves and given of themselves unselfishly through their devotion and commitment.
The Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Community Service Award will be presented to the Uncle Chase Foundation, The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and the Afro-American Historical Genealogical Society: Richard B. Dickenson Staten Island.
Gardner founded the Uncle Chase Foundation to provide underprivileged youth with resources for success. Known as ‘’Uncle Chase,” Gardner’s desire to help children stems from his own experience as a young man. The Staten Island native ran into trouble with the law and ultimately served three years in a federal prison. After that experience, he vowed to turn his life around. He attended trade school while working to become a certified electrician and found steady employment with Comcast, where he’s been a supply chain regional supervisor for the past 16 years.
Charles "Uncle Chase" Gardner. (Courtesy/Celestine Cox) Staten Island Advance
The foundation is dedicated to arming vulnerable youth and historically underserved communities with vital resources necessary for shaping a positive future.
It hosts multiple programs to get kids involved like “Love Day” dedicated to kicking off a successful school year through the distribution of over 200 school supplies, basketball tournaments, bounce houses, and more. UCF also hosts a Winter Wonderland event where over 4,000 toys and over $40,000 worth of non-perishable goods is donated to needy families during the holiday season. It also collaborates with local and international non-profits to make a greater impact on today’s youth.
Members of the Black Union Coalition. (Corutesy/Celestine Cox)Staten Island Advance
The New York Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
The organization is an affiliate chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists International with members from international and local unions and it stands on the principles of founding fathers both living and deceased to build power in unions and communities and achieve economic political and social justice for all.
Members work within the framework of the trade union movement to provide an independent progressive voice and a vehicle developing Black and Brown leadership.
They challenge systematic forms of racism within the labor movement by speaking truth to power and promote access and open doors for Black and Brown workers within the labor movement and safe working conditions and equal pay for workers.
And it is committed to effectively increasing political alliances between labor churches and community groups.
Staten Island Advance
The Richard B. Dickenson Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society
(AAHGS) is the Staten Island Chapter of the national organization which has more than a 40-year history of promoting research, discovery and writing about African American genealogy and history. The SIAAHGS is one of two New York chapters and a 501 C (3) membership organization open to the public. Regular meetings are held monthly at the Staten Island Museum.
William Morris III (Courtesy/Celestine Cox)Staten Island Advance
In 1966 along with his late brother Robert, William Morris III joined Boy Scout troop 47, a thrilling experience because their dad, William Morris Jr., was troop leader.
William also played softball as a teenager with his brother, where their dad coached and was founder of the Morris Softball League.
A member of Faith United Methodist Church, from 2000 to 2016 he was a member, with his siblings Dolores and Joan Morris, of Faith Music Ministry, where the trio sang traditional and original songs throughout the tri-state area and produced a popular CD titled, “Children of Faith.”
He also was a Sunday school teacher at Faith Church from 1999 to 2008, a member of the board of trustees and is currently vice president. In 2018 he joined his father in the Faith Food pantry started by his parents, William and Norcie Morris nearly 45 years ago.
He retired in 2012 after serving 30 years as a court officer in the NYS Supreme Court. During his career, he received numerous awards and accolades for bravery.
Dolores is a sixth generation Staten Islander who graduated from Hunter College cum laude, with a degree in physical anthropology.
Dolores Morris (Courtesy/Celestine Cox)Staten Island Advance
Her career spanned over 40 years in children’s television programming, having served as executive and producer at Children’s Television Workshop, ABC Television, the Walt Disney Company and HBO. Her work on ABC’s prestigious After School specials garnered 25 Emmy awards for the network and a Peabody Award. Her work at HBO as vice president of the HBO Family Channel provided her with five Emmys, three Peabodys and an Oscar mention for producing the film “The Children’s March.”
She mentors youth and councils students on the future of TV and media and is a motivational speaker for youth and women, especially audiences of color and she’s a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church. Other awards include the Arthur D. Phillips Community leader award, The National Council of Negro Women Outstanding Achievement Award, the College of Staten Island President’s Medal, The Staten Island branch NAACP Humanitarian award, and she is a Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement. She wrote “The Soldier That Wagged her Tail,” a book about her dad, William a Morris Jr. who served in World War II, and his dog Trixie who served with him and saved his life.
She lives her life believing in the adage she inherited from her father and grandfather, “If you want something done and done well.. ask a busy person.”
The Young Person Who Rocks Award: NCNW-SI Public Speaking and Mentoring Youth Leadership Cohort 1.
Members of the NCNW-SI Public Speaking and Mentoring Leadership Cohort 1. (Courtesy/Celestine Cox) Staten Island Advance
Last fall Port Richmond High School and the Staten Island Section of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. embarked on an collaborative partnership to Adopt a School and develop a community-based program to serve students grades 9 through 12.
Through combined efforts the administrative team at PRHS and members of the section’s Education Committee developed curriculum that became the section’s signature program, the Youth Leadership Public Speaking and Mentoring Program (YLP).
Participants are paired one-on-one with a mentor and practice public speaking, learn how to build communities, develop their own speaker series for Black History Month, create the Raiders Who Code Club, lead the Pre-Med Club, and head up the Black Student Caucus — all with funding from Con Edison.
The NCNW-SI Member of Recognition Award: Breone N. Davis
Breone Davis (Courtesy/Celestine Cox) Staten Island Advance
Davis was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga., where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in business management with a concentration in finance. She has a passion for connecting with youth and serves as third vice president of the National Council of Negro Women Staten Island Section. She’s the proud owner of Legacy 35 Mobile Notary. She enjoys writing, traveling, and dancing and lives by two guiding principles: “Faith is taking the first step without ever seeing the staircase,” and “Dreams do come true.”
NCNW-SI Youth Council Member Recognition Award: Azariyah DeMoss
Azariyah DeMoss (Courtesy/Celestine Cox) Staten Island Advance
Azariyah is an eighth-grade student at Markham Intermediate School, where she’s on the track team. She’s a dancer at Faith United Methodist Church and an active member of the National Council of Negro Women Staten Island Section–Youth Council. She finds joy in dancing and hanging out with her siblings. She has won awards for dancing, playing basketball and for her participation at the St. George Theatre Outreach Program.
She is the oldest daughter of Ebony Reid. Her short term goal is to be accepted into Brooklyn Tech High School or Staten Island Tech High School in the fall of 2022. Her long-term goal is to pursue a degree in law and become a lawyer.
NCNW-SI High School Achievers Award will be announced during the luncheon.
Tickets are $100 and journal ads start at $10.
For questions about the event, contact Paulette Crosland at or Jasi Robinson at To submit a journal ad, contact Jennifer Watkins at
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