Shrewsbury, NJ (Feb. 6, 2017) – Two Monmouth County high school students received a $500 scholarship for their winning essays at the 28th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Breakfast, hosted by The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County on Monday, Jan. 16.

Yaneice Dean, a junior at Red Bank Catholic High School, and Jessica Gonzalez, a junior at Asbury Park High School, presented their winning essays on injustice at the MLK breakfast, which took place at Branches Catering, 123 Monmouth Road, West Long Branch, NJ.

Sponsored by Hackensack Meridian Health, the breakfast celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. King and was attended by 220 area residents, students, community leaders and friends of the Y.

Richard T. Smith, President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, was the keynote speaker, and YMCA teen leaders Breasia Love and Kathlanda Nelson, both juniors at Asbury Park High School, served as emcees. Reverend Hosie Scott from the Foundational Truth Bible Study Ministries gave the invocation and Pastor Zaniel Young, of the Shrewsbury Avenue A.M.E Zion Church, Red Bank, gave the benediction.

Teens who participate in YMCA programs were invited to enter the essay contest, which was sponsored by Investors Bank and the Monmouth County Police Association. Students were asked to reflect on Dr. King’s words on injustice in a letter he wrote from the Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963 after being incarcerated for taking part in non-violent demonstrations.

“The YMCAs of Monmouth County are proud to bring our community together to celebrate the life of Dr. King and to engage our young people in his legacy of social responsibility,” said Rhonda Anderson, President and CEO of The Community YMCA.

The event also featured vocalists Genise and Amani Hughes of Neptune, and Rex Hill of Bloomfield, who led guests in the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and Rabbi Marc Aaron Kline, of the Monmouth Reform Temple, Tinton Falls, who encouraged guests to take the “Stand Up for Others Pledge.” The pledge is available at www.standupfortheother.org.

As part of the MLK community service project, new gloves, hats, mittens and scarves were collected to support Monmouth County’s Project Homeless Connect. Throughout all Y locations, 268 items were donated for distribution at the Project Community Cares event, Jan. 25 at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Red Bank. The event supported the homeless and other community members in need of assistance.

About The Community YMCA
The Y is a leading nonprofit charity that strengthens communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Community YMCA serves more than 20,000 residents in greater Monmouth County, NJ through programs such as: preschool, before and after school care, summer day camp, teen leadership, arts enrichment, health and wellness and personal and family counseling. In 2015-16, the Y provided more than $720,000 in reduced and free membership fees and programs to strengthen over 2,000 individuals. For more information, visit TheCommunityYMCA.org.

About The YMCA of Western Monmouth County
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We are a diverse association of men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life, joined by a shared commitment to nurture the potential of all people. For over 110 years, the YMCA of Western Monmouth County has the long standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. For more information, go to www.ymcanj.org.