Iyanna Fairfax, left, and Shinelle Gilbert are proud recipients of the MLK essay contest.

Shrewsbury, NJ (January 19, 2015) – This morning, The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County hosted the 26th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast featuring guest speaker Pastor Terrence K. Porter of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Red Bank. The event took place at Branches Catering, 123 Monmouth Road, West Long Branch, NJ.

The annual breakfast celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King and his impact on today’s youth was attended by nearly 300 area residents, students, community leaders and friends of the Y.

As part of the MLK community service project, new gloves, hats, mittens and scarves were collected to support Monmouth County’s Project Homeless Connect project. Donations will continue to be collected at all Y locations until Friday, January 23.

Pastor Porter stepped in to replace Reverend Jacquelyn Rowe of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, who was scheduled to deliver the keynote address, but was unable to attend due to an illness.

The Community YMCA President & CEO Rhonda Anderson thanks Pastor Porter for sharing his remarks at the MLK breakfast.

The annual event included a student essay contest. Students were asked to submit an essay reflecting on their interpretations of the teachings of Dr. King.

Shinelle N. Gilbert, of Neptune High School and Iyanna Fairfax of Freehold Borough High School were the essay winners. Each read their winning essays on how they can demonstrate social responsibility to improve the welfare of others and serve their community. They each were the recipient of a $500 scholarship.

Iyanna Fairfax also gave the invocation. Other students who participated were Kason Jackson, of the State University of New Jersey, who gave the benediction. Biotech High School student Anekha Goyal and Belmar Academy Charter School student Tia Hicks-Hunter served as emcees.

Vocalist Genise Hughes led guests in the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and was joined by her daughter Amani, 15, for another song.


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 through programs such as: preschool, before and after school care, health and wellness, leadership, arts enrichment, personal and family counseling and summer day camp. With a mission to serve all, more than $660,000 in reduced and free membership fees and programs is provided by the YCares financial assistance program to individuals and families in need. For more information, visit

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