Since 2001, the Genesee District Library has celebrated Black History Month by recognizing community leaders at the Annual Black History Month Brunch. This year, the selection committee chose to highlight three individuals and one place of worship for their contributions to the lives of their fellow citizens and Flint at large.
Award of Excellence Recipients
Dwayne “Wayne the Barber” Harrington
A master barber with 24 years of experience, Dwayne Harrington, Sr. is the owner of Park Place Hair Studio, LLC in Flint.
Harrington is a long-time philanthropist focusing his efforts on mentoring and inspiring youth, and providing free grooming to those in need. Along with his wife and business partner Tiana, he volunteers his time throughout Genesee County and Mid-Michigan.
He is the creator of “How the Clippers Saved My Life” – a 6-12 week mentoring program that teaches troubled youth how to become productive members of the community. Harrington partners with local organizations including Carriage Town Ministries to provide annual free grooming events. He and his team also hosted a pop-up hair studio at the Flint & Genesee Job & Resource Fair to provide job-seekers with free haircuts and styles.
Each fall, Harrington sponsors a large back-to-school rally that offers kids free haircuts, shampoo & styles, backpacks, food and school supplies.
As part of a plan to expand his business, Harrington is currently pursuing a Michigan Barber Instructor license.
After serving as the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint for six years, Oliver is currently president of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.
Oliver was previously vice-chair of the Council of Michigan Foundations Board of Trustees, chairman of the Michigan Community Foundation Committee, and on the Community Foundation’s Public Awareness Initiative Steering Committee. He served as president of the Flint Public Schools Board, treasurer of the Hurley Medical Center Board of Directors, served on the McLaren Home Care Board, the Flint & Genesee Group Board and on the Uptown Redevelopment Corporation Board.
Currently, Oliver serves as chair of the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, Central Michigan University. He is also a member of the CFLeads National Board of Directors, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy’s Leadership Council and on the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) Board of Directors.
Oliver resides in Northeast Florida with his wife Shay and four children: Zaiah, Carrington, Chelyn and Isaiah II.
Pastor Kevin Thompson, Sr.
Accepting his calling to the ministry in 1994, Pastor Thompson was licensed to preach the gospel in 1996 and ordained in 1998 by the late Bishop M.C. Akins.
During the Flint water crisis, Pastor Thompson set up a water center at St. Mark Baptist Church, providing water, baby formula, water filters and other resources. He also leads bi-weekly food distribution and after school tutorial services to children. He has worked on suicide prevention awareness, provided back-to-school supplies to kids, and hosted many community cookouts.
An accomplished musician, director and songwriter, Pastor Thompson has served as an accompanist for the Flint Institute of Music School of Performing Arts.
Pastor Thompson attended Mott Community College, The Flint Bible Institute, Apex School of Theology and Hosanna Bible College.
Partner in Progress Award
Bethel United Methodist Church
Led by Reverend Naylo Hopkins, Bethel United Methodist Church celebrated a 100-year anniversary in November of 2022. With a long history of providing assistance programs in Flint and the surrounding community.
Bethel United Methodist Church offers assistance to meet day-to-day needs, they offer weekly food and water distribution and host clothing drives. They also provide job opportunities, as well as education and training for adults and youth. They facilitate the Bethel Health Center three days a week, and offer after school tutoring and summer youth programs, such as the Freedom School and the Peckham Youth Program.
For the Thanksgiving holiday, Bethel UMC fed 300 families, and they host an annual Back-to-School Rally in September to give away free backpacks and school supplies. Other community services include a Fair Housing Seminar, an Expungement Fair and a Home Grant Program with Chemical Bank.
During the pandemic, the church served as a COVID-19 State Testing Center and distributed COVID-19 health kits to residents. In 2021, Bethel was honored with the Pandemic Trailblazer Leader Award and Key to the City.