BY LOUIS C. WARD
EUSTIS – Ms. Nicie Parks and Mr. Robert Ragin were honored with an Award of Excellence from It Takes a Village Foundation for their “dedication, hard work, and leadership” at its Juneteenth Banquet held June 16, 2023 at the Eustis Community Center on Bay Street, Eustis, Florida
Ms. Parks and Mr. Ragin have ties to the Umatilla community, where It Takes a Village Foundation, a non-profit organization, is located. Both were raised in the Lake County City, and are still active in various Umatilla endeavors.
It Takes a Village wanted “to honor individuals who were born, or raised or worked with our amazing Umatilla Community family”, said Ms. Yvette Smith, President and founder of It Takes a Village Foundation, which commemorated fifteen individuals at the successful program that attracted 250 attendees.
“It Takes a Village wanted to give back to our community; we wanted to celebrate our community; we wanted to bring our community back together, which had been drawn apart;” emphasized Ms. Smith, who felt it was very impressive to finally give special recognition to our people who really deserved admiration and respect for whatever they did to improve the Umatilla community.
“I was very honored to be notified that I was nominated and selected to receive a reward for Business/Finance,” said Ms. Parks, whose motto is, “to always strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. It is especially rewarding and appreciated knowing that the honor came from those that I actually grew up with, my hometown.”
Mr. Ragin said I touched Yvette Smith’s life ever since she was young, and I appreciate It Takes a Foundation rewarding me with the Hometown Hero award, said Elder Robert Ragin, with family, loved ones, and friends present when he received his award at the Juneteenth Banquet.
“I thought it was great for them to remember me, because it was the first time in my life I was being rewarded by my community, and I felt great!” revealed Elder Ragin.
Mr. James Lowe, Executive Director of Lake Community Action Agency, where Elder Ragin serves on the Board of Directors, attended the Juneteenth Banquet. He said it was a grand affair, recognizing people who were there from Umatilla. People enjoyed the togetherness, and were very pleased with the event.