2018 IEA/Ben's Kid's awards honor achievers

IEA staff members

IEA-Inspire, Encourage, Achieve recently hosted its 2018 Awards & Recognition Dinner at the Beaumont Event Centre, celebrating 21 years of “Transforming Hardships Into Hope.” The annual event recognizes all IEA/"Ben's Kids" youth currently enrolled in the program, parent participation and volunteers (including IEA interns graduating from college). 

In partnership with community supporters and Jefferson County Juvenile Probation, IEA services are offered to youth whose lives have intersected with the juvenile justice system, as well as their siblings, and other youth who are at-risk for delinquency.

Nearly 30 students were recognized for character qualities such as determination, initiative, patience and honor; participation in community service and job training programs; as well as other achievements (including Honor Roll, perfect attendance and leadership) that mark paths toward bright futures. A parent was honored for “Outstanding Parent Participation,” and three youths graduating from high school and interns graduating from college were also recognized.

IEA Executive Director Angeliqueca Avery welcomed guests with a performance by IEA youth. A diverse group of supporters was acknowledged, including Jefferson County Juvenile Probation, the Beaumont Police Department’s Cops & Kids Program, Marcelo Molfino of the Jefferson County DA’s Office, IEA Founder Regina Rogers and IEA staff members for their daily heroic work with youth.

Rogers said, “We are indeed blessed to have the support of many Southeast Texans, including individuals, businesses, churches and foundations that care so much about the futures of our children, many of whom have experienced trauma and other challenging circumstances during their young lives.”

Featured as guest speaker was a former IEA participant who successfully completed juvenile probation many years ago and is now employed as a fifth grade teacher. Avery said, “I admire her diligence and commitment to IEA, for overcoming difficult situations in her life, and for representing that potential for hope we see in every student in our program.”

Beaumont Police Chief James Singletary, along with officers Nick Thompson, Cesar Beattie and Sgt. Cody Guedry, presented special awards and certificates to youth who participated in the Cops & Kids Fitness Program. 

Singletary said, “We’re so proud and pleased to help support IEA and these children who have made great strides and developed good relationships with our officers.”

Rogers affirmed the unique role of the Beaumont Police Department. 

“We have built many relationships over the past 20 years, but one of our most meaningful has been with Chief Singletary and his BPD officers who are willing to spend time encouraging and motivating our children to succeed.”

Officer “Mo” Molfino of the DA’s office echoed Chief Singletary’s remarks and expressed the urgency of getting involved with youth in changing times and improving efforts at communication.

As a preface to the awards ceremony, IEA staff member Donna Taylor explained this year’s Global Youth Service project, “Combatting Violence Through Tolerance & Kindness,” an annual service-learning experience that provides youth with the opportunity to identify a social issue and address it.

Taylor also presented the Dr. Preston Shaw “IEA Volunteer of the Year Award” to Mary Young, “a woman whose life is a true inspiration and who has served as a volunteer, mentor and supporter of IEA over many years.” 

Young graciously responded, “IEA has been such a blessing to me. It is especially meaningful to receive this award since Dr. Preston Shaw was one of my mentors at Lincoln High School many years ago.”

Ashley LaFleur was recognized as “Mentor of the Year,” and Avery presented the Judge Tom Mulvaney “Caring Spirit Award” to retired IEA staff member Beth Morrison, who has provided unwavering program support for more than 20 years as IEA’s office manager. 

Morrison replied, “It’s been a privilege working for IEA. I love this program, the children and this special team, and will certainly miss working with all of you.”

Dinner for the event was catered by Bettina Evans of Bettie Jean’s Homestyle Cooking, along with IEA youth in the Hospitality & Catering job-training program.

IEA was founded by Regina Rogers and the late Julie Rogers to honor the memory of Ben Rogers and his legacy of helping young people achieve dignity and respect through knowledge, compassion, understanding and love. During the past 10 years, 90-95 percent of the youth referred to IEA have successfully completed their period of juvenile probation without committing another offense during their participation in the program.

Call (409) 839-8778 for information.