May 15, 2015
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Five community leaders in Richmond were honored for their tireless public service Thursday night at the Black American Political Action Committee’s (BAPAC) eighth annual Judge George D. Carroll Community Service awards reception at Richmond Memorial Auditorium.

The award winners are Pastor Alvin Bernstine of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church; Kyra Worthy (pictured above), the executive director of nonprofit For Richmond; award-winning Chef Charles Evans; longtime schools advocate Florene Van Hook; and accomplished educator Gloria Scoggins.

They received the honor for demonstrating unselfish commitment to public service, according to BAPAC. The award was named in honor of former Richmond Mayor George Carroll, a respected public servant who in 1965 became the first black man appointed as judge to the Richmond Municipal Court.

Here’s more about the winners:

Pastor Alvin Bernstine: The fourth generation Baptist preacher has been senior pastor of the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church since 2006 and is also moderator of the Progressive Baptist Missionary Educational District Association. He made history by having a woman preach a pastor’s appreciation service at a Baptist Church in Richmond. He was a founder of the all-clergy group whose Ceasefire and Lifeline to Healing initiatives have been credited for helping to reduce crime in Richmond. The pastor acts as a communications bridge between police and community members following outbreaks of violence. He avidly volunteers, including by reading to children in a program at Verde Elementary.

Kyra Worthy: The executive director of For Richmond spearheads the nonprofit’s initiatives promoting job, health, safety and educational opportunities for Richmond residents. Under her leadership, For Richmond’s Job Barrier Removal Program has made great strides against high unemployment in Richmond by preparing numerous residents for construction trade careers and helping remove barriers to employment. Worthy also led a program linking underserved high school students to out-of-state collegiate summer programs for early college preparation experiences. She has also partnered with the local school district to award college scholarships to students, worked with police to install new security cameras on 23rd Street and helped with the fundraising and groundbreaking events for the West Contra Costa Family Justice Center.

Florene Van Hook: The Richmond High, Contra Costa College and UC Berkeley alum worked as a legal secretary and secretary for the West Contra Costa Unified School District, where she made certain parents of low achieving students received assistance to help them advance. For more than 35 years, she devoted time with other community organizations such as the School Advisory Committee, School Site Council, and the District Advisory Committee (DAC). She was elected to the National Coalition of Title 1 Parents, and has testified before the U.S. Congress and the Sacramento legislature. She is an active member of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, serving as its Youth Director and helping establish after-school tutorial programs. Some of her other church service activities include the Inspirational Choir, Scholarship Committee. As a Mission Sister, she visits and prepares meals for the sick, and she voluntarily visit and delivers gifts to the residents of the Vale Health Care Center in San Pablo.

Charles Evans: The award-winning chef and visionary behind CJ’S BBQ & Fish, with locations in Richmond, Vallejo and Fairfield. While known for his humble, sincere demeanor and warmth, Evans’ unshakeable work ethic allowed him to win nationwide cook-offs and have a catering business that serves prominent public servants and figures. But Evans’ own public service is of note, as he has received many awards for hiring local residents and donating to charities.  He is a member of Antioch Baptist Church and volunteers with Richmond’s Crime Prevention Task Force, Richmond Police Activities League and Richmond Main Street initiative. A grandfather, he is also an active community leader who sponsors youth baseball teams, 100 Black Men of America, church organizations, prison rehab programs and mentors juveniles.

Gloria Scoggins: The Richmond native has been active in education for 44 years and has been recognized for her commitment to social justice and public service to the underrepresented and disadvantaged families in West Contra Costa County. She has been active with the Blackboard of West Contra Costa, Emerging Young Leaders, ASCEND, Girls Inc. of WCCC, Richmond Pioneers, College Bound Girls, RCF (Richmond Community Foundation), Focus Group on Violence, Teacher Training and Mentoring and Church Ministries. Presently, she serves as the President of the Blackboard of West Contra Costa, an organization that works to eliminate the opportunity gaps of underserved students. She also serves on the RCF Board of Directors where she seeks to build the capacity of the Richmond community.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.