“We can’t rest now … the stakes are too high” was the theme of the 29th annual Freedom Fund Banquet hosted by the West Volusia Branch of the NAACP.

With more than 500 people present, to accommodate the high interest, the banquet was once again held at The Center at Deltona.

The program began with a welcome from Maritza Avila-Vazquez, 2019 banquet chairwoman and a member of the Deltona City Commission.

Barb Girtman, District 1 representative on the Volusia County Council, also was part of the program. Both women are known for their unwavering passion for community connections and community-building.

Featured speaker Hubert L. Grimes, a retired circuit-court judge and former interim president of Bethune-Cookman University, engaged the audience with words of hope and action.

“We must say: We are not going to stand by,” Grimes said.

Many prestigious awards were presented, including The Legacy Award presented to David Staples, former president of the branch.

Staples’ legacy will live on, as he was honored for his countless achievements and dedication to this community. In his honor, the David H. Staples NAACP Scholarship Award was developed.

These scholarships were presented to the next generation of leaders who are moving on to meet their goals of higher education. Scholarship recipients were Jermirria Williams of DeLand High School, Marcus Quarterman Jr. of Pine Ridge High School, and Timothy Thomas of Pine Ridge High School.

Not only will our history be preserved by recognizing the trailblazers who have brought us this far, we feel proud in knowing that the foundation has been laid for our future trailblazers.

The NAACP appreciates your support. For more information or to become a member, visit www.westvolusianaacp.org.

— Cameron, a longtime educator, lives in Orange City. Send email to cameronchronicleslive@gmail.com.