Our weekly roundup of Toasts & Roasts:
A toast to Sellestine Hunt and Municipal Court Judge April Earley, who were recognized during the Angelina County Citizens Chamber of Commerce banquet on Friday. Early received the Eagle Award, which honors individuals who have used their leadership to make sustainable, physical and social change in the community. It was given to Earley for her contributions to the current growth and improvement of the county and because of her focus on reaching key community organizations and finding new ways to enhance them. It is the chamber’s highest award. “This person represents the creativity and innovative strategies that have truly made a difference that will stand for time to come,” Freddie Avant said while introducing Earley. “I do more than just dispense punishment,” Earley said. “My goal is not just to punish people but to rehabilitate our community, to help rehabilitate our kids and give them hope for the future so they can be successful, as well.” Hunt received the Pinnacle Award, which honors individuals who volunteer time, knowledge and leadership and make worthy contributions to the betterment of the community. It was given to Hunt for not only her successes in education and tennis, but also for her dedication in helping the youth in the community achieve the same. “I cannot express to you how so very important it is for you to mentor young people and for you to teach them and show them what leadership skills are all about,” she said. “The world we’re living in today doesn’t recognize everybody as being smart or having abilities. But it doesn’t matter. You know what you can do. We need to lift each other up and we need to lift our kids up.” The chamber also gave almost $3,500 in scholarships to several students, including Milneshia Phipps, Aryn L. Ricks, Adam Holden, Olivia Escobedo, Tydaisha Powell, Colton Castilaw and Kori Ball.
A toast to the Salvation Army, which celebrated 78 years of “Doing the Most Good” in Lufkin during its annual luncheon. The Salvation Army provides a variety of services to the community, including a soup kitchen, homelessness prevention program, rental assistance, case management with the homeless population, assistance with utilities and clothing vouchers. Perhaps most importantly, the agency operates an adult day care center, which offers hope for the growing number of adults who require assistance to care for themselves. Caregivers can be confident that their family members are in a safe, comfortable and loving environment during the day. “We are about helping people we don’t know,” board member Bob Flournoy said. “Very few of us have the opportunity to meet or know the people who are in need. The Salvation Army is a beacon shining a light for those to come, and we believe that we are meeting that need as best we can.” To donate to the Salvation Army or learn how to help, contact them at 634-5132 or visit them at 412 S. Third St.
A toast to Angelina College’s Natasha Mack, who on Monday was named to the Division I 1st Team All-American list following the 2018-19 season. Mack was the preseason pick as the No. 1 prospect in women’s junior college basketball and the reigning NJCAA D1 Player of the Year. Earlier this year, she was named a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association 1st Team All-American for the second time in as many seasons. In her two years at AC, Mack earned National Player of the Week honors on four occasions; she also earned the conference’s Most Valuable Player award along with 1st Team All-Region and 1st Team All-Conference nods. She finished her junior college career as AC’s all-time career leader in scoring, finishing with 1,471 points. She led Region XIV in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage and blocked shots. Nationally, she finished first in the nation in blocks and second in scoring. Mack led the 2018-19 Lady ’Runners to a 29-4 record, a conference tournament championship win and the program’s first-ever appearance at the national tournament.
A toast to Dr. George Fidone and Chick-fil-a, who worked together to provide for three severely anemic and malnourished siblings. The trio was taken by air ambulance to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, according to Fidone. After the siblings’ immediate health needs were taken care of, Fidone wanted to do something to make them feel taken care of. He approached Chick-fil-A, which provided food free of charge to the siblings.
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