Photos by Richard Gaisie
On Saturday, December 5th, community members gathered to celebrate the efforts of the Blue Heart Foundation, a local non-profit organization established to focus on underserved youth ages 13-19 in the greater San Diego community, by offering mentorship, and personal and professional development workshops. In addition, they experience college campus tours and “road trips” supervised by qualified mentors. Saturday’s event was an opportunity for Founder and President, Tracy Morris, to recognize youth in the organization and community members who have contributed significantly to the lives of others. “The Christmas breakfast was inspiring and greatly humbling, knowing how many people in our community are reaching out to make a change,” shared Damontae Hill, Blue Heart Foundation member.
Through volunteerism, and various community service efforts, the participants of the Blue Heart Foundation gained much insight on what it means to give back to the community. Many had to get accustomed to rousing early in the morning, to volunteer, but soon grew to appreciate that doing for others is worth the slight inconvenience. “Each time I go to volunteer I get judged. The Blue Heart Foundation has helped me get my attitude right about school and life,” shared a student participant.
During the breakfast, audience members were entertained by Heart Beat Music Academy’s Thunder Squad and the Dancing Heartbeats. Following the performance, organization Director, Tyra Hawthorne, gave out awards to some of her students, who have shown exceptional growth academically and socially.
Other awardees recognized were JoAnn Fields, Dana Michelle Bryant, Anna Arancibia, Beverly Warren, Karla Witaker, Kristyl Smith and Shane Harris. When accepting her award, recipient Sade Burrell shared “I came through a lot of systems a child should never have gone through. Someone gave me an opportunity. I had an academic scholarship, and it was important to me. In high school I was in the special education program, but someone gave me an opportunity. Before you leave this room, don’t forget to give someone an opportunity,” she said. EJ Walls, another award recipient shared “I do what I do and I am what I am, because of everyone I’m staring at.” He shared that his father, Earl, passed in June. To help people differentiate between him and his father, he nicknamed himself EJ. “Since my father’s passing, I’ve assumed his name. I don’t call myself EJ anymore,” he shared. This was done in honor of his father’s memory as well as to reflect the level of responsibility he has taken on from a family and community standpoint.
“It was good to talk with and generally be around people without negative vibes. Good things happened that day and I enjoyed the event,” said attendee Isaiah Coleman, Blue Heart Foundation participant. He added “Helping others has shown me that there is a satisfaction from helping others. I’ve participated in a lot of volunteer events, I got up instinctively. I had a good time and left with a smile on my face. The opportunities is something that has become a stress release. Many thanks to all that have been involved in the foundation.”
The inspiring keynote address was given by Devin Hughes, speaker, coach and author, who is highly sought after, shared some tips on positive thinking and living life fully. “To whom much is given much is respected. If today was your last day, who would show up and what would they say. We have a choice on how our lives will play out,” he shared.
Those who supported the organization left with merry hearts and fully bellies, basking in the gratitude displayed that morning. The Blue Heart Foundation has proven that they are here to stay and have a lot more of their blue hearts to share. For more information on the organization, visit www.theblueheartfoundation.org