(BRENTWOOD, NY) – Suffolk County Legislator Sam Gonzalez hosted an event to celebrate Black History Month at the Brentwood Public Library. Eight current African-American community leaders from Brentwood, Bay Shore, and Central Islip and one deceased African-American community leader were honored for their local contributions.
“I am honored to celebrate the incredible contributions these outstanding African-American leaders have made to our community,” said Legislator Gonzalez. “This year’s distinguished group of honorees have dedicated themselves to promoting the wellbeing of this community and upholding the tenets of what true leadership are built upon.”
Brentwood Education Advocate, Gail Elaine Kirkham, was honored posthumously for her tireless commitment to Brentwood students. Mrs. Kirkham was a BUFSD School Board Trustee who dedicated decades of her life to uplifting the children and residents of her community. Mrs. Kirkham promoted programs and services such as universal prekindergarten to improve education outcomes.
“Gail had an amazing spirit that she shared with everyone she met,” said Legislator Gonzalez. “It was my pleasure to present Gail’s proclamation to her family members. She will be greatly missed.”
Living honorees were Lady Sylena Mangum, Reverend Steven Mangum, Betty F. Brown-Greene, Marvin Smith, Edward Groce, Raymond Mayo, Mary Reid and Helen Moss.
Sylena Mangum is the First Lady and Executive Pastor of The House of Judah in West Sayville, New York since its inception in 2001. Lady Sylena is a solution-focused therapist who possesses a strong biblical commitment and a passion to see those live up to their potential. At The House of Judah, Lady Sylena co-leads the marriage ministry, facilitates “The Women of Influence” women’s group, and hosts annual women’s conferences to encourage and equip women with the guidance needed for success.
Reverend Steven Mangum is the Founder and Senior Pastor of The House of Judah, a non-denominational, multi-ethnic church located in West Sayville, New York. In March of 2001, Reverend Mangum established The House of Judah, a distinctive church dedicated toward maturing and developing men, women, and children, spiritually, socially and economically while enhancing the community.
Betty F. Brown-Greene is an educational consultant, committed civil and women’s rights organizer, and determined advocate for HIV/AIDS and substance abuse education and awareness. Ms. Brown-Greene has contributed to the academic life of the Brentwood Public School District for 36 years. Mrs. Brown-Greene continually seeks ways to give back, open avenues to new possibilities, and empower those of all races and ethnicities with the opportunity to feel connected.
Marvin Smith is a community leader, activist, and educator who is committed to inspiring others by promoting enrichment opportunities to improve their lives and increase their chances for success. Mr. Smith’s work with local community and youth organizations has earned him numerous awards and citations from community organizations, local, state and national elected officials such United States President, George H. W. Bush.
Officer Edward Groce is a Suffolk County Police Officer who advocates for civil rights with the Islip branch of the NAACP, and expanding youth programs in Central Islip, Brentwood, Bay Shore, and Babylon. Office Groce is assigned to the SCPD Community Relations Unit, where he serves as Coordinator of the Suffolk County Police Athlete League (P.A.L.). Officer Groce is an approachable, trusted mentor to the children in P.A.L. and in the neighborhoods where they live.
Raymond Mayo has served with the Brentwood Legion Ambulance Corp (BLA) for more than 24 years in various capacities such as Board of Directors Member/Captain, Recording Secretary, Secretary/Assistant Chief, and Active Riding member (EMT/Driver) with many CPR saves. Mr. Mayo is the Co-Founder of Suffolk County Caribbean American Cultural Association (SCCACA), and Watch Captain with the Brentwood Association of Concerned Citizens (BACC)
Mary Reid is a community activist who currently participates or has previously participated in numerous organizations, including the Brentwood Booster Club, Brentwood School Board, Brentwood Public Library, Brentwood Public Library, and the Islip branch of the NAACP.
Mary’s dedication to service has earned her the Islip Bulletin’s Inspiration Award for 2019 and numerous other citations for her volunteer activities.
Helen R. Moss has been an active member in the civic life of Islip Town for over four decades. Ms. Moss’ activities include being involved with St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church, the St Anne’s Knights of Columbus, BUFSD Board of Education, Brentwood PTA, and the Islip branch of the NAACP where she serves as Treasurer.
“Our Black History Month celebration provides us with an opportunity to personally thank these amazing, unsung African-American heroes for setting an example, uplifting the community, and bringing us closer together in the process,” said Legislator Gonzalez.