richard-t-smithPress release from The Community YMCA

High school students who are currently participating in programs at The Community YMCA or the Western Monmouth County YMCA are invited to enter an essay contest honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The contest, which has an entry deadline of Thursday, January 5, will present its winning entries at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast on Monday, January 16.

Hosted at Branches Catering in West Long Branch, the 28th annual event co-sponsored by the Shrewsbury-based CYMCA will include readings by the two winning essayists, each of whom will be awarded a $500 scholarship sponsored by Investors Bank and Monmouth County Chiefs of Police Association. Richard T. Smith (pictured), President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast, scheduled from 8 to 10 a.m.

“It is important for everyone to understand Dr. King’s legacy as a peacemaker and humanitarian,” said Rhonda Anderson, President and CEO of The Community YMCA. “Now more than ever, his message needs to be carried on to the next generation.”

Now serving his second term at the helm of the state NAACP, keynote speaker Smith also currently serves as one of seven commissioners on the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. A native of Trenton, he has contributed decades of service to regional and statewide NAACP organizations, as well as local boards of education and advisory positions in Cumberland County.

Anderson noted that the service project for the breakfast will support Project Homeless Connect of Monmouth County, a charity that works to provide various health and human services for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. Donations of new gloves, mittens, scarves and socks will be collected at the breakfast.

Seating for the breakfast is limited. Tickets are $30 per adult, $10 per youth (12 & under) or $250 per table of 10 and are available online here.

Applications for entry to the essay contest are available here. Submissions and questions may be sent by no later than January 5 to