National Parents’ Day Celebrations
In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into Public Law 103-362, making the fourth Sunday in July a national holiday called Parents’ Day. Like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, this national holiday brings families together and honors responsible parenthood for instilling love in the family and community.
West Orange, NJ
West Orange was the host city for Universal Peace Federation’s (UPF) annual Parents’ Day celebration. The West Orange event was the first of many events to be held throughout the state during July and August.
More than sixty participants joined the memorable night. Many parents brought their children to attend.
Among the nominees were University Department Chair, City Commissioner, businessmen and community leaders among others. In addition to the mayor, Robert D. Parisi, who presented all the nominees with their awards, two deputy mayors were also in attendance. Mayor Parisi addressed the audience and spoke eloquently about the need for strong family values and the necessity for the community to join hands together because a good family is the key component for a good community.
Dr. Jeffery Lipitz spoke on behalf of all the awardees. He was very grateful for the work UPF is doing by promoting and encouraging parents to be a good role models in the community and around the country. He was grateful to his wife for helping him raise wonderful children. He was also grateful to the city and the mayor for opening their door and welcoming all the parents who came to the event. He pledged to join hands with all the awardees to continue to promote this vision which is critical for the betterment of the community.
Dr. Robert Beebe spoke about the crucial role of parents in raising good children because family is essentially the school of love. He stressed the importance of understanding the Four Realms of Love. Rev. Ralph Oppenheimer shared a PowerPoint presentation on the historical background of Parents Day.
Dr. Zal Velez, in his congratulatory remarks, gave a powerful testimony about True Parents as the champions of peace. He reminded the audience that it is because of them that this moment is being celebrated. He went even further to testify their efforts in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. He also stressed that it is because of God ‘s love and True Parents’ faith and commitment to serve humankind that everyone can gather for this event.
Dr. Josie Velez, Chairwoman for the City Commission on Public Relations, concluded the speeches with a Call to Action. She called on everyone to get involved in their communities and to join the effort to build a better community as parents.
Contributed by R. McCready, Universal Peace Federation (UPF) WA.
On July 28, about 90 guests gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Parents’ Day. The Seattle Family Church gathered at the historic Denny mansion, “Lochkelden” in the Windermere area of Northeast Seattle.
The program included songs, reading of a proclamation from the local state legislative district representative, the history of Parents’ Day, and a presentation by Mrs. Harriet Williams, an Ambassador for Peace. The talk by Mrs. Williams was clear, personal and filled with pithy nuggets of wisdom garnered from years of raising her family,. Mrs. Williams pointed out that she did not always do the right thing but with the help of God’s Holy Spirit and a willing heart, she learned from her mistakes, and then shared what she had learned with other mothers and families.
Among her accomplishments, Mrs. Williams developed the first “Parent Training Model” for the National Urban League and established the “Inclusive Diversity Parent Involvement Model” for use in the Tacoma Public Schools. She also worked as Family Involvement Coordinator in the Tacoma Public Schools and more recently as a counselor for parents of youth in juvenile detention in Tacoma, WA. Mrs. Williams was appointed as an Ambassador for Peace by True Parents at the Belle Harbor Conference Center on September 27, 2005, during their second national tour to educate America about the purpose of Universal Peace Federation’s (UPF) work for peace in the family, the nation and the world. These facts prompted the UPF WA staff to create and present to Mrs. Williams the first Outstanding Ambassador for Peace award in Washington State.
After a few musical performances, the presentation of the Parents of the Year Awards were given out to 10 couples who had been nominated for that honor. District 10 Pastor, Rev. David Ryan, then led the group in a Marriage Blessing Ceremony, with couples sharing a cup of Holy Wine signifying their oneness and desire to dedicate their marriage to God’s work in America. The ceremony was completed with the sprinkling of holy water and a prayer, followed by a “forgiveness ceremony” to help erase past hurts and to make a fresh start as a couple.
At the end of the program, all were invited to enjoy a huge barbecue prepared by local volunteers.
Contribute by Nadine Andre, Bronx Family Church Council, Board Member of the Kiwanis of Riverdale, and David and Julie Okamoto.
On Saturday, July 27, National Parents’ Day was celebrated at the Castle Royale in Yonkers with over 130 participants attending. The event included representatives from the Yonkers Mayor’s Office, The City Council, the Assemblyman’s Office, the Yonkers Police Department, the Kiwanis Club of Riverdale, and the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC). More than 33 nominations and 29 families and individuals were awarded that day. The event brought together government officials, religious organizations, church groups, and civic groups in a powerful and united way, all to celebrate the importance of parents and families in uplifting our communities.
In addition to offering certificates to each awardee, the Mayor’s Office sent a proclamation commending the work and its long-lasting relationship with ACLC. This local event started as a grassroots effort initiated by Julie and David Okamoto, supported by ACLC. The organizing committee consisted of ACLC National Executive Director, Rev. Bruce Grodner, Rev. Esteban Galvan, Pastor of the Bronx Family Church, Nadine Andre and Yvonne Mercado, both Bronx Family Church Council Members and Board Members of the Kiwanis Club of Riverdale, and two sponsoring local Clergy, Rev. Dr. Nagi Yousef from the First Yonkers Arabic Baptist Church, and Rev. Noel Gallardo from Jesus the Redeemer Church.
The event began with Rev. Grodner giving a background presentation of National Parents’ Day, its bipartisan inauguration during the Clinton administration and the original initiation of Parents’ Day by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. The presentation stressed the importance of building and supporting committed, loving, and stable families as the cornerstone for peace and stability in the community. Rev. Grodner included statistics on the effects of family breakdown, juvenile delinquency and the impact of divorce.
The keynote address was presented by John G. Thompson, President of the Kiwanis Club of Riverdale, Corps Sergeant-Major of the Yonkers Salvation Army, and Yonkers Development Officer of the Yonkers YMCA. He gave a rousing speech based on his experiences within the aforementioned organizations that he serves and encouraged unity within the family, giving his own testimony and unique examples taken from the Old Testament.
The program continued with the presentation of awards to 29 awardees who each said a few words. Ms. Nadine Andre, the program emcee, gave a brief background of the awardees’ lives and contributions to their families and their communities as they were called to the stage. There was a foster mother who took in at risk youth, a family who emigrated from the Soviet Union, a pastor and wife who started a church, coming from the Dominican Republic not knowing a word of English, families involved in civic work, community service and local political work – all having excelled in every respect. It was wonderful to see the grassroots work that was done by these awardees, all aligning with the goals of ACLC and with the work of True Parents.
Another highlight was the presentation from children and their perspectives on family. Alia Shunneman, 16, and Kenneth Gavilan, 12, prepared comments and spoke of the gratitude they had for parents.
After some entertainment, a Blessing toast and ceremony led by Bishop Jessie Edwards, Chairman of ACLC and Co-Pastor at the Family Church of New York City, and his wife, Dr. Tanya Edwards.
The afternoon ended with joy, and heartfelt love and appreciation with many new contacts from government, churches, and civic organizations. The event was mostly attended by new contacts and people who were meeting our movement for the first time.
East Spencer, NC
On Thursday, July 11, the Paul L. Dunbar Group hosted its annual Parents of Excellence Celebration at the Essie Kiser Foxx Charter School in East Spencer, NC. Chairman, Kenneth Muhammad El, long-time member of UPF and 2016 finalist of the National Parents Day campaign, planned and directed the celebration to provide inspiration and hope for parents in the Rowan County community.
An audience of 50 attendees was welcomed to the event by pro tem mayor, Dwayne Holmes. Holmes encouraged parents and residents to remain hopeful and to continue to serve each other.
Bishop Dr. Ronald Hash offered an opening prayer, requesting that everyone continue to express and demonstrate faith, hope, and love in the community. Hash instructed the audience to remember God and to assist Muhammad El with whatever he was involved in because “he is a Man of God.”
A host of speakers then educated the audience on pressing matters. Shawn Rush, an associate minister and President of the East Spencer Democratic Party, spoke on the significance of voting and defending the rights of women, minorities, and education. Dr. Rev. Alberta McLaughlin, Director of Victim Advocates for the Salisbury Police Department, spoke about the need to provide resources to victims of crimes. Tina Wallace, Chairman of Essie Kiser Foxx Charter School, and Latisha Feamster, the school’s Operations Director, provided an overview of the school’s first year of service and encouraged parents to enroll their children. James Davis, Program Director for the PLDG 21st Century Afterschool program, explained the need to support more educational programs that were designed to enhance academic support for students.
The rest of the program featured potential nominees for Ambassadors of Peace, including, Dr. Nan Lund, a founding member of the Essie Charter School who also serves as treasurer for the PLDG. Lund informed the audience about PLDG’s plans to launch a community needs assessment in the Fall, which is critical to productive planning for families and the community as a whole. Veleria Levy, Second Vice-Chair for North Carolina’s Democratic Party, who discussed the impact of parenting on children and the social order. Minnette Smith, a Vice-Chair for the Rowan County Democratic Party, spoke about the need to assist families and children. Smith expressed that we have to do more, and that honoring parents was a great way to build families.
Muhammad El, John Pace, Pastor in Durham, and his wife, Sharon, presented the awards to the nominees, which included parent couples, as well as single-family parents. Each of the parents were honored for their dedication and commitment to their families and for their work in the communities they live in. Muhammad El stated that, “these parents are models for others and they have demonstrated excellent parenting, leadership, and service to the larger community. We must keep them engaged in the process to strengthen families. This group will produce nominees for the Ambassadors of Peace program in the Fall of 2019.”
Contributed by Roger, Executive Director of UPF Connecticut, and Daniela Wetherall.
On July 28, the Family Church of Connecticut arranged a Parents’ Day Celebration at the Walters Memorial Hall in Bridgeport, where 120 people gathered to recognize exemplary parents from the local area.
The idea to hold an event centered around families and marriages sprouted from a discussion between Roger Wetherall and Col. Francis Kalangala after attending an Ambassadors for Peace event in New York in November 2018. At the Hyojeong Family Festival held at the Belvedere Estates, President of Family Federation for a Heavenly USA, Rev. Demian Dunkley, said, “We don’t build relationships in order to invite people to events. We hold events in order to build relationships.” This quote inspired the Parents’ Day event organizers to invest themselves in building new relationships and reaching out to new communities and organizations.
The program began with a prayer from Rev. Glenn Pettway, Assistant Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Stratford, followed by welcoming remarks from Pastor Carolyn Rogers representing the AME Zion Church.
The comfortable environment of family and connection to God was created through a variety of entertainment, and an ice-breaker activity, which allowed guests to get acquainted with other community groups.
President of Universal Peace Federation (UPF), Dr. Michael Jenkins, then presented a quick overview of the history and significance of Parents’ Day, and Mayor of Bridgeport, Joseph Ganim, spoke a few words, saying, “The job of parenting does not stop with just one generation; it never ends, it is 24/7. My own father is 92-years-old now, but I still call him up for advice. My mother is 82 and I ask her what’s for dinner so that I can stop over! Thank you for what you are doing here, honoring parents in Connecticut. God bless all of you. Congratulations to the parents being honored here, to the grandparents, and the Civic and religious leaders.”
Because Mayor Ganim couldn’t stay long, Mike Deshotel, District 4 Pastor, initiated a quick Holy Wine toast to families.
Following the toast, Maria Vargas gave a very emotional message on the importance of the family to all religious traditions and to society, which segued into the presentation of the Excellence in Parenting Awards. A total of 11 couples from different backgrounds, faiths, single parents, adoptive parents and families, large and small, were honored and celebrated for excellent parenting and going above and beyond to contribute to society.
The outstanding couple who was selected as 2019 Connecticut Parents of the Year, Centry and Donna Gamble, have been married for 29 years. Unable to have children of their own, they decided to adopt three special needs children, and are core members of their church community ̶ teaching Sunday School and youth group programs, as well as serving the larger Bridgeport Community through the public-school system.
A total of 41 couples were nominated by Parents’ Day committees throughout the country. The selection committee was composed of community leaders active in faith, business and academia. Co-chair of the selection committee this year was former Congressman Dan Burton of Indianapolis, and President of Women’s Federation for World Peace, Angelika Selle, of Bowie, MD.
Congressman Burton said, “If there is trouble at home between the father and mother, or if the father is not treating the mother or children right, it can create a great deal of pain and unhappiness. And that problem spills out into the community and it erupts in many of the problems we see today in violence and family breakdown. The Parents’ Day effort seeks to strengthen and honor the role of good parents and families.” Mrs. Selle said, “We are very pleased with the outstanding honorees as Parents of the Year for National Parents’ Day. It was very challenging for the selection committee because so many outstanding parents were recommended. All of them are good parents and should be honored. The ones we are honoring tonight embody qualities of self-sacrifice, patience, faith and care for not only their own families, but also the children of others.” Read the rest of her speech here, or by clicking on the button below.
Seven couples from wide-ranging backgrounds and ethnicities were selected as Parents of the Year in categories representing faith communities, outstanding personal sacrifice and civic leadership, as well as one couple chosen to be overall Parents of the Year for 2019.
Congratulatory letters and proclamations were received from several state governors, U.S. senators and congressmen, and numerous members of the City Council of Washington, D.C.
Contributed by Bento C. Leal III.
A Parents’ Day Awards Ceremony, sponsored by the local chapter of Universal Peace Federation (UPF) USA, was held on Saturday, July 27, at the Bay Area Family Church in San Leandro, California. A total of 13 outstanding couples and single parents from around the Greater Bay Area received an Excellence in Parenting Award. Lance and Keisha Riley of Oakland were selected as the local Parents of the Year.
Parents’ Day was adopted by the U.S. Congress and signed into law in 1994 establishing the fourth Sunday of July as Parents’ Day, a perennial day of commemoration similar to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. According to the Congressional Resolution, Parents’ Day is established for “recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children.”
For more information about Parents’ Day or to nominate future awardees contact Bento Leal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday, July 20, a Banquet was held at the International Peace Education Center (IPEC), Las Vegas. The Banquet was in Celebration of Parents’ Day with special emphasis on the importance of Family.
Three Excellence in Parenting Awards were prepared for Fernando and Maria Romero, who were very moved to receive it, Rev. and Mrs. Gamboa, as well as Gard and Becky Harris (former State Senator).
Katherine Duncan wanted to honor three Ambassadors for Peace who had ascended this last year. She invited their families to attend and prepared the “Legacy Awards.” Each family received the award and then lit a candle next to their picture. The families were very moved and deeply appreciative of this gesture.
On Saturday, July 27, over 80 people gathered at the open auditorium in Halau ‘O Haumea, the Hawaiian Studies Department building at the University of Hawaii at Manoa to celebrate National Parents’ Day. Several VIP guests attended, including State Rep. Bob McDermott as the main speaker, and State Senator Kurt Fevella, whose couple received a Parents of the Year award.
Two other local couples from the faith community were honored as Hawaii’s Parents of the Year – Mr. Genie and Mrs. Edith Tamayo of the Fountain of the Living Water Christian Mission, and Mr. Steven and Mrs. Faith Wright of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hawaii.
At the end of the program, a Marriage Blessing Ceremony was officiated by Rev. James and Mrs. Marie-Francoise Mitchell, members of the American Clergy Leadership Conference Honolulu chapter, Rev. Sage and Mrs. Darnell Chee of the Ohana Church of the Living God, and Bishop Art Eugene and Mrs. Nida Eugenio of the Fountain of the Living Water Christian Mission. Couples in the auditorium drank Holy Wine and renewed their vows to be outstanding couples and parents together.
After the program, one participant said, “I am so inspired by the idea of the Parents’ Day and the ceremony of the Marriage Blessing. I want to get educational materials so I can share with my friends and families in the Philippines, as I am going to visit there next month.”
The next day, Sunday, July 28, the Honolulu Family Church held an outdoor Sunday Service. Three people gave testimonies about experiencing a spiritual breakthrough during the preparation for the Parents’ Day banquet.
Mr. Norihisa Shiotsu expressed his gratitude for an opportunity to serve God and True Parents. He said, “I turned 70 last month, and I repented so much as I looked back on my spiritual life course until now. I had been looking for an occasion to contribute for the providence.” He attended almost every banquet-related meeting and went out for church visitation nearly every day.
Mrs. Tomomi Uesugi shared a story about how she reconnected with Bishop Jesse Wilson after more than 15 years of disconnection. Many Unificationists in Honolulu gradually became inactive in church outreach as the number of Japanese missionaries declined in the mid-2000s. However, thanks to Rev. James Mitchell who helped find Bishop Wilson’s current location, Mrs. Uesugi was able to visit his church to meet him again. Bishop Wilson attended the banquet and gratefully offered an invocation prayer.
Dr. Jeff Nakama, Director of UPF Hawaii, shared how he invited people from the Hawaiian political community. First, he asked for a referral from Senator Mike Gabbard, who won the legislator Parents of the Year Award in 2016, and from there he reached out to Hawaiian legislators. He also went to the Hawaii State Capitol building with a few others for three days straight and knocked on the doors of current senators and state representatives. As a result, Mr. McDermott and Mr. Fevella came on board and attended the Saturday Banquet.