Contributed by The 411 News
Quietly they serve – fulfilling the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Their names will not fill the pages of history as does Dr. Martin Luther King’s. But the Gary Frontiers Service Club assures us at its annual Dr. King Memorial Breakfast that within our own community are living examples of his legacy.
Guided by Dr. King’s commitment of service to his fellow man to be a “drum major for justice… and for peace,” the Frontiers honored five community members at Saturday’s breakfast at Gary’s Genesis Center.
The honorees have different histories and backgrounds, but all have in common a willingness to serve their community. A public safety official, an educator, a physician, a businesswoman, and a blue-collar worker were selected as “marchers;” one received the Drum Major Award.
Dr. Janet Seabrook, founder and CEO of Community HealthNet, a network of community health centers in Gary and nearby communities was honored with the 2019 Drum Major Award.
Accepting her award, Seabrook invoked Dr. King’s words “that of all forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”
During her residency at Meth- odist Hospitals in 1996, she participated in the Mayors Task Force, a partnership between the City of Gary and the Indiana State Dept. of Health to obtain funding for the city’s first health center.
Community HealthNet’s first health center began in 1998, in a trailer in Glen Park. Today, there are five health centers in Gary, Merrillville, Hammond, and Calumet Township.
Sharon Chambers is an insurance agent and the first African-American woman in Indiana to own a State Farm Agency.
Chambers has served with the American Heart Association, Urban League of Northwest Indiana, and Methodist Hospitals Foundation Board. She is a Lifetime member of the NAACP. She is also a Lifetime member of GAPS – Gary Alumni Pathways to Students – a national group of West Side Leadership Academy alumni organized to support the school’s current students.
Chambers has extended her community involvement to the national level. She works annually with the National Baptist Convention Congress of Christian Education, where she serves on the Dean’s Staff.
Wendell Harris began his community involvement in the 1950s-60s as a member of the Fair Share Organization that protested the discriminatory hiring practices of Gary’s supermarkets – A&P, Kroger, and Titles. The organization’s pickets and boycotts worked, forcing the stores to hire African Americans.
Harris is a 43-year retiree of Inland Steel. He is a First Baptist Church deacon. Harris uses his passion for photography to chronicle community events, and compiles the church paper and church history.
Although Nellie F. Moore retired as administrator of Student and Family Services in 2005 from the Gary Community School Corp. after 41 years, she hasn’t left education in the past.
She serves on the board of the Gary Educational Development Foundation which has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships to Gary students. Moore served on the Gary Board of School Trustees from 2006 through 2018. A member of Christ Baptist Church, she has served as a deacon, trustee and Sunday school teacher.
Frontiers president Oliver Gilliam described Chief Monroe Smith “… as a man who is more famous in California than in Gary.”
Chief Monroe Smith was an assistant fire chief for the Gary Fire Department until he was called to take the leadership of the fire department in Compton, CA. In 1971, he became the first African American fire chief in California and also the first of his race to hold that position west of the Mississippi. Smith pioneered Compton’s Fire Science Academy and partnered with Compton Community College to develop an accredited Firefighter Training program.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky saluted the Frontiers saying, “Thank you for doing the greatest good in the community.”