Humanitarian Service Award & Celebration
Englewood Community Activist & Advocate Deborah Payne Honored
The Community Relations Committee of St. Bernard Hospital honored the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its 22nd Annual Humanitarian Service Award and Celebration in the hospital’s Chapel. During the celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy, Englewood community activist and advocate Deborah Payne was honored for her decades of community service on behalf of Englewood residents.
St. Bernard Hospital’s celebration was designed to address Dr. King’s legacy, as well as the fragility of the gains won and the need to continue to advocate for the community. The award presented shines a spotlight on people or organizations that get involved in their communities. This annual special event brought together many members of the South Side community and beyond to honor Dr. King’s teachings and his philosophy of non-violence.
Keynote speaker for the event was Bishop Edward Peecher, founding pastor of Chicago Embassy Church in Englewood. Bishop Peecher reminded the audience of Dr. King’s love for all people and challenged everyone to be of service to the community. He lifted up Ms. Payne’s long term service to her Englewood neighbors as an example of one woman who continues to help others and who uses her leadership skills to bring people together to solve problems.
As a longtime member of the Chicago Embassy Church, Ms. Payne determined that she wanted to spend her life in service to her community. While raising her family and being an involved mother, Ms. Payne worked through the church to establish after-school programs for children, created activities for seniors and immersed herself in various community endeavors to elevate the community. She attended numerous community events accompanied by her camera as she snapped pictures to capture the beauty of the Englewood neighborhood and its residents to combat the negative images in mainstream media.
In 2013, the Norfolk Southern Railway Company gained approval to expand its rail yard in the Englewood community. Ms. Payne became the advocate for many of her neighbors who feared losing their homes and property. Her work on their behalf became the subject of a documentary titled “The Area,” which detailed her five years of advocacy for her neighbors. Ms. Payne now spends much of her time volunteering with the Second District CAPS program and teaching chair exercises to senior citizens at Oak Street Health. St. Bernard Hospital honored Ms. Payne for her many positive deeds and her heartfelt ideals that mirror those of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.