The Flint Jewish Federation will honor three people who have worked to make their communities better during the 28th annual Donald Riegle Community Service Awards on September 26th at the Flint Institute of Arts.
5:30 pm Wine and Hors d’oeuvres Reception
6:30 pm Award Program and Entertainment
8:00 pm Dessert Reception
John E. Rhymes
John Rhymes was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, the youngest of 12 children.He faced hardship at a young age when both of his parents passed away in his youth. He was taken in and raised by his Aunt Vinnie Gilmore, who was equipped with lots of God-given wisdom, but very little customary school education. Mrs. Gilmore did not have the opportunity to learn how to read or write, her signature was merely an “X”,John was forced to become self-motivated and determined to make something out of his life.
Education: Mr. Rhymes received his High school diploma from Parish High School in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. After high school, he attended Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi where he received his Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. He continued to further his education with a Master Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. Mr. Rhymes also completed thirty hours of training in Education Leadership from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
Work Experiences: Mr. Rhymes served within the Flint Community Schools for 32 years before retiring in 2003. During his tenure with the Flint Schools he served as a teacher, Social Service Field Worker, Assistant Principal and Principal. During the years 2003-2008, he served as Director of the Sylvester Broome Center. His responsibilities included overseeing the day to day operations, the after school program for low income students through the development of the Amistad Academy, and Horticulture programs during the summer months.
Community Service: Mr. Rhymes distinctive personal contributions are marked by 32+ years of dedicated service to African American males. He has worked continuously with the young male population to instill remarkable traits of leadership, self-esteem, improved communication skills, high academic standards and outstanding public speaking skills. The journey began when he became a big brother for several boys in the city of Flint through Big Brother Big Sisters.There has been countless hours of his personal time spent nurturing young men into capable representatives of the Gamma Delta Kudos sponsored by the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. and the Kappa Leadership League sponsored by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
He is a loving husband to his wife Lessie Odom-Rhymes of 47 years. Together they have two daughters, one son-in-law, four grandchildren, one great-grandchild, one adopted son,one god-daughter and several young men who affectionately call him dad through the years of mentoring.
He is a member of Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle, Dr. Herbert Miller II, Pastor, where he serves the church in many capacities as a lay person.
He is presently the Executive Director and Founder of the Institute of R.H.Y.M.E.S. “Reaching And Helping Young Minorities Excel And Succeed” a nonprofit organization.
James Richardson, MSW. Retired executive after 22 years as CEO of Planned Parenthood of East Central Michigan and 13 years as Director of Housing and Community Development for the Urban League of Flint. Mr. Richardson is a Trustee and Treasurer for the Flint Public Library, a board member of the Neighborhood Engagement Hub, retired Vice-President of the Urban League of Flint Board of Directors and served as the Co-Chair of the Flint Master Plan Advisory Committee and is a Commissioner for the City of Flint Charter Review Commission. Mr. Richardson is a graduate of Marlboro College with a BA in Social Psychology and of the University of Michigan School of Social Work with an MSW degree. Jim and his wife Jane have lived in the City of Flint since 1972 and have five adult children and three grandchildren.
Kay Schwartz is Director of Library Services at the Flint Public Library. After a 20 year career as a CPA, most of it with Dupuis & Ryden in Flint, Kay went back to college at the University of Michigan’s School of Information to earn a Master’s degree in Information and Library Science. She joined FPL in 1998 as its Cybrarian, then served as Head of Technical Services before being named Interim Director in 2009 and Director in 2010.
Little did she know when she changed careers how much she would need her business and CPA background as the library weathered an economic crisis that would see its revenue decline by more than 40%. Today, Flint Public Library has a stable budget and is energetically activating a new mission to be Flint’s go-to place to Learn for Life.
Kay and her husband Mark moved to Flint, Mark’s home town, in 1978. After studying with Rabbi Gerald Schuster, Kay joined the Jewish people in 1982, becoming a member of Temple Beth El. Thanks to her new Temple friend Roberta Gluck, Kay joined the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood that same year and, in fact, was a member of the board that hired Jim Richardson as Executive Director!
In addition to Planned Parenthood, Kay has served on boards for Temple Beth El Sisterhood, Jewish Community Services, Genesee Free-Net, Flint Jewish Federation, and Michigan Library Association. She is a charter member and past President of the Rotary Club of Greater Flint Sunrise which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Flint and Genesee Literacy Network, the Finance Committee of Christ Enrichment Center, and is co-chair of the Rotary District 6330 Area 7 Literacy Committee.
Kay and Mark have been married 46 years and have two daughters and a son, all married to wonderful people, and a grandson who’ll be 2 in December.