The Flint Jewish Federation will honor three people who have worked to make their communities better during the 29th annual Donald Riegle Community Service Award Event.
Funds benefit the refugee resettlement of Jewish Community Services.
Awards on September 27th 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
Mary Coleman grew up in rural Roberson County, North Carolina the only child of Esther Downing. Her mother moved to Detroit seeking to improve her life and left her daughter in the care of her parents.
While in North Carolina Mary worked as a day laborer alongside her grandparents in the cotton fields. She spent much of her day daydreaming of one day having a better life. At the age of thirteen, her mother moved her from North Carolina to Detroit to begin her journey for a better life.
Mary Coleman was educated in the Detroit Public Schools, graduating from Eastern High School in 1959. She began her professional career with Michigan Consolidated Gas Company in Detroit, Michigan. She later relocated to Flint, Michigan and began working for Consumers Power Company in 1968.
Mary is retired from Equitable Life Insurance Company, where she worked and managed the local agency for 30 years. During her distinguished Equitable career, she helped countless families make many sound financial decisions. She received several awards, but the most cherished are Associate of the Year Award and the induction into the prestigious Equitable Hall of Fame, becoming the first African American female and only the third minority in Equitable’s 156 years to obtain this achievement.
She is a strong believer in giving back to her community. She is active in many civic and community programs including serving on the Executive Committee of Greater Flint Afro American Hall of Fame, Dinner Chairperson for Martin Luther King Tribute, Vice Chairperson CEBA Board for WFLT 1420, Board Member for Foundation for Mott Community College, Past Mid-Michigan Chairperson for United Negro College Fund, Past President of Planned Parenthood of Eastern Michigan, Founders Board Society of Flint Institute of Arts, serving on the committee of Greater Flint Women and Girls Advisory, Former Club Scouts Den Mother at Boy Scouts of America-Tall Pine Council, Honorary member of the New McCree Theatre Chairperson of University of Michigan-Flint Holt, Broadway, Broome, McCree and Wright Scholarship Committee, and a member of Royal Start Chapter #27 and Order of Eastern Star.
Mary has received numerous awards and honors from several national and local organizations including Community Support Award, Wiley College; National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc., 1998 “Positive Image Award”; National Association of Media Women’s “Women’s Media Woman of the Year Award”; UNFC’s Distinguished Volunteer Service Award; National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. Gamma Delta Chapter’s 2012 Hall of Living Legends Award; Youth Leadership Certificate of Appreciation; and 2015 Women of Achievement Award, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Flint Alumni Chapter; Essential Piece Award from Motherly Intercession.
She has been an active member of Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle Church since 1970, serving on senior usher board for over 48 years, trustee board and in 1990 Mary was especially committed to providing scholarships to deserving students, so with the blessing of the late Pastor A.J. Pointer, she established the Metropolitan Scholarship Program, presently known as the Annie Mae Pointer Scholarship.
Mary is a widow after losing her beloved husband Ernest “Pete” Johnson to cancer. She has two adult children, James Franklin III of Flint, Michigan and Angela Hughes of Pheba, Mississippi; five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Mary has achieved these personal and professional accomplishments despite her battle with lupus for over 36 years. She credits all she has achieved in her life to her Lord and Savior. Her philosophy of life is “With him all things are possible, and to God be the glory for the things He has done”.
Berna Sorscher, the second of four wonderful children born and raised in Flint by amazing parents, Samuel and Sidell Slosberg Sorscher, thrived in a Jewish home filled with lively evening discussions at the kitchen table, where no subject was taboo, and everyone had the right and opportunity to be heard. With six voices, it sometimes took a while to contribute to the discussions.
Berna and her siblings were educated in the Flint public schools: Pierce Elementary, Whittier Junior High, and Central High, all within a six-block radius of their house which enabled them to walk to and from school.
Berna’s parents instilled strong work ethics in their children by checking their homework, having them practice their penmanship daily, attending Hebrew and Sunday school, playing musical instruments, getting involved in religious and civic activities, and answering the daily question of, “What do you do with your time?” Contributions of time and energy to help anyone in need were staples in their lives.
Berna’s daughter, Jennifer Elizabeth is married to Michael Paul Bish. They have two multi-talented children, Sidney Madeline and Jack Benjamin and reside in Huntersville, NC.
Berna is a lifetime member of Hadassah, Vice President of Membership at Congregation Beth Israel, board member of Beth Israel Sisterhood, member of the FIA and FOMA, and has served as a board member of the Flint Jewish Federation. She is currently employed at Temple Beth El.
Jack Minore has been involved in Civil Rights/equality issues all of his adult life – and even earlier. He was one of about 25 white men who went down every night at about 9 PM to stand around the perimeter of the lawn because we feared that the police would react at the 10 o’clock shift change. The Police Department had 300+ members and only 2 were Black.
He was a member of HOME, Inc (Housing Opportunities Made Equal). The group actively fought housing discrimination – in the “red line” days. Jack and his wife bought a home for a Black family who had been denied a purchase opportunity SOLELY because of their race.
He campaigned for the open housing ordinance in Flint, for the Equal Rights Amendment, supported rights for the GLBT community, and for marriage equality. On the City Council, he pushed hard and initiated the effort to transfer Bishop from a City airport to a Regional Airport Authority. He also championed some efforts to reduce flooding from the Robinson Drain and Gilkey Creek. He pushed for the first run-off pond at a parking lot – – and other environmental issues – including original recycling arrangements. He also continued those efforts in the State Legislature and earned a 100% rating from the Sierra Club.
In every instance, Jack played a small role and MANY others shared in the successes he mentioned.
Jack taught high school English for a few years – then switched to Special Ed for Emotionally Disturbed and spent most of his 32 years in education at the Whaley Children’s Center. He then became the Executive Director of the Gen. Co. Bar Association where he served 15 years on the Flint City Council – – leafing tor my 6 years in the State Legislature. Then he served as the Interim Exec. Director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition – – and, for a time as the interim Legislative Director of the Michigan AFL-CIO. He is now (finally/firmly) retired.
He served on the Boards of the Flint River Watershed Coalition, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, the East Village Magazine, and the Nepessing Group of the Sierra Club.
Jack’s most significant contribution to humanity has been his four great children, along with their spouses and my grandchildren. Of course there, like everywhere else, my contributions were minimal with MUCH or the credit going to their Mother – my former wife Arletta Minore. My children are Jeffrey D. Minore, Eric A. Minore, Steffan W. Minore and Jennifer A Minore.