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On Jan. 13, WNC Baptist Fellowship Church of Asheville celebrated and honored Martin Luther King Jr. The 21st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute to Children and Youth Celebration showcased the One Youth at a Time (OYAAT) outreach education youth group. They sang, performed, danced, and spoke of the importance of Dr. King in their lives. Founded in 1994, OYAAT has served more than 4,000 students in Asheville and Buncombe County schools in its 20 years. OYAAT focuses on mentor and tutoring programs, outreach, and educational services for at-risk children and families.
Rev. LC Ray, who has been a pastor in the community for 50 years, said their mission is to stop children who might drop or fail out of school and to ultimately keep them from going down the wrong path. Commissioner Whitesides could not agree more and stated, “It takes a village to raise a child, this is so true. That’s why I commend the efforts of One Youth at a Time. I’ve watched you struggle with this for 25 years, but somehow you kept it going, and that’s what’s great. You’re doing good, so keep up the good work.”
Commissioner Al Whitesides was the evenings key note speaker. Whitesides recalled in his speech a time when Dr. King spoke to a youth group he was part of in Atlanta when he was 18: “Dr. King said, ‘Young men, you will be fighting for equality for the rest of your lives.’” At the time Whitesides stated, “I didn’t believe it, but here I am today still fighting… he was right.” After his speech, Commissioner Whitesides was given a certificate of appreciation for his participation, outstanding service and commitment, and for being true to Dr. King’s Dream.
In 2018, Commissioners awarded the OYAAT program a $40,000 Strategic Partnership grant to continue its mentor and tutoring programs, outreach, and educational services for at-risk children and families.