Orange County, March 7 – One vote can make a difference. One hundred votes can make the difference also, as well as one thousand. It has happened here before in local, state and national public office elections: Candidates have won by a remarkable one vote or a very slim margin.
So, if you live in your city limits, you most likely already know that this Tuesday, March 9, is your Election Day. This includes the City of Ocoee (Districts 2 and 4), Town of Windermere (three council member seats), City of Winter Garden (Districts 2,3 and 4) and City of Winter Park (Mayor).
Election Day hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at your polling place or location designated by your city or town clerk.
In Ocoee, voters will select Rosemary Wilsen (incumbent) or Knox Anderson for District 2 – at their assigned voting place. In the other City of Ocoee race, incumbent George Oliver will faceoff against three competitors: Lori Hart, Joel F. Keller and Keith Richardson.
Winter Park voters will vote for a new mayor. Both candidates, Phil Anderson and Sarah Sprinkel, have served on the Winter Park Commission before.
In Windermere, voters will choose up to three council members from a list of four on the ballot: Mandy David, Anthony Davit, Mike Hargreaves and Bill Martini (the only one who currently sits on the town council.)
Winter Garden voters will select Illiana Ramos Jones or Ron Mueller for District 2 and Incumbent Mark A. Maciel will vie for the District 3 seat, against Robert “Bobby O” Olszewski. For District 4, Dawn Antonis will faceoff against Incumbent Colin Sharman.
If you live in your city limits and you are registered to vote ( and you missed early voting), take advantage of the power in your vote, which is your voice: Go vote on Tuesday, Election Day. Make sure everyone in your household votes also on Tuesday and remind your neighbors!
If you have any questions or concerns, call the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, (407) 836-2070 or your city/town clerk’s office.
February is the month we all observe Black History. All day, every day is when it is! Truth be told, we live among greatness and Nouchelle Hastings’ life is proof.
That name should sound familiar because Hastings is well known in Orlando for her community leadership and philanthropy, especially in the area of faith, child-youth development and the arts. After living in the Orlando area for more than 23 years, Hastings, in 2017, joined her husband in Davie (South Florida) where he went to manage a plating project for a governmental agency.
Although she moved and took a position with an engineering firm, her community work continued. Overseeing Business Development & Marketing for The Falcon Group’s Miami Office Southeast Region, she has been recognized for her work and honored with the company’s Humanitarian of the Year at its annual meeting in January. Hastings has also received Humanitarian and Change Agents awards over the past three years from the Town of Davie and Proclamations and Letters of Recognition from the Broward County Board of Commission, along with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz for her historical role in bringing jazz, music and mentoring to the Town of Davie.
“Being a humanitarian is helping people who are suffering and saving lives any time any place in the world. And so humanitarian work requires being responsible, conscious of the circumstances of other people’s lives, and helping them on the basis of need, without discrimination,” she said recently.
Reflecting, Hastings admitted that she was reluctant to relocate when she did because she was afraid there would be nothing for her to do in South Florida. If you know anything about Hastings, you know she is a go-getter and full of creative ideas to help others.
In Orlando, you could always catch Hastings, a graduate of Berkeley College-New York, around town, helping to put together special events that mostly benefited young people. She worked with Darrell Butler as co-founder of the Greater Orlando CARES Mentoring Movement (an affiliate of the National CARES Mentoring Movement founded by Susan Taylor, Editor Emeritus of Essence Magazine, organizing Music and Mentoring through the GO CARES for children (in urban communities and Pine Hills), who had no extracurricular Arts activities due to school budget cuts. Their Jazz in the Hills fundraising event was one-of-kind and it showcased local talent who brought to life legendary singers and performers like Della Reese (played by Ms. B, local radio personality) along with Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald (played by Alicia Mott and Sissy Peoples, local singers who were directed by Jami Thomas in the “Just Jazz” presentation). Awards were given to some folk who, over the years, contributed to music education and mentoring programs for young people: Martel and Diana (Lady D) Taylor, Yvonne Loggins Coleman, Apostle VW Jones and Mark NeJame.
In addition, Hastings served as Chair for Guardian Care Rehabilitation Center Family Council, where her involvement and advocacy for aging people gained her a Proclamation and Black History Heritage and Legacy Award. Also to her credit: She’s served as President, Orange Technical College Foundation and Outreach Director and key organizer, He Got Up with retired NFL Hall of Famers (www.hegotup.org).
In Davie, Hastings, an ordained church Elder, on a larger scale working her passion, formed the Davie Jazz Society, the outreach sector of the Davie Jazz Festival. When needed, she serves as a volunteer chaplain for a local hospital and often performs weddings. She also serves on the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts Onyx Women board and the Miami Children’s Museum event committee. Through her position at Falcon, she recently co-founded the Women Empowering Women in Development organization. Hastings’ dual role allows her to work closely with executive staff and upper management at the company’s corporate office and work closely with property mangers, homeowner association officers, contractors and vendors – out in the community.
Her care for helping others started long before arriving in Orlando. However, it was in Orlando that the Hastings became both Beacon and Eagle Award recipients. That work earned them a Power Couple of the Year – part of an event produced by Author Pamela Reaves in the Baltimore/District of Columbia Metro area.
Today as a part of their family business, the couple formed Omega CARES and the Oatmeal Project, which serves the homeless through structured and strategic outreach. “We go out at sunrise and we bring instant oatmeal packets, sealed forks and hot water canisters; we are there to help the less fortunate embrace the day with their first hot meal and a smile.
“We believe that a life serving others is a life well-lived.”
For more information about Nouchelle Hastings, connect with her on LinkedIn.
(Pictured below: Nouchelle Hastings. Courtesy of Nouchelle Hastings/Girl What Do You Bring to the Table)
Happy New Year! Yes, I am still sending New Year’s greetings, socially and professionally. We endured so much last year, and we are still enduring. Yet, we are moving forward, hopeful for better days ahead. It’s up to us to make it a Happy, Blessed New Year. (Hope we all take heed to lessons learned and reminders revealed during the pandemic.)
This is still a new beginning! I pray you are seeking God for wisdom, knowledge and understanding before you plan your year. (Some of you already have done that. Good for you!)
For me, my hope is in God and I trust him in and with every aspect of my life, leaning on Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 8:28 and Philippians 3: 13-14. Join me!
I see more partnerships for Orlando Community News and opportunities to grow this online news publication! That equates to more good and great news in areas where it is rarely shared, empowering people to live better – spiritually, physically and financially. Our neighborhoods will improve, as well as the systems that were created to serve and protect them, for example.
I’m hopeful about and proud of the change in our country, effective Jan. 20, 2021: We witnessed the inauguration of a new president and vice-president, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Kamala D. Harris, both of whom made history just by winning the election and taking office. President Biden became the oldest person to assume the highest office in the land and oldest sitting president ever (AP). Vice President Harris became the first woman, first Black American and first person of Jamaican and South Asian descent to become Vice President! How historic, significant and hopeful is that! Their fight to restore the soul of America has officially taken flight. For the record, Biden gained points from me when he quoted a part of Psalm 30:5 in his inauguration speech, “…weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning.” He added: We will get through this together. Amen, Mr. President! Seasons change and it’s going to take all of us to make this a better place and time for all of us. Vice President Harris tributes her elevation to generations before her, who believed in and fought for equality especially her mother. I love this quote from her, “While I will be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”
That brings me to my word (thought and scripture) for the New Year: FORWARD. I am marching forward – toward everything God has for me. “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing (I do): forgetting what (lies) behind and reaching forward to what (lies) ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”-Philippians 3: 13-14, AMP, Bible.
2021: Forward, March! Let’s all get to work in our perspective communities, states and nations. I solicit your continuous prayers for this organization and I will continue to pray for you, your family and your endeavors. I am speaking it: Better days are ahead. Amen, Amen!
My Christmas Eve tradition over many years was thwarted somewhat by a mean old virus. I would rush from work, most times still in work clothes, and head down Interstate 4 to get to the Candlelight Service at First Baptist Church of Orlando. I enjoyed it because it was always a spirit-filled family event and often, money collected during the service went to charities in the local community.
But God! This year, I didn’t have to rush anywhere because the Candlelight Service I attended was virtual, on Zoom and my brother, Rev. Reginald B. Johnson Sr., led the service along with members of the church where serves as senior pastor.
So while Covid-19 prevented in person worship, I truly enjoyed the virtual service! We lit candles and sang along to traditional hymns such as “Away in A Manager,” “The First Noel” and “Joy to the World.”
The message was the same: Jesus Christ is the Light of the World! We celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ. He is the manifested Love of God – born to save us! Amen. (Luke 2: 11-12)
Plus, my 85-year-old mom, one of my sisters along with an uncle and aunt were on the Zoom virtual Candlelight Service too. That was icing on the cake, sort of speak (I must have another round of Christmas dinner on my mind, LOL)! My brother told me later that the service had more people to attend than those who attended in the past at the church. That’s good news too!
It all reminded me not to despise the twists and turns in life because we can find peace and even more blessings in a new direction.
Here are some highlights from the service. Hope this blesses you as it did me.
Church members lit Advent Candles and read scriptures coinciding with what Jesus bought into the world when he was born.
HOPE: Jesus’ birth brought hope into a world that felt hopeless. The people were under Roman rule and high taxes. God had promised them a Savior, a king who would overthrow the Romans and rule like King David. Had God forgotten His promise in Isaiah 7:14? They had hoped He would be the one. They had hoped He would have come by now. They had hoped…think of some times when you have felt hopeless and know that we can have hope in Jesus. God has fulfilled His Promise. Scripture Reading: Isaiah 7:14
PEACE: When you are under the rule of someone else as the Jewish people were under Roman rule, you may not feel very peaceful. When Jesus was born he brought peace into the world. Peace is the calm even in the midst of strife or occupation. When Jesus is a part of our life we can have peace when our life may be filled with problems. Think of some times when you may not have had peace in your life. The Christ of Christmas wants you to have the peace that passes all understanding. Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:6
JOY: When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He brought joy into our lives and our world. Joy is the presence of God in our lives, even in the midst of conflict. May you experience the joy that the Christ Child brings this Christmas. Scripture Reading: Luke 2:10 and Matthew 2:11
LOVE: Someone has said that “Christmas is Love.” At Christmas, God demonstrated His love for us as He sent His son to be the Savior of the world. Through Jesus’ birth God said, “I Love You.” May you experience the love of God as you celebrate the birth of Jesus. Think of some times when you really felt loved. Remember that God was faithful in His demonstration of His love for us in the birth of Jesus. Scripture Reading: Luke 2: 1-20 and John 3:16
CHRIST: (Himself) We are now in Bethlehem. Can you hear the angels singing, hear the flutter of angel wings, hear the cows moo or the Baby Jesus cry? God had not forgotten His promise. Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus – God’s gift to the world. In Jesus, God gives us hope, peace, joy, love and the presence of His son Jesus. This Christmas may you celebrate and truly experience the birth of Jesus in your life and in our world.
The service ended with testimonies of God’s goodness in the lives of his people and a prayer for individuals and for our country.
Candles were lit from the Christ candle (held steady by the leader in each household) as we sang together, Silent Night.
Kudos on a job well done Pastor Johnson and members of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, DeLand, Florida.
Merry Christmas everyone! With Love, Peace, Joy and Hope!
-Trish Martin, Founder and Editor, Orlando Community News
“And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – II Chronicles 7: 12-14
In this season of a pandemic, racial injustice and disasters, no doubt, people all around the world are praying. Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up or lose heart. (From Luke 18:1) Guess what? We are his modern-day disciples so he’s telling us now to do the same: always pray and don’t give up.
I had a chance to talk with two intercessors, from Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, about reminders in prayer and some keys to effective prayer. They both started with the foundation: People must first believe in God (have a relationship with God) and use the authority he gave them to pray victoriously.
“Prayer during this time is specific and strategic when pulling down of strongholds –specifically in situations that are occurring such as the uncertainty of the longevity of COVID-19, the killing of innocent Black people, rampant police brutality, a government provoking hatred, loss of income and separation of families, all of these things where evil is entrenched and produces hard, tough, difficult problems that are not easily solved.
All we can do is pray,” said Deaconess Jami Thomas, who served as the church’s Intercessory Prayer Ministry leader for more than 10 years.
“As believers, we are to hold fast to our faith. We’re in a spiritual battle. We can’t predict what’s going to happen. But we can prevail regardless of what happens. If you want a victory, you have to pray victoriously. This pandemic has no power over our prayer nor our praise.”
Amen, we know there is absolutely nothing too hard for GOD so we trust in HIM. (Ephesians 3:20, Luke 18:27)
Sis. Lorene Johnson, who was appointed leader of the prayer ministry last year by Pastor Willie C Barnes, shared some keys to effective prayer:
Do your best to live a life that’s pleasing to God – righteously. Confess your sin and repent. Reference: I Peter 3:12
Give yourself to God. No longer sit on the throne of your own heart, making decisions according to your flesh and asking God to agree with you in your mess. Reference: Romans 12:1-2
Be honest with God when you pray. As the scripture tells us, before we were formed in the womb, God knew us. If we are saved, he set us apart for his service. We may or may not be a prophet to the nations (like Jeremiah) but each life in Jesus Christ is purposeful. Reference: Jeremiah 1:5
Forgiveness is most vital. We must forgive others in order to be forgiven by God and in order to be heard by God. We tend to justify our position of not forgiving because of what another person said or did, how we were treated or how we were wronged. We have no right to do this. Jesus paid it all up on the cross. He bore our sin and shame. He set us free. Let’s walk in that freedom! Reference: Matthew 6:14-15
Some reminders going through these turbulent times: Make sure you’re anchored steadfast in Jesus. Seek him for answers, Johnson said.
“The word says – cry loud and spare not. Pray,” she said. “You have to use your voice. God wants to hear us cry out for one another – for our country, for our government and economies around the world. Pray for our pastors, leaders, authorities. God has allowed the entire world to have the same experience together.
“We have been selfish and self-serving for much too long. If all you can manage to get out is ‘Lord God, Help Me,’ do that. The Holy Spirit will interpret the rest.”
She added: “God cannot fail. He has forced us to look at the man in the mirror – not the face of the man that he quickly forgets but, the heart of the man that causes us to repent and turn wholly and solely back to God. Our position of power is on our knees.”
Defending his dissertation, earning a doctorate degree, has been the grandest achievement in Sid Crudup II’s life.
“It definitely was a journey,” he said in a recent interview. “Not bad for a kid from Jersey [Perth Amboy].
Dr. Crudup, long-time Orlando resident, is an educator who wears many other hats: He is a husband, an ordained Preacher/Reverend, businessman; author and playwright, to name a few.
He served as a minister at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville from 1998 to 2005, spending most of his time with the Prison Ministry. His wife, Sandra, was active in the Women’s Ministry and in Home Mission. They currently serve at St. John Baptist Church in Orlando (where he was ordained in 2015).
Dr. Crudup defended the dissertation, “Examining the Relationship Between Teacher Stress and Disruptive Student Behavior,” online (on Zoom) around the onset of news of the Coronavirus outbreak. In the qualitative study, about 200 pages long, he shadowed six teachers and posed the same 17 questions to determine their stress levels, student disruption levels and classroom management. The doctorate is from the University of New England.
He said he saw first hand, while working as a Reading and Math Tutor with third and fourth graders at an inner city elementary school, the challenges teachers faced daily and also, the heavy stuff students dealt with on a regular basis.
“The truth is, in a lot of schools, the teachers are babysitters,” said Dr. Crudup, Program Assistant with Orange County Public Schools. “There are children who are homeless. Some have been labeled, misdiagnosed and heavily medicated. It is difficult for them to learn under those circumstances.”
Teachers have to get creative, especially now with learning being remote-based. “Highlight their interests,” he said. “Do you feel the students are getting what you’re putting down, as much as they did in the classroom?”
His inspiration to get the doctorate degree came from his mother.
“My mom called it. She told me, ’I know you’re in the music field and you’re doing well,’ I just see you standing in front of a large group of people, speaking, teaching.” He didn’t see it then as a young man in his 20’s pursuing a music career and later working with people like D.J. Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith (then hip hop rapper and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).
Family members have always called him professor and earning his doctorate degree moved him a step closer to that title. In fact, before the degree, he authored and co-authored several books and a hit stage play, “Church Folk Can be Dangerous People.” (The play is based on a revised edition of a book he wrote prior to the play.) He has also worked remotely as a guest lecturer with California State University-San Bernardino, mostly covering the African American history and experience especially related to literature, politics and Racism. His dissertation in the education field got published not long after he earned the degree.
Recently, Dr. Crudup shared a milestone: He’s gotten more than 300 downloads of his dissertation! Of course, he gave thanks to Christ, for getting him through the task of writing it and people reading/using it.
Dr. Crudup, who holds bachelor and masters degrees in Criminal Justice, plans to do more academic writing and would consider a professor position (higher education).
“Eventually, I want to build a school for our kids, write the curriculum,” he said. And of course, he will extend his study.
Connect with him online on LinkedIn: Dr. Sid Crudup II.
Great news! Orlando Community News this week continues its occasional spotlight called “Our Men, On Purpose.” It’s a tribute to Central Florida men minding their businesses and reaching back to improve their communities. The goal is to inspire our younger brothers or young Black males in the community: If these guys can dream big, work hard and watch their dream unfold, so can you! Next up, long-time Orlando resident, preacher, educator, author and playwright Rev. Dr. Sid Crudup II. Stay tuned! Also, if you have a suggestion for this spotlight, please email Trish Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With a deadly virus still affecting the country, voters have been encouraged to make a plan to vote and vote early – to be safe and educated on the issues. Before today’s Presidential Election Day began, more than 100 million people had voted early by mail or in person, according to reports.
Here in Florida, voters will also decide on key amendments such as whether to keep the state as a closed party state and whether to increase the state’s minimum wage from $8.56 per hour to $10 per hour and increase it annually by a dollar until it reaches $15 per hour, etc.
In Orange County, open public offices include Sheriff, Property Appraiser and School Board, to name a few.
If you requested a mail out ballot and you received it but did not mail it back, you must turn it in to your polling site (they will give you a new ballot) or you can take your COMPLETED and SIGNED MAIL IN BALLOT to the elections office – for it to be counted. (You have several hours left to turn it in – before the elections office closes at 7 p.m.) It is illegal to vote twice. County election officials are pleased with the number of ballots that have been returned either at an early voting location or their office.
If you have any questions about voting today, contact the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, (407) 836-2070.
This election is significant in so many ways. First, Trump, 74, seeking his second term in office, became the third president of the United States to be impeached by the House of Representatives last year (December) and faced removal by the Senate. Two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – had to do Trump wrongly using our government to solicit election assistance from Ukraine in the form of investigations to discredit his Democratic political rivals. The Republican-controlled Senate refused to interview key witnesses and acquitted Trump of the charges in February 2020 and he remained in office.
In addition, if Biden,77, is elected, his partner on the Democratic ticket, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, will become the first woman elected as Vice President. Born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris spent most of her younger years in California and previously worked as the state’s attorney general.
October 25, 2020 — Hey Central FLORIDA! Early Voting sites are open TODAY! Hours in Orange County: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and in Seminole County: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. So after church (albeit online), go vote early. This not only makes you an informed voter (if you’ve studied your Sample Ballot for instance) but also a strategic voter in case anything happens on Election Day to prevent you from voting.
LISTEN, if you requested a mail-in ballot (or absentee ballot depending on how it’s labeled with your local elections office), have you received it? Don’t wait to complete it, sign it properly and TURN it in to your local Supervisor of Elections Office TODAY. You can drop it off during the same early voting hours.
Awareness of presidential elections is always heightened. This year is different in two major ways. First, this country is experiencing a deadly pandemic (COVID-19) and people are wanting to be safe when they vote. Second, the President of the United States has fumbled in his response and responsibility to protect us, American people. He continues to ignore the advice of his own medical experts. While he and his family and dozens of his staff members have been infected by the virus, he continues to trot across the country to campaign, with crowds of people standing in close proximity with no face masks.
The truth is the president has done a poor job overall in his first term in office. The country is more divided than ever and that should alarm every single American.
In case you haven’t heard or read in the news, the current administration, Republican governors and party leaders around the country are trying just about everything to stop people from voting safely and with confidence that their votes will be counted. What we’re seeing is voter suppression attempts, not widespread voter fraud, as the current president has said.
So today is the day to get in your car or call Uber or Lift to take you to vote early. This is how you voice your wishes on who want to represent YOU and what issues YOU approve of. In addition to selecting someone else to run the country (and I recommend the Biden/Harris ticket), you can also select a higher minimum wage for workers in this state. If Amendment 2 is approved, it would raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour and increase by $1 each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026. After that, increases will be based on annual rate of inflation.
So go vote today. Vote wisely and vote early.
This is your friendly voting reminder. Let’s go Florida! We’ve got work to do!
There has been a lot of talk about our “new normal” with the spread of the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic and voting in one of the most crucial and historic United States Presidential Election in years, couldn’t escape the conversation. People are planning ahead and making adjustments to stay safe and make sure their vote counts.
Many voters in Central Florida are voting early – either by mail-in ballot (completing them and dropping them off to their Supervisor of Elections Office) or by voting early in person. In Orange and Seminole counties, early voting will start today, Oct. 19 and run through Nov. 1.
The early voting hours for Orange County: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and for Seminole County: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Early Voting Locations or Centers are spread out throughout both counties. Orange County has 20 Early Voting Locations, including the elections office at 119 W. Kaley St. in Orlando and Seminole County has eight Early Voting Centers, including the elections office at 1500 E. Airport Blvd in Sanford. Just go to your local elections office website to see the other locations and addresses. Orange County: http://www.ocfelections.com and Seminole County: http://www.voteseminole.org.
In Orange County, every early voting location will have a drop-box for vote-by-mail ballots during early voting hours, according to election officials. The only exception is for the newly added early voting location at the Amway Center (home of the Orlando Magic National Basketball Association team). That location will accept vote-by-mail drop-offs on early voting days from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. (So it opens one hour earlier than the other locations for vote-by-mail drop offs.)
Same thing in Seminole County: Voters can use election office drop-boxes at each early voting location throughout the county. (Same hours as early voting, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.)
Voters can further prepare for voting early in person by completing their sample ballot and taking it with them to vote early. That will save time and keep people safer (by avoiding being in crowds for extended periods of times.)