From left to right: Kierra Hodge, Sandy Bradley Claybrooks, Leilani Iglehart (Claybrooks’ granddaughter) and Jaiya Washington.
First Lady Barbara Jackson and Bishop Bob Jackson.
From left to right: Ruben and Kammilah Hayes; Joshua D’Tiole and Kazaria Phillips; Je’Leese Yabuki and Theory Dunwood.
Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ’s Youth Department presented a “Diamonds In the Rough” Debutante Ball last Saturday night at HS Lordships Restaurant in the Berkeley Marina.
Themed “Celebrating our Strengths and Accomplishments,” the black tie gala showcased over a dozen young women in white ball gowns with matching arms length gloves, wearing tiaras and accessories.
More than 500 parents and church members looked on as the ladies made their debut.
Presented by Bishop Bob Jackson and First Lady Barbara Jackson with Masters of Ceremonies Pastor Wendell McCoy and Lori Allen, the debutantes displayed their etiquette and danced to Boyz to Men’s “Mama, You Know I Love You.”
Attending the event were: Gladys Alexander escorted by Jeremy Dorsey, Maryama Alhark escorted by Michael Elijah Watson, Kammilah Hayes escorted by Ruhen Esotero, Nyla Hill escorted by Damari Pierre, Kierra Hodge escorted by Will Samuels, Leilani Iglehart escorted by D’Shane Kirk, Azzaria Jackson escorted by Tauqeer London, Kha’la Jones escorted by Derek Hubbard, Melanie Moore escorted by Rakeem Jones, Kazaria Phillips escorted by Joshua D’Tiole, Zakiyah Smith escorted by Brandon Mooney, Jaiya Washington escorted by Stokley Chaffee and Je’Leese Yabuki escorted by Theory Dunwood.
The keynote speaker was Teresa Cox, trade advisor of the U.S. Department of Commerce and trustee at Ohlone Community College. She encouraged the young women to focus on education as she shared her personal journey losing both parents before completing college, yet making history in science and as a career woman.
Bishop Dr. George Chigwada, founder of Christ the Rock Ministries International, headquartered in Harare, Zimbabwe, gave the invocation.
Kierra Hodge and Je’Leese Yabuki delivered spoken word performances. Chris Poston of the Oakland Symphony sang “The Prayer,” and elementary student Larriah Jackson sang, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
The Acts Debutante Ministry was founded in 2012 for girls ages 12 to 18. The new MIRROR program is designed for young men of the same ages.
Servant leaders and volunteers in the program, Leticia Pinn, Dondria Morgan and Milton Hucks, helped ensure the program ran smoothly.
Two Saturdays a month the Debutantes meet and learn ethics, Christian character, leadership and peer engagement, nutrition and combating peer pressure. This year, the girls volunteered at the MLK “I Have a Dream” program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and toured the Silicon Valley World Headquarters of Yahoo.
Future plans for the Debutantes include collaborations with the Alameda County Junior Commission to promote breast cancer awareness, Centerforce Youth Court to learn about legal careers and the Bay Area Alternative Press to publish their first book.
Proceeds from the book will be used to fund a Youth Center on International Boulevard in East Oakland.