FORT WAYNE—Scores of caring people gathered to honor two of the city’s most giving people.
On May 21, the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana named Sweetwater Sound founder and President Chuck Surack as Humanitarian of the Year during a ceremony at the University of St. Francis Performing Arts Center in downtown Fort Wayne. During that same ceremony, one of the city’s youngest leader also was lauded for her contributions to the community.
Lauryn E’leesia Jones, a 14-year-old freshman at Concordia Lutheran High School was named Youth Humanitarian of the Year.
The Red Cross Humanitarian Awards are designed to recognize “an individual or couple whose humanitarian contributions to our local community exemplify the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The award focuses on the first of these principles—Humanity.
The Red Crescent Movement is a Red Cross operation in Muslim country.
Surack is well know in the community as one of the nation’s top entrepreneurs, owning not only Sweetwater Sound but a number of other businesses. His philanthropic endeavors are well known in Fort Wayne.
Although just 14, Jones already is making a mark in her community. Active in school and in her community, she has been on honor roll since elementary school. Currently she is a junior varsity cheerleader and member of Concordia’s track team, Jones has received numerous awards for academic excellence. Most recently, she was selected to participate in Ball State University’s Summer Scholars Program, as well as Northwestern University’s Center for the Gifted and Talented student program in 2013.
Outside of school Lauryn participates in Queen’s Literature & Arts Club and the Voices of Unity Youth Choir. She has appeared in several local plays and was nominated for an Anthony Award for her role as Maretha in “The Piano Lesson” in 2010 with the Civic Theatre.
In 2010 she traveled abroad to compete in China with the Voice of Unity Youth Choir where they became world champion gold medalist.
Jones has a gift for public speaking and has been featured in many local newspaper articles for her past speaking engagements on behalf of the Queen’s Club, Voices of Unity, Fort Wayne Urban League, NAACP, Saint Francis and IPFW to name a few.
She is the youngest of three children born to Edward and Regenia Jones.
Lauryn said she believes “knowledge is power” and that even as a young person you have the ability to inspire and impact lives. Her future goal is to become an ER physician.
“I’m honored to have been selected to receive such prestigious award. I want to thank the American Red Cross for this recognition,” said Jones at the ceremony honoring her.
“I didn’t always know how important it was to give back. I give and try my best to help others.
“I do know I am one of many talented young people,” Jones continued. “The only reason I’m able to stand here today is because of the investment in me that began at home with my parents and spread to other members in the community who have continued to mold and encourage me.
“I am truly humbled to be here but there are so many others who could be here if they had the resources. Please continue to invest, in our community and make it possible, for others like myself to serve and experience all that life has to offer.”
She closed her remarks at the ceremony by thanking her parents, Marshall White, founder and CEO of Unity Performing Arts Foundation and Chuck Surack for their support and guidance.