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Tuesday, October 4, 2022


Oct. 25, 2002 – A St. Thomas organization working to inspire excellence in youth is taking time on Sunday to honor five adult volunteers who have kept the efforts going for the last 10 years.
This is the second year that SPARKS is giving out Flames of Inspiration and Commitment Awards to people who have contributed their time and effort to the youth group, founder Judy Gomez said. This year's honorees are Lockhart Elementary school teacher Symra-Dee Brown, nurse Merla Kimball, chaperone Winifred Francis, retired high school counselor Lydia Hendricks and Sen. Carlton Dowe.
SPARKS stands for Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility, Knowledge and Service
Gomez, who founded the group in 1993, when she was a V.I. senator, had words of praise Friday for all of this year's honorees, who will receive their awards at a luncheon scheduled for Sunday at Palms Court Harborview Hotel.
Brown, she said, helps organize the group's activities. Hendricks shares her culinary secrets by holding cooking classes. Dowe has lent interest and moral support to SPARKS from the early days and helps to provide opportunities for the young people to watch dance demonstrations and enjoy other cultural experiences. Francis, as a parent, is the all-rounder, pitching in wherever there's a need. Kimball counsels those who need advice — and took her skills at doing so to New York where she served as a Red Cross volunteer after last year's Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Among the supporters expected to be on hand to congratulate the honorees is entertainer and radio personality Irvin "Brownie" Brown, who says he will be featured in a supporting role, that of proud father to honoree Symra Brown.
"I'm so very proud of this young lady," Brownie said, adding, with characteristic good humor, "I can't keep up with her. She's ordering me around now, and I don't know how that sounds, but to me it sounds good."
Gomez said she also is proud of, and thankful to, all of the adult volunteers who have helped SPARKS thrive over the years.

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