Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Atlantic County will honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at its 32nd annual birthday commemoration. The ceremony will feature the presentation of the Community Spirit award to an outstanding resident who exemplifies his principles through their involvement in the community and their efforts to improve the lives of their fellow citizens.
This year’s honoree is Atlantic City resident Shalanda Austin. She will be recognized on Friday, January 18 at 11 AM at the county office building in Atlantic City, 1333 Atlantic Avenue.
“Ms. Austin may not yet be well known to all because she has quietly worked to make a difference in our community without expectation or need of personal recognition. She is truly one of our unsung heroes,” said County Executive Dennis Levinson. “It is for that reason that I am proud to honor her with this award in the name of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who embodied humility. As he once said, ‘Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.’”
Austin is a lifelong resident of Atlantic City. She graduated from Atlantic Cape Community College with an Associate degree in criminal justice in 2005 and earned a BA in political science from Stockton University in 2008. She is currently working towards her Master’s degree.
She was called into the ministry after college and in 2009 was nominated Christian Woman of the Year by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Atlantic City chapter. Austin founded In My C.A.R.E. Mentoring Program in 2015 to provide services for at-risk girls ages 8 to 18 and help coach them through life’s challenges and journeys. Austin recently launched two additional programs for young boys in Atlantic City and Pleasantville as well as Mentors Meet, a mentoring network designed to connect local and national youth leaders.
Austin is employed by the Atlantic City Board of Education but can also be found teaching gospel at a local senior citizen’s facility and administering encouragement and prayer to the weary at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and Oscar McClinton Park. She is also the author of a 40-day devotional and prayer journal. Her desire is to be a vehicle of change for the community.
The keynote address will be presented by Rev. Latasha D. Milton, senior pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in Atlantic City. Rev. Milton has a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary with a certificate in Black Church Studies. Upon graduation, she was the recipient of the Walter-Maulder Leadership Award and the Urban Ministry Award. She also earned a BS degree in Pre-Med Biology and graduated with honors from the University of Southern Mississippi.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony and celebrate the memory, inspiration and powerful life lessons of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.