In Harrisburg, Breaking the Chainz is building a community | Anwar Curtis

Breaking the Chainz award ceremony (Photo by Anwar Curtis)

With so much drama in Harrisburg, you’d think it would be hard to find a room packed with selfless people.

So let me introduce you to Breaking the Chainz Inc., a group of men — Lamont D. Jones, Barry “Butch” Coleman, Kevin Dolphin — who are working hand-in-hand with selfless parents, teachers, children, and neighbors to see their neighborhoods and communities flourish once more.

Anwar Curtis (Capital-Star file)

On Sunday, during a ceremony at the Harrisburg Armory, Breaking the Chainz honored the Capital City’s hometown heroes during their third annual People’s Excellence Awards.

There, such unsung heroes as as Antoinette Black, John Fox, Larry Washington; coaches Des Mangus and  Jimmy Jones; parents such as Mauricia Watson, Hollis Griffin Sr., and such as children Heaven Charles and Turon Dennis, just to name a few, were recognized for helping to make Harrisburg a better place.

Now I’m fully aware of some people’s perceptions of inner city Harrisburg. You’ve probably read the stories about how chaotic our school district is; how dysfunctional its youth are. So it’s important to take moments like this to punch a hole in that perception, to make sure events such as the one that took place Sunday are acknowledged and appreciated by a broader public.

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But I’m also reminded of the words of Helen Keller, who famously observed that, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

On Sunday, winners who exemplified Keller’s admonition were honored across four, separate categories. There was the “Overachiever” Award; the “Excellence” Award; the “Lifetime Achievement” Award and the “Most Valuable Parents” Award. In addition, the annual “Julian Mallory Scholarship” was awarded to two, college-bound high school seniors.

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A room full of selfless award recipients has to have a few guest speakers to drop a few gems of encouragement.

This year Breaking The Chainz reached out to Bryan Majors, the president and CEO of Major Preparations; Bryan Majors, author and veteran community leader Joseph Robinson Jr. and the Rev. Brenda L. Alton to do just that.

Alton reminded the crowd that ordinary people do extraordinary things.  Majors explained that obstacles in life will always occur, but the things you go through will help you grow in life. Robinson shared his perspective on Helen Keller’s quote.

It’s no secret, maneuvering through a city full of chaos can be draining.

It can also make a person no matter the age want to give up. This is why I commend organizations like Breaking The Chainz and other grassroots organizations.

Groups like these take the time to embrace the child who may suffer from self-doubt, and the child who is highly confident.

They also gravitate towards the adult who struggles to make mature decisions for the community, and the adult who is humbled by the community, always ready to serve and be neighborly, breaking the chain of self-destruction by bridging the gap through love.

This group is based solely off love and so is this annual ceremony. I would like to leave you with this: Love your neighbor as yourself, and remember the right chain will never be broken.

Every two weeks, Capital-Star Opinion contributor Anwar Curtis tells the stories of the real-world residents of Pennsylvania’s Capital City. Readers may email him at [email protected].

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