2008-09-17 Holland Sentinel "Bring a dish to pass at Community Unity Potluck"


Bring a dish to pass at Community Unity Potluck
By LORI TIMMER
The Holland Sentinel

Members of the Holland community are proving they will not tolerate racism by joining as a group to say “Not Here. Not Now. Not Ever Again.”

A Community Unity Potluck, a follow-up to the racial slur that defaced a northside family’s driveway a month ago, is taking place 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, in the bandshell area of Kollen Park on Van Raalte Avenue at Lake Macatawa. In addition to the potluck, employees from two companies have pooled funds to offer a reward for information about the vandalism.

Representatives of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance and the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony invite everyone to attend the Community Unity Potluck to show support and friendship for the Robinson family, create a welcoming event for all people, and make a commitment to anti-racism in the community.

“We have an incredible lineup of speakers and entertainers. In fact, we’re receiving calls daily — people want to contribute,” said Kim Douglas one of the event’s organizers. She added “(This is) such a moving response to a terrible act.”

Those attending are asked to bring a dish to share, their own table service and nonalcoholic beverages and lawn chairs. Vic’s Tiki Hut will be selling food, Cold Stone Creamy has donated ice cream and the Macatawa Snack Wagon will be on site.

“I am so pleased that we’ve had this kind of response,” said Douglas of the community’s involvement.

Marvin Younger, president of the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony, will be master of ceremonies, and the Rev. Jeff Meyer of Crosswinds Community Church will give the invocation.

Speaking on the theme “What’s Our Responsibility?” will be Holland city Councilman Dave Hoekstra, West Ottawa Public Schools superintendent Patricia Koeze, Hope College student Ayannah Abiade, and other community leaders.

Also speaking will be Lt. Lee Hoeksema and Capt. Jack Dykstra from the Holland Police Department, and Patricia Strachan of the Holland Chamber of Commerce.

Entertainment for the afternoon will include a steel band, African drumming, Ray Hudson and the Core City Community Gospel Chorus, a harp medley and the dance groups Turning Pointe, Ballet Folklorico Sol Azteca, and All For One.

A community pledge, “Now Here. Not Now. Not Ever Again,” protesting the graffiti and celebrating diversity, has been signed by nearly 3,000 people and was published in The Holland Sentinel and Grand Haven Tribune earlier this month.

For more information about the potluck, contact Kim Douglas at (616) 355-6698. Also organizing the event are Lindsey Ajega, Darla Robinson and Robyn Afrik.

A $750 cash reward is being offered for information about a suspect or suspects who painted the racial slur and committed other acts of vandalism in Park Township in August.

The reward money was pooled together by employees of Primera Plastics in Zeeland and Consumers Energy in Port Sheldon Township, said Lt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office continues to investigate the incident. Bennett said little information has come forward so far.
Anyone with information on the vandalism is encouraged to call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation tip line at (616) 738-4687 or Silent Observer at (616) 392-4443.
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