Honors bestowed upon community matriarchs
Mother’s Day came a little early for a group of local women.
More than two dozen ladies were treated to a sumptuous meal and celebratory program in their honor during the first ever Unsung Mothers of Grace and Faith Honoree Celebration at the Piedmont Club last week.
The Club’s posh Cardinal room was decorated with dramatic floral arrangements and festive pink and white accents for the April 27 event, which was organized by Carmen Carlton, Carolyn Carson and Sharon Smalls. The three friends joined forces with 11 other women to host the gathering as a tangible way of honoring the women who have played important roles in their lives and the lives of others, including church mothers, community mothers and mothers they have adopted in the workplace.
“This is an event for you guys – this is a special event for you,” Smalls told the women at the outset of the luncheon. “We wanted to say to you guys today that you guys are our heroes and we love and thank and appreciate you for all that you’ve done over the years.”
Honorees dined on a feast of Jack Daniels chicken breast, seasoned vegetables, mashed potatoes and bourbon pan gravy as Jamina Johnson Zoti serenaded them with a rousing rendition of “You Brought Me from a Mighty Long Way,” followed by a praise dance performance by Smalls’ niece, Malaycia Goldsmith, and the smooth jazz sounds of Smalls’ husband, Sam Smalls, on the guitar, accompanied by pianist Mischael Goldsmith and Shawn Smoot on the drums.
“I just hope that they feel the love and they understand that we so appreciate their role in our lives,” Carlton, a claims specialist for Blue Cross Blue Shield NC, said of the mothers she honored, which included her biological mom, Loleane Williams. “They’ve just been that model to act like a lady, be like a lady and know the love of Jesus. That’s what they’ve shown us.”
Baltimore, Md. native Geraldine Marshall is described in the event program as “the epitome of strength, wisdom, elegance and love,” and she had equally kind words for Carlton, who sponsored her.
“Carmen’s been like the daughter that I never had, always making sure that we had what we needed,” she said, referencing her longtime husband Fred Marshall Sr. “Anything we needed, she was there to help provide. We love her very dearly.”
Marshall, a retired R.J. Reynolds employee, said she didn’t know what to expect when Carlton invited her to come downtown last weekend. Having known Carlton, a fellow member of Greater Church of Deliverance (which is led by Marshall’s son, Bishop Freddie Marshall), for more than 25 years, Marshall admitted she was a bit suspicious when Carlton declined to provide details about how she would be spending her afternoon. In hindsight, grandmother of nine said she was grateful to have made the trip.
“I am so glad I came,” she declared. “It’s a beautiful occasion and one that I will never forget.”
Carson and Smalls, who have been friends since grade school, sponsored a parade of women who have positively impacted their lives.
“If we were good or bad, they disciplined us,” said Carson, a merchandiser for Macy’s who was affectionately known to the mothers in her neighborhood as “Lil Carolyn” growing up. “They didn’t care; they were our mamas away from home.”
City native Eva Gray-Allen, a Medicap Pharmacy employee and grandmother of 16, said she was touched by the outpouring of love and appreciation that the mothers received during the luncheon.
“It’s beautiful; I am so proud of all the ladies,” she declared. “I feel so special.”
Other Unsung Mother Honorees include: Mae Alice Archia, Mary Boone, Hattie Bradford, Lillie Calhoun, Barbara Drake, Rosa Flowers, Dometric France, Leona Gist, Leona Jones, Mary Williams Ingram, Frances Lindsey, Algie Lee Singletary McGregor, Izora Moore, Dorothy Douglas Patterson, Earnestine Rucker, Thelma Todd, Gwendolyn Wharton, Mildred Miller Williams, Mary Wilson, Queen Wright and Mary Meadows Williams. Tributes were also made to the late Barbara Tucker, the late Katherine Octavius
Leary Surratt and the late Eula Matthews. Organizers say they plan to make Unsung Mothers an annual event.