NAACP event gives inspiration and ‘HatAttitude’
— There was plenty of “HatAttitude” inside the Upper Chesapeake Ballroom on Saturday.
The 115 people who attended the eighth annual Pre-Mother’s Day HatAttitude Brunch clearly immersed themselves in the theme, showing up in hats of all styles and colors, from peacock-showy to understated.
There were fedoras, porkpies, Easter bonnets, cloches and versions of pillboxes,
just to name a few. Some looked like floppy beach hats. At least one of them – a blue and white beret number – had been crocheted.
But the event, which is sponsored by the Cecil County branch of the NAACP, went beyond people parading around in a wide variety of chapeaus, enjoying a bountiful brunch and even taking part in a little bit of dancing.
It raised funds to cover four of the five $500 college scholarships that this county’s NAACP branch awards to a graduating senior at each of Cecil County’s five public high schools, totaling $2,500 in money to help pay for higher education, according to the Rev. Elyse Murray, president of the local NAACP branch.
Proceeds for the cause were generated through a silent auction and raffle ticket sales during the HatAttitude Brunch, which, as one of the event’s bonuses, allowed attendees to celebrate Mother’s Day eight days ahead of time.
The Cecil County NAACP branch makes a $500 donation to pay for one of the scholarships, while money raised from the brunch covers the remaining four scholarships, Murray said. Although the scholarships are championed by the NAACP, any Cecil County public high school senior is eligible to apply for one, she added.
“People ask me all the time, ‘Is this just for black kids?’ The answer is no. It is for any student,” Murray said, noting that past scholarship recipients have been white and Asian, as well as black. “All they need to do is go to a school counselor, get the application and write the essay. I encourage them (graduating seniors) to do so.”
One of the few men in attendance Saturday was Norman Webster Sr., of Elkton. Clad in a derby-style hat with a plaid band, Webster has the distinction of being the HatAttitude Brunch’s “first male hat winner,” an honor he received two years ago after the annual Hat Parade.
“Anything for education, I’ll cross any type of line to support that,” Webster said.
Elder Catherine Doreen Pritchett, pastor of the Faith Unity Fellowship Ministries in Dover, Del., served as the mistress of ceremonies during Saturday’s event.
One of the guest speakers was Wil- liam Tipper Thomas, a 29-year-old former three-sport athlete who graduated from Morgan State University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering – despite a life-altering incident that occurred during the end of his senior year of high school.
During his riveting and inspirational speech, Thomas told the audience that he planned to attend Morgan State University on a football scholarship he earned. Thomas also told the crowd that, since he was a boy, he had dreamed of attending that college and of playing on its football team, the same one on which his father played.
But a few weeks before his high school graduation, a shooting incident occurred on school property and – even though he was a fleeing, innocent bystander – Thomas suffered gunshot wounds that left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Because his father had instilled in him the value of education, however, Thomas elected to use his mind, rather than his body, to make a positive impact in the world.
Thomas works full-time as a systems engineer. He spends his free time as an advocate for youth and for people who live with disabilities. He also serves as a mentor, a servant leader and an inspirational speaker – which is how Thomas perfectly functioned Saturday during the HatAttitude Brunch.
Women toting their purchases walk away from the 19th annual St. Mary Anne’s Garden Market in North East on Saturday.
Perryville residents Sharon Thompson (left) poses with her daughter, Jessika Burton, during Saturday’s event.
Margaret Brown, co-chair of the Cecil County branch of the NAACP’s HatAttitude Brunch committee, smiles during Saturday’s event.