By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Ruth Winstead credits her faith in God for the ability to keep going when life gets tough.
Winstead was among 16 African American leaders to be honored at the 32nd annual African American Catholic Leadership Awards March 2 at the Crown Plaza Hotel.
Winstead, a parishioner of St. Augustine Church, received the Genevieve Boone Award. The award is named for Genevieve Boone who served as a catechist and recognizes an individual “who exhibits a high level of commitment to his or her faith and in the African American community,” said Dr. Patricia Carver, who served as the night’s emcee.
Carver said that as a leader at St. Augustine and in the African American community at large, Winstead “embodies the essence of what Mrs. Genevieve Boone stood for and demonstrates the quality of commitment that she exemplified.”
Winstead shared with the 450 or so gathered in the ballroom that God stepped in at the lowest point in her life and reminded her she still has a purpose.
“In my life, I’ve always tried to set examples — examples of love and faith. My faith has kept me going, especially this past year, which I say was the toughest year of my life,” she said.
Winstead recalled losing her husband and feeling lost.
“I lost my other half and I was just that — lost. So lost, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who to turn to. I didn’t know who to talk to,” she said.
When she wanted to give up, she said, a voice in the back of her head said “hold on, sister, just a little while longer.” One day, as she stood in her kitchen, the song “I’m Still Here” by the Williams Brothers came on the radio.
“I got to listening to the lyrics of that song and the next thing I knew the tears were flowing, I was praying and I was thanking God because I am still here,” she said.
She said she realized it was “by the grace of God” that she had made it this far.
“I know that God still has work for me to do and I want to be ready when he calls my name. I know he has a plan for me and I will praise and worship him all the days of my life,” she said.
Winstead also addressed the young people at the event, particularly those receiving awards, and said she is “proud of the young men and women you have grown into.”
“I’m excited for you, excited for the youth, because I can’t wait to see what they will become because I know it’s going to be something great,” she said.
Three other adults received the Acacia Award, the banquet’s highest honor. They are: Carolle Jones Clay of Republic Bank; William “Bill” Harris, a member of the Archdiocesan Gospel Choir and parishioner of St. Augustine Church; and James Taylor, a member of the Archdiocesan Gospel Choir and parishioner of St. Martin de Porres Church.
The award recognizes an individual or organization for their “years of service, support and fidelity to the African American Catholic community,” a news release from the OMM said.
Five other adult leaders were presented with the newly-named Deacon James and Mrs. M. Annette Turner African American Catholic Adult Leadership Award.
They are: Charles Bivens of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church; Deanne Byrd of St. Martin de Porres; Stephanie Henry of St. Martin de Porres; Subrenia Lain of St. Augustine; and Mary Spaulding of Holy Rosary Church in Springfield, Ky.
The award recognizes recipients for their work in their parish and local communities.
Thirteen young people — eighth graders and high school seniors — received Rodriq McCravy Awards, given to young men and women who have demonstrated leadership in their church and school communities.
Eighth-grade recipients are Aniya Bing and Radhiya Cobble, both of St. Augustine. They will receive scholarships for Catholic high school.
High school senior award recipients are Alexis Cammack of St. Augustine; Jediah Holman of St. Martin de Porres; Ihechiluri “Chi Chi” Chinyere Igwe of St. Albert the Great Church; and La’Dymon Key and Tre’Quan Phillips of Holy Rosary. They will receive college scholarships.