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Posted on: January 31, 2020

2020 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

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For our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday celebration, Mayor Kennedy, the Freeport Village Board of Trustees, Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, and Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé recognized and honored three Freeporters, who are an example of the level of devotion that Dr. King demonstrated in his life.

Congratulations! to our 2020 MLK honorees: Pastor Harold Banarsee, JoAnn Beauford, and Jose Ortiz.

Pastor Harold Banarsee Was born in Guyana, South America. He is the sixth of eight children. God called Rev. Banarsee to preach and teach the Gospel of Christ at a very young age so that others may come to know Jesus Christ and have an intimate relationship with the Lord, to love his word, and be equipped for the ministry of reconciliation. He is a significant voice of Christianity in many nations of the world. His diligent, expository teaching is based on the original languages of Scripture in light of the historical context in which the Bible was written. His innovative systems of vocabulary, illustrations, and biblical categories clearly communicate the infallible truths of God’s Word. Dr. Banarsee has come to embody John Maxwell’s essentials of leadership—vision, ability and integrity. It would take him from the learned halls of the Southern California School of Ministry, New York Campus; Masters School of Divinity; New York Theological Seminary, Church of God of Tennessee Chaplaincy training programs; into the graduate; The Leadership Fellows Program. He has served as Senior Pastor at the Church of God of Freeport NY for years. As a Visionary and Evangelist, he led many evangelistic missions, especially to Guyana, the Caribbean, Central America, Africa and India, which has been a tremendous blessing in advancing the work of the Kingdom of God. In June of 2011 he was appointed and is currently serving his third term as President of the Eastern NY General and Ministerial Assembly of the Church of God (24 Churches). Rev. Banarsee earned his Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology Degrees and is now a member of the teaching faculty of the Institute of Christian Leadership, New Jersey. He is a partner with the Navigator Ministries and a certified coach by the Church of God Minis-tries, Anderson Indiana. Rev. Banarsee is a loving and faithful husband to his wife, First lady Sheila; a father of two children, and God’s good Shepherd in the body of Christ. Rev. Banarsee understands the call upon the church to be a relevant force for good in society declaring; “It is our outreach that validates our up reach.”

JoAnn Beauford was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to Mae Domenica and Thomas Geraci. She graduated from Queens College with a BA and from New York University with an MA, both in education. She taught for five years in Parochial School and for 30 years in the NYC public school system. She married James Beauford in 1976 and they have three wonderful children, two daughter-in-laws, one son-in-law and four precious grandchildren. JoAnn and family have been residents of Freeport for almost 30 years. Her children attended Freeport Schools and graduated from Freeport High School. She now has 3 grandchildren in the district. As a retired teacher from the city school system she takes care of her 3 grandchildren while their parents are at work. Even during those years without children in the school district, JoAnn actively participated in Dollars for Scholars, raising money for scholarships for high school students in Freeport. JoAnn can still be seen selling t-shirts and sweatshirts at all community and school events throughout the year in efforts of raising money for Dollars for Scholars where she serves as VP. Since her grandchildren have been in Freeport schools, JoAnn vigorously contributes to the Atkinson, Bayview and Columbus PTA’s. JoAnn voluntarily headed the two Sports Nights, Stem Night and the Plant Sale at Bayview Ave School. She even initiated and donated plants from the PTA for a beautification garden project. JoAnn has volunteered as a Catechist, teaching First Communion classes at Our Holy Redeemer Church and is an active member of the book club at the Freeport Library. JoAnn is the unofficial captain of a morning Aquacise class at the Freeport Rec Center. She organizes field trips and after class breakfasts for this group of senior aquacisers affectionately known as the “Aqua-dinettes.” JoAnn is constantly running around the village to this meeting or that fundraiser, her family and friends are not quite sure how she finds the energy! She is known throughout town as Miss JoAnn and all who know her love her. She checks in on neighbors, assists parents with explaining their children’s homework assignments, and always jumps at the chance to help others. She is undoubtedly committed to education and community. JoAnn is truly a kind, welcoming, thoughtful energetic person who brightens everyone’s day when she walks in a room.

Jose Ortiz Jose’s mother and father moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic 41 years ago. In 2003, at the age of 14, he became a Freeport resident when his parents decided to move their family out of Brooklyn. As a Freeport High School student, he spent his summers working as the head bus boy at Bracco’s on the Nautical Mile. Understanding the value of a year round job, he began to work at the Freeport Memorial Library during his junior year of high school. After high school, Jose attended Nassau Community College for 2 years before transferring to Stony Brook University through the Educational Opportunity Program. As a History major and Political Science minor, he recognized the importance and need for social justice in education and society. After earning his Bachelors of Arts in History, he attended Hofstra University. At Hofstra, he graduated with distinction achieving a Masters of Science in Secondary Social Studies Education. Out of college he began to work in Bushwick, Brooklyn as a high school social studies teacher. In Brooklyn, him and his students earned awards for their work towards improving NYC standards on what is considered acceptably clean streets. NYC has since updated the rubric it uses to judge the cleanliness of streets and continues to partner with students to spark change in their communities. After two unsuccessful attempts at becoming a teacher at Dodd Middle School, he was hired in 2015 as a Bilingual Social Studies Teacher at Freeport High School. Since then he has been a part of the student government, night school program, varsity softball assistant coach, and most recently with the Young Men’s Empowerment Club. Through the Young Men’s Empowerment Club, students and faculty take on President Barack Obama’s challenge set out by My Brothers Keeper Initiative. Jose currently attends Molloy College where he plans to receive his SBL (School Building Leadership) Certificate in hopes of one day becoming a principal. The youngest of three consisting of two sisters, he places a major emphasis on respect and love towards all women and especially family. After 17 years, he still lives in Freeport where he hopes to one day raise a family.

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