Norwich NAACP branch announces awards at annual Freedom Fund Dinner

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Norwich — More than 160 guests attended the 56th Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner on Thursday at the Spa at Norwich Inn, with state Attorney General William Tong as the keynote speaker.

Tong spoke of his experiences as a member of an immigrant family coming to the United States and his being the first Asian American elected to statewide office in Connecticut.

Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut State Conference of NAACP branches, NAACP national board member and chairman of the National Criminal Justice Committee, told of his work and dedication to launch the “One Million Jobs Campaign.” The initiative is designed to help formerly incarcerated people get jobs once they are released from jail to reduce the numbers returning to jail for committing another crime.

Kenny Reels, past chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and an NAACP Silver-Life member, greeted guests and thanked them for their support.

This year the winners of the James L. Smith Minority Business Enterprise Award were Anthony Holland of Queen Bee's Oil Inc; Swaranjit Singh, owner of Norwichtown Shell, and Clarence Neal of Undefeated Entertainment.

The Carlene B. Lee Woman Business Enterprise Award winners were Helena DePina of Helena Hair Palace and Desiree Desilus of Super Smiley's Hop House.

The Lottie B. Scott Image Awards went to Nichelle Rollins for performing arts and Jasmine Stroud for visual arts. The Jacqueline D. Owens Service to the Community Award was given to the Chelsea Groton Foundation and the Evans Memorial A.M.E Zion Church.

Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, associate professor at Three Rivers Community College, was awarded the Virginia D. Christian Educator of the Year Award.

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