Pernon Dunston President of Kiwanis Club of Bedford Stuyvesant Awards Scholarship to Boys & Girls High School Grad

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Pernon Dunston, President of the Kiwanis Club of Bedford Stuyvesant recently awarded the Joel Samuels Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $500.00 to Darrel Desilva, a recent grad of Boys and Girls High School. The award ceremony and dinner were held at Two Steps Down restaurant at 240 Dekalb Avenue, in Brooklyn.

Desilva was one of several candidates, who were nominated by various community leaders throughout Bed-Stuy. However, it was probably a combination of the glowing letter of support from Boys and Girls High Principal, Bernard Gassaway that caught their eye. Gassaway heaped accolades in the letter, describing Desilva’s exemplary behavior as a student.
(PHOTO L-R: Kiwanis Pres. Pernon Dunston, Darrel Desilva & his Mother, Cleveland Vaughn, Kiwanis Exec. Sect'y)

According to Kiwanis president, Pernon Dunston; Gassaway’s letter was very compelling. “But more than that, when you meet him, you immediately understood why the principal was so enthusiastic about him. He’s really a nice kid!” Said Dunston, with that ever present smile that indicates that he was pleasantly surprised.

“Mr. Desilva truly is a role model, and has earned the scholarship as a result of his tireless efforts to be of service both in school and in his community. In the Kiwanis Club of Bedford Stuyvesant, it is our job to grow and reward those who are trying to be of service. We have to recognize them when we see them, and let them know that we appreciate them. “

The criteria for being nominated for the award are Community Service, Academic Excellence and good character, integrity, personality, positive attitude.

Gassaway in his recommendation letter stated that Darrel Desilva was an “exceptional candidate for the scholarship. He possesses the requisite qualities, academically and socially. I have complete confidence in Darrel’s ability to succeed. He has always been open. He has always been engaged in purposeful learning. Unlike many of his peers, he never engaged in excessive TV, viewing or playing video games for hours, Darrel had a sense of balance for his life. Darrel has served as a role model for his peers, and strives to excel academically and socially.”

"Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time. They have adopted six "Objects" to help guide activities:
To give primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life. To encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships. To promote the adoption and the application of higher social, business, and professional standards. To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship. To provide, through Kiwanis clubs, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service, and to build better communities. To cooperate in creating and maintaining that sound public opinion and high idealism which make possible the increase of righteousness, justice, patriotism, and goodwill (wikipedia online).

Mr. Dunston, who recently became president of the Kiwanis Club of Bedford Stuyvesant, is himself a role model, and exemplifies the principles for which the organization is famous. It is indeed rare to find a young person who is intelligent, educated, accomplished, and developing his own entrepreneurial skills. At age 23, Mr. Dunston is well on the way to distinguishing himself as an entrepreneur.

Like Desilva, he has had the benefit of having his father, Samuel Dunston, president/CEO National Allotment Insurance Association (NAIA), as a mentor and confidant.

Darrel Desilva’s father instilled qualities of discipline and determination, coupled with good manners (yes they do still matter) and a sense of service to his community. Desilva will be attending Kingsborough Community College in the fall, with a major in physical therapy.

The Kiwanis Club of Bedford Stuyvesant meets the second Thursday of the month at Two Steps Down, from 6:00P to 9:00P. The membership is open to youth in the neighborhood, and is powerful and positive alternative to the streets.

In addition to scholarship awards, Mr. Dunston indicated there are several activities for the youth in the Bed-Stuy community. The National Night Out, on August 3rd, at Von King Park, is held annually to bring the community together against crime.

Additionally, an activity he’s extremely enthusiastic about is the upcoming Barnyard Tour that takes place in late August. “We will be taking 30 children from the community out to the Federation of Black Cowboys horse ranch in Howard Beach. They’re going to ride horses, they’re going to learn about lariats, and other tricks cowboys of the old days used to do. They will go on a tour of the facility, meet several rodeo riders and Black cowboys. This will be a day of fun, adventure and learning.”

Dunston’s father, Sam Dunston, President and Founder of the National Allotment Insurance Agency (NAIA), pulled out a treasured photo of him at age 5, at the Federation of Black Cowboys with Rodeo Rich Washington, standing in front of one of the stables. Of course the smile is unmistakable.

Kiwanis is a service organization that was founded in 1915 to serve children and youth using two approaches. The first approach attempts to improve the quality of life directly through activities promoting health, education, etc. The second approach tries to encourage leadership and service among youth. Currently, Kiwanis sponsors about 7,000 youth service clubs with nearly 320,000 youth members.

Kiwanis members have tried to help shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, mentor the disadvantaged, and care for the sick. They have built playgrounds and raised funds for pediatric research.

Builders Clubs, Key Club, Circle K, and K-Kids are part of Kiwanis Service Leadership Programs. They are sponsored by a local Kiwanis Club and receive funding and professional guidance from Kiwanis. K-Kids (elementary school), Builders Club (middle school) and Aktion Club (for people who have disabilities) are considered Kiwanis-led programs. Key Club and Circle K, college level versions of Kiwanis, elect their own club, district, and International officers each year to lead the organization.

Individuals interested in the activities of the Kiwanis Club, or are interested in becoming a member, contact the Kiwanis Club of Bedford Stuyvesant at (718) 622-3899 or pd.kiwanis@gmail.com.

The Kiwanis Club of Bedford Stuyvesant has dedicated its life to helping our youth realize their potential in their communities, but they can't do it alone. It's up to the adults in the community to provide the assistance needed in the form of role models, mentors, activity directors. The more positive activities our youth have to engage in, the less opportunity they have to become victims of the street.

Stay blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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