After 13 years, Hoboken resident Richard Hicks’ mission lives on. The Hoboken Housing Authority hosted its annual Black Youth Empowerment Luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Boys & Girls Club in honor of Hicks and his dream to motivate the children of the community.
Carmelo Garcia, executive director of the Hoboken Housing Authority, was one of several speakers urging students to reach for the unthinkable.
“You need to make the impossible, possible,” Garcia said. “You need to choose a vehicle you love and are passionate about, and you need to use that vehicle to serve others, such as the awardees here today have done.”
Ivette Miles, Commissioner Rob Davis, LaTrenda Ross, Wanda McDonald, Sybil Lynch, Spencer Perez, Grendaly Lopez, another honoree, were all recognized for their service to the community.
The keynote speaker for the event, Wale Indris Ajibade, addressed the children by telling them what was “cool.” He told them “cool” meant students from the neighborhood graduating from Harvard and Stevens Institute, and “cool” was understanding the many discoveries to be made in the world and striving to make them.
The luncheon featured several presentations from students who were already taking steps toward their goals. Three young boys, known as the Lil Monstaz, performed two rap songs, one of which mentioned their coming from a small town and having big dreams to fulfill.
“The program was inspiration, uplifting and a joy to be in the presence of the youth of the future,” said Hoboken Housing Authority Vice Chairman Robert Davis.
Thirteen years ago, Garcia partnered with former councilmen Ruben Ramos and Chris Campos to bring to life to Hicks’ vision of encouraging the youth. The event has rapidly grown from 25 audience members the first year to more than 150 on Saturday.
Hicks was known for sitting in his wheelchair on the stoop of his Hoboken home encouraging the young people passing by to reach for the impossible.
“We planted a seed, nourished it cultivated it and I promised Richard we would make this happen as long as he put on his prosthetic legs and walked up here for the 1st time,” Garcia said, “and guess what – he did.”