05/11/11 — Continental Society recognizes Comatha Johnson for long service

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Continental Society recognizes Comatha Johnson for long service

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 11, 2011 2:22 PM

Ask Comatha Boyette Johnson about having an award named in her honor and she quickly shifts the focus to the youths and community that she has served during her 34 years as a member of the Goldsboro chapter of the Continental Societies.

Ms. Johnson, who is currently the longest-serving regional director in the society, was honored during the recent regional meeting of Mid-Atlantic Region of Continental Societies Inc.

The regional organization has named the group's Outstanding Member Award after Ms. Johnson in recognition of her years of "vision, outstanding leadership, devotion and dedication."

"We (recently) finished the Mid-Atlantic Regional meeting in Greensboro," Ms. Johnson said. "That is where all of the chapters come together and when we celebrate all of the programs that the chapters have done and awards presented.

"At the regional meeting, we had our business session. We also elected new officers for the region. I am going out. We also had the awards and recognition luncheon where the award that was named for me was announced. It made me feel that all of years were certainly worth the effort but to be recognized ... is just a blessing, just a Godsend."

Another first for the session was a banquet that was given in her honor.

"It was emotional because often times when things are named for you, it is done posthumously," she said. "For people to want to do that and you are aware of it, it was just heartwarming and humbling. It was really, really emotional for me because to think that people thought enough of what I have tried to do in this role that it merited that kind of status. It was just blessing to be able to witness it."

The Goldsboro chapter will celebrate its 50th anniversary later this year, and Ms. Johnson, a Mount Olive native, joined in 1976.

Ms. Johnson said she has enjoyed her years of service and working with youths including events like a recent career fair.

"Our focus is to help young students understand there are vocational careers and businesses that they can investigate and pursue that do not necessarily require a four-year college degree," she said. "Another focus is to help kids understand the significance of staying in school because the dropout rate is really sad, especially for minority males.

"We are really concerned about that and want to provide an avenue for students to understand that there are options for opportunities beyond high school if you don't have the desire to go to college or you don't have the funds. There are other things that you can do to make an honest living. We have a scholarship program in May that is another focus."

Nationally, the society has a "five point thrust" -- health, education, employment, recreation and arts and humanities, she said. The society is dedicated to the socio-economic and cultural welfare of underprivileged children and youths.

"So all of our programs are focused in those areas," Ms. Johnson said. "So just about anything that we do you can key it to the five-point thrust. We also have a national mandate and that is the program to address childhood obesity, literacy, asthma awareness and employment."

While there is a national theme, Ms. Johnson said that when she became regional director that she wanted a regional theme -- "Leading, Lifting and Loving Children."

She said that she felt honored when speakers at the regional event mentioned the theme she had developed instead of the national one.

Ms. Johnson will step down in July after serving for eight years as a regional director. However, she said she will continue to remain active in the organization. She also has served for eight years as president of the local chapter.

As regional director she was responsible for the establishment of several projects and programs including ME (Mentor and Educate) to enhance services provided to children and youths; Service to Youth Award for outstanding chapters; Sunny D Reading program for chapters; expansions of the region's scholarship program at the high school level; the Sisterhood Legacy Award (the region's highest award); Continental Extra-Effort Award and the Cooperation and Commitment Award.