The 7th Annual Joseph D. Sarafa Scholarship luncheon was held at the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC) on Thursday, June 25th to congratulate this year’s Michigan scholarship recipients. The event hosted students, parents, AFPD members and guest speakers to an afternoon celebration of the future leaders of tomorrow in the heart of the city. In total, 31 students received scholarships at the luncheon.
Speaking at the event was Judy Jonna, sister of Joseph Sarafa, Butch Hollowell, Corporation Council for the City of Detroit and the event’s keynote speaker Earl Ishbia, owner of Sherwood Foods.
The luncheon was led by AFPD President and CEO, Auday Arabo who presented the scholarships to this year’s winning students. The $1,500 scholarship was awarded to extraordinary and deserving students who will attend or who are already attending an accredited public college, private college or university.
The event opened with a prayer from Political Consultant and Analyst, Steve Hood, who reminded the attendees that, “Detroit has a lot of turmoil but our stores are signs of hope; customers walk into stores and are welcomed by a smiling face by the store owners who know their customers personally.” Steve also wanted to send a personal message to the retailers in attendance. “I want to thank store owners who do what you do to keep Detroit going,” Steve said.
The first speaker was Judy Jonna whose advice to the award recipients was L.O.V.E., and that with love all things are possible. “L, love, honor and be grateful for those who have supported, sacrificed, encouraged, taught you and stood by you. O is for own your words and to be true to your word, V is for values that will help insure your future success and E is for education that stays with you for life,” said Jonna.
Keynote speaker Earl Ishbia spoke next and talked about the importance of passion. He spoke to the scholarship recipients about why it’s important to be passionate about whatever the students choose to pursue in life. “The single most important element to a successful career, and life, is passion. Once you have passion for what you are doing, hard work, drive and a commitment to succeed comes very easily,” said Ishbia. “It’s been said that if you are passionate about what you are doing, you’ll feel you’ve never worked a day in your life,” Ishbia continued.
Following Ishbia’s speech, the students heard from Butch Hollowell, who found similarity between the students and the city. “You’re young and you’re on your way and, in many respects, I feel like that is about where we are in the City of Detroit,” said Hollowell.
Auday Arabo, the afternoon’s Master of Ceremonies, echoed Hollowell’s message about how important the city is and how it’s vital to remember your roots. “Detroit is very special to AFPD. This is where we were founded in 1910,” said Arabo. “We will never forget where we came from and we will always be a part of Detroit.”
Before the scholarships were awarded, Arabo reminded the attendees of the tragedy that struck scholarship recipient, Calvin Chao, who was in a boating accident earlier this month and passed away. AFPD extended its heartfelt condolences and sympathy to his family and dedicated the event to his memory.
This year’s location was significant for the scholarship luncheon as the event’s message reminded this year’s award winners that the City of Detroit continues to move forward in step with the bright future that is shared by each of the scholarship winners.
In total, $51,000 in scholarships were awarded this year to various students in Michigan and Ohio. With this year’s scholarships, the AFPD Foundation has distributed over $650,000 in scholarship funds to the employees and family members of member businesses, and their customers.
The Foundation’s scholarship program would not be possible without the support and generous contributions from various sponsors around the State of Michigan.
If you are interested in sponsoring a scholar for the 2016 event, please call Maegan Hesano at (800) 666-6233. Sign up today as a sponsor and help the AFPD Foundation invest in the Leaders of Tomorrow!