Holmes true to form in accepting lifetime award
By St. Clair Murraine Outlook staff writer
Despite obviously being overcome by the moment, Rev. R.B. Holmes didn’t step out of his element during his acceptance speech after receiving the biggest honor presented by Leadership Tallahassee.
Holmes was presented the organization’s Lifetime Leadership Award in front of a packed University Center Club on FSU’s campus this past Thursday night. The award was one of four given to individuals for their contributions to the quality of life as pacesetters, leaders and servants.
While the other winners were selected from fields that included as many as four nominees, Holmes was the lone choice for the top honor, said Barbara Boone, executive director of Leadership Tallahassee.
“We wanted to be timely with these selections and we couldn’t think of a better person at this time to be our lifetime leadership recipient,” Boone said.
When it was his turn to speak, Holmes naturally took the moment to thank a throng of supporters who showed up from his Bethel Missionary Baptist Church congregation, his family and friends.
He called the award a “profound and moving tribute.”
“You can’t do this without strong family and a strong church family,” Holmes said. “I’m honored and humbled to be recognized by this great community as a leader to receive this lifetime leadership award. I’ve read the names of the persons who also received this high honor. I’m not so certain that I deserve to be in the same room with these outstanding persons.”
Then, he went on to deliver a mini sermon on passion – as if he wanted his audience to know how he has had a profound affect in several areas from business development to several social and civic issues.
“Purpose is necessary; know your goals; know your aim and with that purpose have that passion,” Holmes said. “Be determined to do this because you love the Lord, you love your family and you love your community.
“Once you have that passion and you have perseverance you will never give up. You will never quit. You will get up because you have your purpose, your passion and you understand your process of perseverance. You just have to keep at it.”
That essentially has been Holmes’ style during the three decades that he’s been Pastor at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. A mini capsule of how he has affected change in the community was presented in a 12-minute video that featured his wife, Gloria, and other members of his congregation.
The video delivered Holmes’ story with details nothing short of what might be seen on Grammy night.
It began with Holmes’ wife telling how his first congregation was made up of his siblings when he was a boy growing up in Jacksonville. Others spoke about his vision to redevelop Frenchtown and his involvement in bringing Envision and FSU credit unions together.
The audience also heard testimonials that included his sometimes controversial stance and his effort to make sure that Second Harvest remained opened when it was threatened with closure.
Holmes’ life is one worth emulating, said attorney Carolyn Cummings.
“If you look at his life and how he touches the life of so many individuals, young and old; it encourages me to do what I can on a smaller scale,” she said. “I can’t be like him but I can certainly try to maintain the integrity, moral values (and) the care for others that he demonstrates on a daily basis.”
Holmes’ work goes far beyond the pulpit. He led the initiative to get water to Flint, Michigan, earlier this year. He’s also took the lead on developing businesses around his church on Martin Luther King Blvd., including the Bethel Christian Academy, a counseling center, Carolina
Oaks sub-division for first-time home owners and Bethel Towers, a home for senior citizens.
Holmes also was front and center of an effort to help get justice for the family of Barbara Dawson, who died after she was forced out of the Liberty Calhoun County Hospital.
He is well known for his work around the country, serving as president of the National Baptist Congress of Christan Education, the Tallahassee Chapter of the National Action Network, as well as being founder of the National Save the Family Now Network.
“I’ve always been high energy,” Holmes said. “I’ll keep moving forward and doing what I feel I need to do to make this a better place; a better community, a better country, and a better world.”
Other recipients Thursday night included Matt Thompson, owner of Madison Social, who took the Leadership Pacesetter. He was recognized for being a trail blazer for others to follow by engaging in community leadership activities – and achieving clear results – as a newcomer to Tallahassee or in a non-traditional field.
Jeff Phipps, operator of Orchard Pond, LLC, took the Leader of the Year Award for individuals whose ideas and vision have achieved significant benefits to the community within the past year.
The Servant Leadership Award went to attorney Mary Pankowski, owner of the law office of Mary Pankowski. According to Leadership Tallahassee’s criteria, she has demonstrated consistent community leadership and achieved results beyond a single field of endeavors, combining efforts in business and non-profit organizations.