Blessings in a Backpack Promotions by UWW Committee Members: Dan Durkin, Juliann O'Brien, Jonathan Warshay and Barbara Moretsky
"Give Us Hope," West Bloomfield Middle School & Lakes Online Middle School Combined Choirs, John Diererlein, Director
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Remarks
MLK Art, Lizzie White, 10th Grader, WBHS
Jill Bickford, Coordinator of Youth Services, West Bloomfield Township Public Library, Announcing MLK Day WBTPL Events
"Blackbird" by Beatles, Flutist, Adi Mizrahi, WBHS Senior
Art, Second Grade Lakers Online Students, Teacher, Mrs. Mary Takata
"Let Us Walk In Peace," West Bloomfield Middle School Choir, Viking Voices Blue Choir, Mrs. April Tini, Director
Lamar Crowder, President, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Iota Rho Lambda Chapter of Oakland County, Remarks
Art, First Grade and Second Grade Lakers Online Students, Teacher, Mrs. Mary Takata
"Amazing Grace," French Horn, Abby Freitag, WBHS Student
Renee Floer, President, Rotary Club of West Bloomfield, Remarks. The Rotary Club of West Bloomfield donated pantry items to Blessings in a Backpack
Anjali Natarajan of West Bloomfield Interact Club, Remarks
Guest Speaker of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Dr. Todd Jenkins, Founder & CEO of Bowtie Leadership Development, Inc.
Special Presentation of 25th Anniversary Certificate of Special Senatorial Recognition from Senator Gary Peters and Signature Community Recognition Award by United We Walk via Jennifer Graham to Dr. Gerald Hill and the West Bloomfield School District.
Hadassah - Greater Detroit donated scarves to Blessings in a Backpack.
Pine Hill Congregational Church delivered over 100 cans of tuna/chicken and 100 boxes of macaroni and cheese as their contribution to Blessings in a Backpack.
Jonathan Warshay and Jennifer Graham received for the 2021 United We Walk event the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) grant of $500.00 for hosting a 2021 MLK National Day of service project.
The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Iota Lambda Chapter, donated $1,000.00 to Blessings in a Backpack earning the World Leader Champion Level of Giving for United We Walk for 2021.
Student Co-Chairs: Marcus Brooks, Nicholas Foster, Malcolm Moye, and Sara Nirenberg
Adult Co-Chairs: David Flaisher, Rev. Chris Richards, and Regina Strong
22nd World Leader: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Keynote Speaker: David Merritt, WBHS Class of 2004, Merit/FATE, Straight Gate International Church of Detroit and West Bloomfield
Community Leader 5th Recipient: Brian Flaggs
2013 Commemorative Button Winner: Rishabh Parekh, 7th Grader, Orchard Lake Middle School
Oratory/Written Expression Winner: Rishabh Parekh, 7th Grader, Orchard Lake Middle School
WBHS Orchestra, Mrs. Linda Trotter, Director
WBHS Chamber Choir, Mrs. Sheryl Hauk, Director
Combined Choirs of OLMS, Mrs. April Tini, Director
Legacy Dance Studio, LLC, Mrs. Crystall Winkler, Director
"Block by Block" Diversity Group
WBHS Jazz Band, Chad Mielens, Director
WBHS Winter Drumline, Chad Mielens and Karl Stein, Directors
"Lift Every Voice and Sing": Ameerah Shakoor
Marco Antonio Photography
Visual Fantasies Balloons
West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation - Hot Chocolate Refreshments
Community Dinner: West Bloomfield Clergy Association, Whole Foods Market of West Bloomfield, Al Oumara, El Nibble Nook, Greek Islands Coney Restaurant, Beans & Cornbread, Sonja James, and West Bloomfield African American Parent Association
Theme: Challenged By the Dream: Beyond the Differences
Student Co-Chairs: Lauren Gaines and Jasmine Patton
Adult Co-Chairs: Stuart Brickner, Debbie Macon, and Shelley Willner
Keynote Speaker: Michigan Attorney General, Jennifer Granholm
2000 alumnus, Candace Johnson, joined by 1999 graduate and singer, Carmen Woodruff, return to perform "We Are One" and "We Are The World"
School outreach extends to Wayne County with the addition of Allen Park High School
Cranbrook Peace Foundation awards its Expanding the Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., grant award to United We Walk - its first major grant. A year-long lecture series, leadership development activities and new outreach and communications tools are planned as a result.
Abbott Middle School-Stages directed by Deborah Zazaian
Allen Park High School Jazz Band directed by Kristi Kruger
Avondale High School Choir directed by Kevin Cornwell
Senior Candace Johnson writes and performs United We Walk's second original song, "We Are One" along with WBHS Choir under direction of Tim Schoenherr
Organizers take the year's theme literally by inviting schools from across Oakland County to participate: Berkley H.S./ Norup Middle School, Birmingham Groves H. S., Birmingham Seaholm H.S., Farmington H.S., Hazel Park H.S., Royal Oak Dondero H.S., Walled Lake Central H.S., Walled Lake Western H.S., etc.
Orchard Lake Road. is completely closed to traffic for a new 1.5 mile walk loop between Green and Walnut Lake Roads
Abbott Middle School Choir under the direction of John Dierlein
One mile Walk from Orchard Lake Middle School to West Bloomfield High School
Free shuttle service provided by General Motors
Complimentary Continental Breakfast after Walk at WBHS
Harpist, Onita Sanders, provides pre-program entertainment in auditorium.
Keynote Speakers: Rev. Wilma Johnson of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Father William Murphy of Our Lady of Refuge Church, and Rabbi Norman Roman of Temple Kol Ami
Gordon Bleich, Green Elementary School Music Teacher, directs a combined fifth grade choir of students from Doherty, Ealy, Green, Scotch, and Roosevelt, which provides the entertainment for the program.
Program Songs: "He Had a Dream," We Shall Overcome," "America's Our Home," and Finale: "We Are the World"
General Chair: Hertha Woodruff, Assistant General Chair: Beth Borson
The first United We Walk event took place on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 16, 1995, at Orchard Lake Middle School and at West Bloomfield High School. Orchard Lake Road sidewalks served as the first Walk path from Orchard Lake Middle School to West Bloomfield High School. General Motors provided shuttle service. There were walk monitors along the Walk path.
A complimentary brunch took place prior to the Program in the West Bloomfield High School Cafeteria with entertainment provided by the WBHS Jazz Band under the direction of Carl Battishill.
Keynote Speakers: Rabbi Joshua Bennett, Temple Israel, Bishop Andrew Merritt, Straight-Gate Church, Rev. Frederick Johnson, Covenant Baptist Church
Orchard Lake Middle School/Abbott Middle School Vocal Ensemble under the direction of Paulette Apkarian and Rita Jury provided entertainment during the program by singing: "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and by performing "We Are The World" as the musical finale.
United We Walk's 1st Planning Committee: Hertha Woodruff, Beth Borson, Sheryl Johnson, Denise Kelley, Shirley Barksdale, Brian Kaplan, Sharkey Haddad, Tom Stimmel, Mano Yono, Diane Venn, Pamela Bentley, Lance Davis, Nancy Gavoor, Esther Small, Shelley Willner, Judy Canosa, Elaine Schonberger, Margo Edwards, Debbi Yono, Ann Allen, Polly Friend, Charlene Mitchell-Rodgers, Joan Groves, Kwai-Fong Tse, Debbie Macon, Beauty Ovbije-Onomake, Andrew Groen, Diane Ferguson, Esther Peterson, Ida Goutman, Fran Denawetz, Katherine Sheiko, Ernie Robinson, Carla Jones, Ken Gutman, and Marsha Tucker.
Orchard Lake Middle School of the West Bloomfield School District in West Bloomfield, Michigan, is the birthplace of the United We Walk event.
Parents who were members of the Multicultural Awareness Committee of Orchard
Lake Middle School, led by committee chair, Charlene Mitchell-Rodgers, and
committee secretary, Diane Ferguson, proposed to the West Bloomfield School
Board in February 1994 that the West Bloomfield School District observe the Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday, by closing its district schools, beginning the
following year in 1995. The West Bloomfield School Board unanimously approved
the proposal. In October 1994, the Multicultural Awareness Committee co-chair,
Hertha Woodruff, United We Walk Founder, proposed that a multicultural community
walk and event be held at Orchard Lake Middle School and West Bloomfield High
School on the upcoming Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., holiday on Monday, January 16,
1995, when school would not be in session. Esther Peterson, principal of Orchard
Lake Middle School, endorsed the proposal. Dr. Seymour Gretchko, superintendent
of the West Bloomfield School District, approved it upon the request from Polly
Friend, assistant superintendent of the West Bloomfield School District.
The original design of the United We Walk logo used for the first event was created
by Orchard Lake Middle School students: Kinyel Ferguson and Crystal Roberson.
Multicultural Awareness Committee member, Mano Yono, selected navy and gold as
the event colors for 1995 and produced souvenir buttons for the event with the
United We Walk navy and gold student logo. Mel Farr Automotive Group served as
the sponsor for the souvenir buttons and General Motors provided shuttle service
vans for the walk between Orchard Lake Middle School and West Bloomfield High
School. General Motors' vans were made possible by General Motors' executive,
Chris Johnson. Multicultural Awareness Committee member and West Bloomfield
School District Community Liaison, Sharkey Haddad, named West Bloomfield's Dr.
Martin L. King, Jr., diversity, celebratory event, United We Walk.
Sign was designed by United We Walk committee members, Lou and Ida Goutman.