Deeb: Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly gave back to Detroit kids

Most people are unaware that, in addition to prominent athletes and community leaders who annually participated in Metro Detroit Youth Day held at Belle Isle, it included singers and community activists Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly and Martha Reeves.

They also appeared regularly at the annual spiritual prayer breakfast ceremony held annually to kick off the Youth Day event. Barnes-Kennerly or Reeves would alternate taking turns singing the national anthem or a spiritual song. Often they appeared together.

Both Barnes-Kennerly and Reeves were members of the board of the Michigan Youth Appreciation Foundation which produces the annual youth event that draws thousands of youngsters to the athletic field.

The annual Youth Day event, held each July, takes almost a year to prepare. We are blessed to have thousands of volunteers, including Reeves and Barnes-Kennerly, to lend a helping hand and assist with the entertainment on stage.

As chairman of the Detroit Public Schools Alumni Association, I was aware that Barnes-Kennerly attended Detroit Northwestern High School and Cass Tech. They lost a great community activist, and alumnus.

Though our board is saddened by her passing, the foundation decided to establish the Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly College Scholarship to help remind us of the good works done by our sister Ortheia. The first one will be presented July 15 at the 33rd annual Metro Detroit Youth Day on Belle Isle.

Edward Deeb,

founder and chairman, Metro Detroit Youth Day