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by: COURTESY OF REAP - Thursday's Men of Legacy honorees offered advice and encouragement to Portland-area young people during a Rose Garden luncheon.The nonprofit group Reaching and Empowering All People Inc., or REAP, has worked to forge bonds between hopeful Portland-area youth and successful adults for about 12 years now.

It’s a noble cause, said Mark Jackson, REAP president. And on Thursday afternoon, the group honored five area people who have helped “get the emerging generation to see what’s possible, and the older generation to give back and reach forward.”

“It’s about creating a window into the future, while also creating synergy with the career arena, the adult pros who can affirm success,” he said.

During a luncheon ceremony at the Rose Garden’s Rose Room, REAP honored five “Men of Legacy”: Billy Flowers, a Portland chiropractor for more than 27 years; Donnie McPherson, a longtime wrestling coach and mentor; Tom Hughes, president of the Metro Council and former Hillsboro mayor; Dalton Miller-Jones, a retired Portland State psychology professor and African-Amercan activist; Robert Pamplin Jr., businessman, philanthropist, historical preservationist and owner of Pamplin Media Group (which includes the Portland Tribune).

In addition, Portland entrepreneur Roy Jay was given the “Pioneer Award” for his work in the community.

‘Access, options and possibilities’

The theme of Thursday’s Men of Legacy luncheon was youth bettering themselves through work and doing the right things, as all the speakers had words of advice for the scores of Portland-area students who attended. Jackson said REAP works with about 200 students each year, and hopes to reaches more.

Some of the highlights:

• Flowers referenced the “turtle on the fencepost” parable in explaining that young people should always credit others for helping them in their achievements.

• Said McPherson: “I learned early on not to disappoint my mother, not to embarrass my mother.” McPherson married his high school sweetheart 43 years ago and vowed that he would be there for his wife and children — “I was going to make sure that no other man would raise my children,” he said. Another piece of advice: “Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”

• Hughes encouraged youth to “stifle the naysayers” through actions. He said that achievement isn’t all about talent, citing words from Ad Rutschman, former Hillsboro High and Linfield College football coach, who told players that it was about “how you play, how smart you play and what you bring to the mission,” Hughes said.

• Miller-Jones said success can be found through “access, options and possibilities.”

• Pamplin praised REAP’s mission because it accentuates “the love of mankind.” He added: “The whole community of life belongs to us. Everyone counts in this world, no matter their status.”

• Jay grew up in Columbia Villa, a young boy who stuttered and who feared going to school. He overcame, thanks to advice from his mother: “Put more in your head than on your head.”

Thursday’s keynote speaker, Mike Richardson, founder of Dark Horse Comics and Dark Horse Entertainment, told the audience that he decided early in his adulthood that “I wanted to choose a profession that I loved,” that being saddled with a 9-to-5 job in an office wasn’t for him, “no matter how much money was involved.”

He also encouraged youth not to sell themselves short, that success wasn’t for the pre-ordained, that an individual with passion, vision, intelligence and work ethic could prevail. “I’m living proof,” Richardson said.

Equity in mind

Also during the luncheon, six men on a panel shared insight into what has made them successful:

• Police Chief Mike Reese, who grew up in North Portland and attended Roosevelt High, said, “I really want to give back to kids in the community, and be a mentor.”

• Frank Garcia, who works in Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office, said his life has been a series of “being the first” — the first in his family to graduate from high school, college and with a masters, the first Latino serving in the governor’s office — and “I had to overcome my own self-doubt.”

• Rod Underhill, Multnomah County’s new district attorney, said that his family stuck by his once-troubled brother, evidence that “compassion and love does prevail.”

• Mike Sears, of construction management firm Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., once wondered, “Who’s accountable to me for my future?” The answer: “It dawned on me: that’s me.”

• Dr. William Johnson, of insurer ODS Companies, encourages young people to “do the best you can, work as hard as you can — no matter the environment.”

As the nation marks Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 21, panelists also passed on their understandings of King’s teachings. Underhill urged young people to share themselves with the “precious resource” of time. Sears said giving back could be rewarding.

Garcia quoted King: “Injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” in adding that “everybody deserves respect and dignity.”

Reese concurred, saying he asks Portland police to serve with “equity” in mind.

Mike Lewellen, a Portland Trail Blazers executive and another panelist, encourages youth to heed Dr. King’s non-violent preachings. “You can resolve conflict without resorting to guns, to violence,” he said.

Previous “Men of Legacy” honorees were Bishop A.A. Wells, Vancouver Full Gospel; J.E. Isaac, Trail Blazers; Dr. Edward Ward, dentist; Gregg Kantor, NW Natural Gas CEO/president; Dr. George Brown, Legacy Health CEO/president; Sho Dozono, Azumano Travel, chief executive officer and president; Matthew Prophet, retired superintendent; the late Rob Ingram, city executive; Ron Herndon, National Head Start Association; and, Sam Brooks, S. Brooks & Associates founder.

REAP’s next event will be the “Women of Legacy” luncheon, noon to 1:30 p.m. April 19 at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. Two more events are scheduled this year: “Challenge: Academy of Innovation,” Aug. 26 to 30, Portland State University; “Evening of Empowerment Dinner,” Sept. 26, DoubleTree by Hilton Portland.

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