Las Amigas, Inc., a national, African American women’s public service organization, held its 59th Annual Conclave in Charlotte June 26-30. The conclave, which was hosted by the Mooresville Chapter and the Southwest Region, brought members together embracing the convention theme of “Connecting and Renewing Our Commitment for Greater Service in Our Communities.”

Members convened at the meeting not only to conduct Las Amigas, Inc. business, but to also hold a public town hall, award scholarships and give recognition for public service to residents of the local/area community and visiting points of historical interest.

On June 29, Las Amigas, Inc. held its Dora R. Mason Awards luncheon at the Hilton Charlotte University Place Hotel with George Dunlap, chair Mecklenburg County Commissions, district 3, serving as the keynote speaker. The main purpose of this luncheon was to give recognition to the scholarship recipients, members who have served the organization and community service and humanitarian awards.

Award recipients were Barbara Johnson, who received the Community Service award and the Rev. Kevin Little Sr. who received the Humanitarian award.

Barbara Johnson is a native of Mooresville and graduate of Mooresville High School. While at Mooresville High, she excelled as an athlete and was selected All-Conference in basketball, softball, volleyball and track and field. Johnson earned a basketball scholarship to attend Pfeiffer University, where she graduated cum laude with a sociology degree in 1989. While continuing her education, she also played basketball, volleyball and softball.

Johnson returned to Mooresville, where she served as a teacher assistant and coached basketball, softball, volleyball and track and field from 1989-1996 for the Mooresville Graded School District. Her standout career as an athlete and coach earned her one of the first spots in the Mooresville High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. She has worked for the town of Mooresville Parks and Recreation Department for 23 years in the position of recreation supervisor at the Winnie Hooper Center, which has received Partnership Awards for multiple years. Johnson has proven to be a mentor, provider, encourager and a role model to everyone she meets.

Johnson said, “I use the talents that God has given me. I believe in investing in my community. My passion is to empower people and make a difference in their lives.”

Johnson was the first African American elected to serve on the Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education serving from 2003-2007.

Johnson has received numerous awards including being recognized as a Family Support Champion for Championing Better Beginnings for the Youth in Iredell County by the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children, a Lake Norman Women of Will finalist, the Community Change Agent Award presented by Lake Norman Christian Outreach, the Community Service Award from the Mooresville Chapter Las Amigas, Inc., a Paul Harris Fellow by the Top of the Lake Rotary Club and the Sara Haire Tice Leadership Award from the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce.

Johnson is a member of Campbell Missionary Baptist Church. She is married to Tollis Johnson, Jr., and they have four children, Tollis Isaiah Johnson, 26 (Livingstone College graduate); Shirley, 21 (Livingstone College); Samuel, 19 (Marquette University) and Jayda, 14 (rising ninth grader at Mooresville High school).

Rev. Kevin Little Sr. has served in multiple capacities. In 1996 he began serving as a mentor for the Gatlin Juvenile Detention Center, which was run by the Mecklenburg County Justice System in Huntersville. He served there for 12 years mentoring youth ages 11 through 18 before the facility was closed in 2009. During that time, he joined Big Brothers/Big Sisters in April of 1997 and served there for five years.

In 2001, Little felt the call to ministry, and on Jan. 13 of that year, he administered his trial sermon at Bethesda A.M.E. Zion Church, Mooresville, under the leadership of the Rev. Anthony Cannon. He went into conference studies in 2004 at Weeping Willow A.M.E. Zion Church, where he completed three years of study. On May 29, 2004 he received his local preaching license of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at District Conference held at Caldwell Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Mt. Mourne, and completed his leadership training at Livingstone College.

In 2007, Little stepped away from Zion in good standings and entered a relationship for ministry as he and his wife Mary of 24 years, along with family and friends began a new church, New City House of Praise. Along the way, he completed his associate’s degree in industrial maintenance at Mitchell Community College, while serving the community in which he was charged to keep.

In 2016, Little received his bachelor’s degree in technical management/concentration criminal justice at DeVry University at the South Charlotte campus. He is currently employed at Goodwill Northwest North Carolina as an employment specialist, project re-entry coordinator, serving individuals with barriers in their lives. He conducts workshops educating these same individuals upon the need along with any releases from incarceration. He also attends Caldwell Correction in Lenoir, conducting a 16-week class bridging the gap from incarceration to community success.

In December 2016, Little received his certificate of chaplaincy for the position as a volunteer chaplain for the Mooresville Police Department, and he was sworn in on Jan. 17, 2016 at the Mooresville town hall.

Little has served in the communities of Iredell, Catawba, Burke and Caldwell counties for more than 20 years combined and stands the scripture of Galatians 2:20, which says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me!”

Service awards were presented to members of the Mooresville Chapter. These were: Phyllis Alexander, 10 year; Mildred Phifer 15 year; Betty Miller, 40 year; Beatrice Spaulding, 40 year; and Sadie Thompson, 45 year.

The organization has a national book initiative whereby chapters bring books to the annual conclave to be given to a school in the host chapter’s city. The Mooresville chapter selected Park View Elementary as the recipient of more than 300 books.

Empowered, dedicated, and steadfast in their commitment to public service, Las Amigas, Incorporated – ‘the friends’ – convenes annually to further the organization’s programmatic thrusts of education, family, health, political awareness, and economic development.

Las Amigas, Inc. was founded in 1957 in Charlotte by the late Dora R. Mason and Mary Q. Moore. The mission is to enhance the quality of life and promote the general improvement of the communities in which Las Amigas serves and to encourage personal and professional growth and foster a close relationship among members.

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