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This year’s Hardin County NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet saw two changes in guest speakers a month before the event, which led the group to Joyce Hamilton, one of the founders of The Lord’s Supper soup kitchen in Radcliff.
The leaders and visitors who gathered Saturday evening at Fort Knox’s Saber & Quill said they enjoyed Hamilton’s talk and thought the event was a success.
Officials had been planning until mid-August for Eleanor Jordan, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, to speak during the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual event.
When Jordan had to back out for health reasons, interim NAACP Hardin County Branch President Donna Smalls announced Terriance Hamilton, co-founder of the soup kitchen, would be the speaker.
When Terriance Hamilton learned the evening’s theme was “becoming a better me,” he suggested his wife would have more moving words on the topic, Smalls said.
Terriance introduced his wife at the banquet, saying she is one of the strongest and most accomplished women he has ever known.
Joyce Hamilton talked about how she was born a fighter.
She said she was untouched in a New York City home where her sisters had children by their father.
“I was bathed in the blood from the very beginning,” she said.
Joyce Hamilton said she worked hard to get good grades and early on earned college credits that qualified her to transcribe dictation. She wasn’t satisfied with that and took classes to become a court reporter.
That dream came to an end when she became pregnant by a man Joyce said she thought was her knight in shining armor. The relationship became abusive, she said.
The man threatened her family when Hamilton went to stay with her mother, she said.
Her mother told her she had to leave the house when she didn’t stop seeing the man.
“People say they don’t know how women in that kind of situation keep going back,” she said. “I did not know how to get out.”
Hamilton found herself homeless and then scraping by with the help of welfare benefits until she considered joining the U.S. Army.
That’s when she found the long-term career that saw her quickly propelled to leadership positions.
“You’re going to give me three hots and a cot, and you’re going to pay me? Sign me up,” she said.
It wasn’t easy to raise her four children by herself, get her finances in order and put her life back on track, things she couldn’t do until she allowed God to work in her life, she said.
After years of letting God change her, he brought her a quality husband and a mission to help people in the community through the soup kitchen, she told the audience.
Hamilton’s story was real and inspiring, and many attendees complimented her, Smalls said.
“I thought she was really encouraging,” Smalls said. “I thought her incorporating her life story with ‘becoming a better me’ was awesome.”
Fellow New York City native Schelequia Davis, who now lives in Elizabethtown, said she loved hearing Joyce’s testimony.
“I thought it was awesome,” she said. “I love Ms. Hamilton.”
Schelequia and her husband, Shawn, were attending the banquet for the first time.
Shawn Davis also enjoyed hearing Joyce speak. He was also glad to see people who work hard throughout the year for the NAACP and the community be recognized.
“We just wanted to get the experience and support the organization,” he said.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.