ATLANTIC CITY – Atlantic County will honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at its 32nd annual birthday commemoration 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18 at the Atlantic County office building, 1333 Atlantic Ave. The ceremony will feature the presentation of the Community Spirit award to Shalanda Austin of Atlantic City. Austin is an outstanding resident who exemplifies King’s principles through her involvement in the community and improving the the lives of her fellow citizens.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony and celebrate the memory, inspiration and powerful life lessons of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Ms. Austin may not yet be well known to all because she has quietly worked to make a difference in our community without expectation or need of personal recognition,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said. “She is truly one of our unsung heroes. It is for that reason that I am proud to honor her with this award in the name of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who embodied humility. As he once said, ‘Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.’”
Austin is a lifelong resident of Atlantic City. She graduated from Atlantic Cape Community College with an associate degree in criminal justice in 2005 and earned a bachelor degree in political science from Stockton University in 2008. She is currently working towards her master’s degree.
She was called into the ministry after college and in 2009 was nominated Christian Woman of the Year by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Atlantic City chapter. Austin founded In My C.A.R.E. Mentoring Program in 2015 to provide services for at-risk girls ages 8 to 18 and help coach them through life’s challenges and journeys. Austin recently launched two additional programs for young boys in Atlantic City and Pleasantville as well as Mentors Meet, a mentoring network designed to connect local and national youth leaders.
Austin is employed by the Atlantic City Board of Education but can also be found teaching gospel at a local senior citizen’s facility and administering encouragement and prayer to the weary at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and Oscar McClinton Park. She is also the author of a 40-day devotional and prayer journal. Her desire is to be a vehicle of change for the community.
The keynote address will be presented by Rev. Latasha D. Milton, senior pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in Atlantic City.