Arlene Yates Honored during the 11th Annual Black Pearls Unsung Heroes Awards Banquet

by February 24, 2017
arlene Yates

Arlene Yates, the recipient of the 2016 Black Pearls Unsung Hero Award for Business

By Annie White

Arlene Yates, the recipient of the 2016 Black Pearls Unsung Hero Award for Business, is one of an elite group of eighty three women and five men from Northeastern North Carolina who have been honored by the Northeastern NC Section of the National Council of Negro Women during an eleven year period.  Mrs. Yates is an example of just how awesome the power within, willpower, sheer determination, hard work, and the decision to overcome difficulties truly are!

Arlene has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate that no woman, no person has to stay where they are in life.  They can go anywhere their imaginations can take them, break down any societal imposed barriers, and live any life that they choose if they are willing to work hard enough.

When Arlene was only a baby, her mother died in an automobile accident.  She and her six siblings were divided among family members who agreed to raise them.  Arlene and one brother were able to remain in Elizabeth City, North Carolina with a great aunt and uncle that she affectionately refers to as mom and dad. She was educated in the public schools of Pasquotank County, earning her high school diploma from Northeastern High School.

Shortly after graduating from high school, Arlene got married.  Finding herself in an abusive relationship, she escaped and resumed her education.  In 1985, Arlene earned her certification as a Nursing Assistant at College of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, NC.  Not satisfied with serving as a nursing assistant, she continued her education at ECPI, Virginia Beach, Virginia where she earned a degree in Computer Technology.  Her next certification was from Virginia Technical School in Phlebotomy.

In 2000, she graduated suma cum laude, from Tidewater Technical Institute with a Diploma in Practical Nursing and was awarded the McLeod Award for Academic Achievement.  Still not feeling self-actualized with these achievements; Mrs. Yates continues to seek new challenges and opportunities.

Although it appears to be a long time since the turn of the century, it has only been sixteen years! During the past thirteen years, Arlene has completely transformed her life.  Many of us are unwilling to change after we become established in one place.  In 2003, Arlene picked up her Elizabeth City roots, married the Honorable Fred Yates, Mayor, Town of Winfall, moved to Winfall, North Carolina and began a new life.  As First Lady, Mrs. Yates could have sat back and relished the life of being a first lady.  Instead, she dove into her new role wholehearted and took advantage of  opportunities to continue her education and contribute to society as both a role model and as a community leader.  In 2013, she graduated from Roanoke Theological Seminary in Elizabeth City, North Carolina and became even more immersed in her church and community.

Her thirst for learning appears to be unquenchable!  She has attended numerous trainnings, workshops and seminars in early childhood education and has served as Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of a Four Star, Licensed Early Childhood Center, The Learning Center of Perquimans County, for more than ten and a half years.  Currently, she is still in school, studying and preparing to become a Registered Nurse.

Arlene Yates is an active member of Melton Grove Missionary Baptist Church where she serves faithfully under the leadership of Rev. Alvin Boone, Pastor.  She is Chairperson of the Deaconess Ministry; a Sunday School Teacher, and member of the Hospitality Ministry.  Mrs. Yates has previously served as Chairperson of the Praise Dance Ministry (adult and children), as a teacher and as Youth Leader in the Children’s Church.

During the past eight years, Mrs. Yates has served as Chairperson (two years), Vice-Chairperson (two years) and member of the Board of Education of the Perquimans County School System.  She is a member of the Perquimans County NAACP, American Legion Auxiliary, and Order of the Eastern Star.

Mrs. Yates has a good heart – continuously seeking to make the world a better place for her family and for the Perquimans County Community.  She is an energetic young lady who has managed to work full-time, serve as a leader in her church and community, continue her education, raise her family, look out for the welfare of her mother, and take care of her home.  She and her husband, the Honorable Frederick Lee Yates, Mayor, Town of Winfall, are the parents of six children – Krusten, Gerald, Cyrelle, Fred, Donna, and Quinton; twenty-eight grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.  She is the daughter of Mrs. Mary Stokley and the late William Henry Stokley.  In addition to spending time with her family, Arlene enjoys fishing, cooking, and serving her church and community.

Active in a chapter of NCNW in New York, Lena Council called together a group of community women from Hertford, Elizabeth City and the surrounding areas in 1997 and formed a section of NCNW that serves several counties in Northeastern North Carolina.  The Black Pearls Unsung Hero Awards Dinner was initiated eleven years ago to honor women who have worked diligently to carry out the platform of NCNW for the purpose of changing lives rather than for recognition.  This year, a media category was added for the first time with Barbara Ciara, Anchor of WTKR News Channel Three, selected as its first honoree.   Under the leadership of President, Carlotta Waddler and Black Pearls Co-Chairpersons, Brenda Little,  and Debbie Woolridge., eight women were honored during the 11th Annual Awards Ceremony.  They were Catherine Bartlett Bunch, the Arts; Brenda Little, Sisterhood; Linda Brumsey-Moore, Leadership; Gloria Banks Thomas, Education; Kayla BreAnn Welch, Youth; Patricia Ann White, Community and Arlene Yates, Business.

Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and political leader, (1875-1955) founded the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) in 1935 as an “organization of organizations” to represent national and international concerns of Black women. NCNW’s platform included and continues to include a fight for jobs, equitable pay, the right to vote and anti-lynching legislation. It provided and continues to afford Black women the opportunity to realize their goals for social justice and human rights through united, constructive action. Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, the only woman serving in the Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  Civil Rights Committee,  led NCNW for 50 years, securing its legacy of enlightened leadership and influence.

Ingrid Saunders Jones, retired executive from Coca Cola, Inc. of Atlanta, Ga. is the present National President.  The organization includes 38 National Affiliates Organizations, 184 Community Based Sections and 63 Campus Based Collegiate Sections, 29 Youth Sections and 15 State Coalition Sections.    It owns its NCNW headquarters building at 633 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC, situated between the White House and US Capital. •

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