FORT LAUDERDALE — If one person’s story could inspire others to turn their lives around for the better, it is the parable of Rosalind Osgood.
Once a crack addict who lived on the streets and did jail time on drug-related charges, Osgood eventually entered rehab, earned master’s and doctorate degrees, and became an ordained minister at New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, where she works to help poor people.
Osgood is one of five South Floridians who will be honored April 16 at the 17th annual African-American Achievers awards ceremony.
The awards will celebrate exceptional African-American achievement in the areas of Arts and Culture, Business Entrepreneurship, Community Service and Education.
Presented by JM Family Enterprises, Inc., the Forbes-ranked 23rd largest privately held company in the United States, and its subsidiaries – Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC and JM Lexus, the event is a continuation of the vision of the company’s founder, the late Jim Moran.
“JM Family’s visionary founder, Jim Moran, began the African-American Achievers award to recognize those who unselfishly invest their time and talents toward building a stronger community,” said Colin Brown, president and CEO of the company, in an e-mail. “Continuing the event is a tribute to all our achievers, and hopefully inspires others to still work hard to improve our community.”
Other outstanding citizens who will be honored as achievers on April 16 include Charles Mills in the Arts and Culture category. Mills has been a medical illustrator for more than 20 years, and is most well known for “The Wall of History” in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Jim McKinley is the winner in the Business and Entrepreneurism category. McKinley is the president of McKinley Financial Services, Inc., one of the most successful minority-owned insurance agencies in the country.
Niara Sudarkasa is the winner in the Education category. She served as president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and is a consulting scholar at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale.
The Jerome Edmund Gray Youth Achiever will be named at the April 16 ceremony. Each year, a high school senior who qualifies for financial aid and has received admission to Florida State University receives a four-year, needs-based scholarship. The award is named after 1995 African American Achiever Jerome Edmund Gray, Esq., who died in 1997 at 38. Gray is remembered as an accomplished lawyer, volunteer and role model for students.
In addition to sharing the award winners’ stories of extraordinary contributions, JM Family and its subsidiaries will contribute $5,000 to each achiever’s charity of choice. Additionally, $500 will be donated to the charity whose nominee was selected as an achiever.
Total contributions to non-profit organizations will tally $22,000, aimed at further impacting the quality of lives in South Florida and abroad.
FIXING HER LIFE
Osgood, 43, a native and current resident of Fort Lauderdale, will receive the Community Service award because of her miraculous story of fixing her life and giving back to her community.
“It went from marijuana to cocaine to crack,” Osgood said about her abuse of drugs and alcohol that began at the age of 19. “I got to a point in the addiction where I was living on the streets.”
Osgood’s downward spiral occurred despite the fact that she had attended three and a half years of college at Florida A&M University.
She returned to her hometown to live life on her own terms.
“I was in a marriage,” Osgood said. “I would get clean and go back home. I believe God gave me my children to save my life.”
The first of Osgood’s children—Shennette —was born in 1988, followed by her other children, Anthony , 20, and Gabriel, 18.
Osgood stopped using illegal drugs for good on Dec. 1, 1989, she said. On Dec. 2, she began to pray for God to turn her situation around as her grandmother drove her back to Daytona Beach to face probation violation for failing to report to court after being arrested for cocaine possession on more than one occasion.
She was arrested more than once for cocaine possession. She failed to show up for court on one of those charges, leading to her arrest and two days in jail for probation violation.
Jail in Volusia County, her early release and return to rehabilitation at the Broward Addiction Recovery Centers and the unwavering faith of her grandmother were the miracles that Osgood needed to start anew, she said.
“At five years sober, I went back to school, and I just kept going,” Osgood said.
She earned an associate’s degree from what is now Broward College in 1996; a bachelor of science degree in administrative studies from Nova Southeastern University in 1998; a master’s degree in public administration from NSU in 1999; completed NSU’s doctoral program in public administration in 2002; and completed a master’s degree in divinity at New Orleans Baptist
Theological Seminary in 2007; all despite being diagnosed in the third grade with a learning disability.
“My grandmother would say, ‘That’s what they say, but the Lord says different,’” regarding her education.
Osgood became one of the first women to preach in the pulpit at New Mount Olive Baptist Church. She is also the president/CEO of Mount Olive
Development Corporation—a non-profit designed to revitalize urban communities, and “work with people who are the least, the lost and the left out,” she said.
She is also the founder of Women Reaching Women, a community-wide women’s ministry.
Osgood said she is acutely aware of the tremendous blessings God has granted her.
The African American Achievers Award is another recognition that she is proud of receiving because, she said, “when we live our lives in a manner in which it gives God glory, our success is rewarded in heaven and awarded on earth.’’
IF YOU GO
WHAT: African-American Achievers awards.
WHEN: Thursday, April 16 at 6:15 p.m.
WHERE: Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
CONTACT: Space is limited, and RSVPs are required. To RSVP for the event, log onto www.africanamericanachievers.com, or call toll free at 866-516-2497.
Tremene@Aol.comPhoto: Rev. Dr. Rosalind Osgood