Before I begin, I want to acknowledge my mother, Rosalyn Lampkin whom I adore. For her 36 years of service with our armed forces. Four of which were with the Navy and thirty-two with the Department of Army. (Applause)
So, when it comes to mom, many of you know that feeling when you’re about to get whipped if I don’t get this right. So I can already feel the pressure. (Laughter)
I’d first like to start off by thanking the committee for nominating me for this award. Particularly Captain Ernest Bille for looking at the work I had done. But I feel like the committee are really the lucky ones. The reason is because, as we are living in a world and in a country where we’re looking for inspiration, for hope. As they are going through the applications I’m pretty sure they’re realizing there are a lot of law enforcement officers and firefighters who are out there doing the good work despite all the noise that is being made today.
I would first like to start off by quoting sister Joan Chisiter who said in her book, ‘The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage,’ there are two types of prophets. She describes the first one as someone who gives alms to the poor. When someone is hungry, you give them food. When someone is in need of money, you give them change. And we call these individuals saints. And they are certainly needed. But then there is the second kind of prophet. The second prophet does everything that the first prophet does but also, instead of addressing the inequities in society, they try to address the causes of those inequities.
I’m reminded of the story of Jesus on his trip to Galilee where he made it to the Pool of Bethesda and realized there was a man sitting there who had been sick for over 38 years. And everybody knew that when the water began to flow in the pool that if anyone who was sick got in, they would be healed. And for those of you who know the story, you know Jesus approached the man and asked him, “Why have you not gotten into the water? Do you not want to be healed?” Jesus was simply asking a question about why the man was experiencing inequity. And the man said, “But Jesus, every time I get ready to enter the pool someone always beats me to it. If only I had someone to carry me.” Jesus then said to the man, “Pick up your mat and walk.” and instantly, the man was healed.
Many of you have read my biography and saw that outside of this uniform, I am deeply engaged in community service. But I want to be clear that holding these various titles is simply a matter of showing up for people no matter the circumstance. It’s a reflection of my character and who we are as law enforcement officers. Many of you know we’ve had a rough decade filled with protests, violence toward law enforcement, and even calls to defund our obligations. This is long after the people who call upon us have asked that we do more with less and take on responsibilities that are not the primary function of law enforcement.
People think I’m joking when I say I have five jobs. Aside from serving as a non-profit organizer, I am the first Black City Planning Commissioner for the City of Ontario, a Healthcare CEO, and a Board member of a Disaster Recovery organization and a separate Scholarship Foundation. I wear many hats. But that also means I am unrecognizable to those who have a dislike for law enforcement officers.
Because sometimes when you’re in the trenches of life, you can become unrecognizable because you’re faced with a lot of obstacles and circumstances. But it is the character of who you are that makes you go through the trenches to get to the other side of war.
Now let me be clear. Our profession is not without flaws. Some people in the midst of war do questionable things that don’t allow them to show their faces in public because sometimes they’ll go over to the other side because they are unsure of themselves. But when you understand whose side you’re on and what side you’re fighting for; you’re fighting for truth and justice and righteousness; you can fight with a surety knowing that even if I don’t come out of this alive, my character is still intact.
In the trenches, you are unrecognizable because your face is marred and scared by dust sweat and blood. People don’t know who you are when you are in the trenches. They only recognize you by the uniform you are wearing. But it is the character of who you are that stands out. And that is why sometimes when you are in the midst of a trench field situation, you can come out smelling like a rose. Sometimes we have to do some things that circumstances required us to do, including leaving some people dead on the field. But because I recognize my character and who I was fighting for…
And this is why I don’t like when people in the U.S. began speaking ill about our nation’s veterans and law enforcement officers who had to fight for our freedoms
One minute you could be talking to a fellow soldier discussing strategy and the next minute he could be dead beside you, but you’re still in the trenches. You have the stench of death all around you but you still have to do your job and do your service in the trenches. And when you come off the battlefield of war, let the people eat cake. After you have won the war, people who had never been on the battlefield often cheer “We won!” All the while, they have not shot one bullet, had one fight, encountered any danger, because someone else did the fighting for them. Isn’t that interesting? “We won.” But you’re able to live off of the effervescence of the aroma of victory because somebody else was in the trenches.
But I digress. Because i’m supposed to be talking about my work as a non-profit leader. The D’Andre D. Lampkin Foundation is a 501(c)(3), state and federal tax-exempt organization that promotes community resilience. But resilience alone is not enough. We also promote community engagement, which is the active participation of community members in the decisions and actions that shape our community. This means listening to each other, sharing our ideas, and working collaboratively to find solutions to the issues that affect us all. When we engage with our community in this way, we create a sense of ownership and responsibility that strengthens our bonds and makes us more invested in the success of our community.
In the first 5 years we have:
- Narrowed our mission statement down to reflect the timeless need for civic engagement, and opened our headquarters office in Ontario, California. Which now consists of 4800 square feet of community workspace.
- Hired our first employee, Andrew Gerardo, who has now been with us for close to 3 years.
- Sustain a food pantry for 3 years thanks to the help of sponsorship from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Amazon, and Transitional Works Solutions
- Partnered with local businesses to develop a Return to Work program for local residents who are temporarily suspended from work due to workers comp injuries but have a strong desire to give back to their community rather than stay at home at a reduced wage.
- Rally volunteers to contribute over 43,000 volunteer hours throughout the nation
- Supported over 3900 families through our DNA Initiative and Food Pantry
- Provide 17 University Scholarships to students who are already living their life in a way that reflects our organization’s mission
- And responded to 6 Natural Disasters, including the Los Angeles area Woosley Fire where we rebuilt over 50 dwelling units in 3 years’ time, the Francis incident in Ontario where we negotiated cost and wrote checks for temporary hotel stays, child car seats, boarding up of windows, and temporary food assistance.
Together we gave residents hope, addressed short-term and immediate needs, and established a COAD (Community Organizations Active In Disaster) to provide a holistic approach to helping residents who didn’t know where to turn following the fireworks explosions and natural disasters.
Thanks to the efforts of the Foundation’s donors and volunteers, we are making communities stronger, resilient, and self-reliant; where all stakeholders are resolving major issues in their community through grassroots ingenuity and a volunteer spirit.
I’d like to end by quoting the scripture, 1 Timothy chapter 3, verses 1 through 3 which states, “He who desires the office of bishop,” – I like to use the word ‘Leadership’ in place of ‘Bishop.’ Therefore, “He who desires the office of leadership, desires a good work.” Let us endeavor to live life above reproach, exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation.
Sister Joan reminds us that it is the prophet’s responsibility to “sound the alarm” when our institutions lose their way and live to preserve themselves rather than the common good. The prophet believes that justice is achievable, that peace is essential, and they arrange their life and their world so that they can move the world toward this point. So, the question I have for the audience here today is, what is your vision of a world where all things are just and where the reign of God is the energy that drives it?
The oath we took is a heavy burden, but if we do well as we fight in the trenches we will be rewarded with respect from others and have increased confidence in our faith.
Thank you (Applause)