The Optimist Club of Pine Bluff will recognize area graduating seniors in their annual Youth Appreciation Awards Banquet. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, in the fellowship hall of the St. John AME Church, 1117 W. Pullen St.


Five graduating seniors from Jefferson County high schools will be awarded in areas of academics, arts, athletics and civics.


The club will also present Support Recognition Awards to Dr. Martha Flowers, Thomas Groceries & Gifts store, Dorothy McFadden and Smith Barber and Cosmetology Institute.


The banquet speaker will be the Rev. Renice Davis, pastor of Bethany Chapel Missionary Baptist Church at Pine Bluff, where he’s been the leader 15 years. Davis has also served as an international missionary to Port-au-Prince Haiti and Israel, according to a news release.


For more than 25 years, Davis has been employed by the local water utility and is currently Liberty Utilities’ business community development manager, according to the release.


In his current position, Davis provides information through public involvement with the company and community to strengthen the relationship and create a culture promoting hope and growth of the infrastructure of Pine Bluff and surrounding areas, according to the release.


Relating to community service, the pastor has served as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arkansas, the Pine Bluff School District, and ACCESS of Pine Bluff. He is also a certified religious assistant for the Arkansas Department of Correction, where he is actively involved in the prison ministry.


About the Optimist Club, it is a volunteer organization that values all children and helps them develop to their full potential.


“By providing hope and positive vision, Optimist brings out the best in kids,” according to the release.


David Morgan is Optimist Club president. Sharon Fletcher serves as chairwoman and Patricia Berry is the co-chairwoman.