The SEKOTS Foundation, along with the Denmark Chapter of the Voorhees High School and College Alumni Association, will host the 10th annual Caring Hearts Valentine’s Benefit at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Leonard E. Dawson Center on the Voorhees College campus.
SEKOTS is an acronym for “Strive for excellence; Every day is a new opportunity; Knowledge is power; Optimism is your best friend; Teach yourself something new every day and Strength is what God arms us with to get over it.”
The “Jazz Guys” of Myrtle Beach will be the featured entertainment. Charles Doctor, “DJ Doc,” of Orangeburg will also play after the Jazz Guys perform and during intermission.
The Jazz Guys are a special blend of talents and personalities coupled with many years of musical training and performance experience. Michael Bondra is the original founder and leader of the group. Originally and formally trained as an accordionist in Cleveland, Ohio at the age of 5, he later became a talent Roundup winner on the original Mickey Mouse Club at the age of 9. Bondra plays both keyboard and left-hand keyboard bass.
Patty Lake is the dynamic female lead vocalist. Originally from upstate New York, and classically trained, she has been a Jazz Guys member for five years. In addition to the Jazz Guys, Lake has performed with various bands over the years.
Roger Klofta has been described as "one of those individuals who was born to play - the music just flows out of this talented saxophonist." He also has played with the Jazz Guys for five years. Originally from Ohio, Klofta received his first saxophone at the age of 4. His father, who professionally played the saxophone and clarinet, was his teacher. Klofta has been playing ever since in swing, southern rock, country and blues bands.
The 2018 SEKOTS Founders' Award will also be presented at the benefit.
"One of the central highlights of the evening is recognizing a person from the community who aligns with what we do in the community: lead, support and volunteer,” said Douglas Stokes, who founded the organization with his wife, Lisa.
State Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg County) is this year’s recipient. He attended Bamberg County public schools K-12. A 2005 graduate of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, Bamberg graduated in 2009 from the University of South Carolina, earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in criminal justice. He is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
At the age of 24, Bamberg received his Juris Doctor from the USC School of Law, finishing the three-year program in two and a half years and passing the South Carolina Bar exam on his first attempt. He is currently licensed to practice law in South Carolina state court and the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.
Bamberg is a trial lawyer with Bamberg Legal LLC in Bamberg, and he focuses on personal injury and wrongful death litigation. He has received many accolades for his trial work fighting for injured and deceased persons, including: National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 and Top 100, National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 and National Trial Lawyers-Mass Tort Trial Lawyers Association Top 25.
Bamberg said he has always had a passion to help people. He is on the Board of Directors for the Healing Species Inc., a non-profit organization serving at-risk elementary school-aged children and inmates in the South Carolina Department of Corrections “through compassion education and violence intervention."
A frequent youth speaker, Bamberg is the third vice chair of the Bamberg County Democratic Party.
Tickets to the benefit are $50 per person. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For additional information, call 803-682-0538, 803-245-5648, 803-707-2607 or contact any member of the Voorhees College, Denmark Chapter Alumni Association. More information is also available at www.sekotsfoundation.org.