Recently Paul Allen Billings won the 2018 Outstanding Citizenship Award for the City of Muskegon. The following statement was submitted to the Award Committee by the Award Winning Author Teresa Taylor-Williams.
Father. Brother. Son. Mentor. Mentee. Promoter. World traveler.
Retired corrections officer. Social justice advocate. Entrepreneur. Philanthropist.
I met Paul “P.A.” Billings in the 1990s. As a reporter for the Muskegon Chronicle, I’d heard of the popularity of his cable TV show, the Underground Video Show. I wrote about him and could not have anticipated the impact he would grow to have on West Michigan and beyond.
That was roughly 20 years ago. Since then he has formed the West Michigan Community Help Network, a 501(c)3 with a mission to educate, inform and empower the community about issues that affect their well-being, using all available resources. Under this umbrella he has coordinated numerous community events such as food drives, job fairs, community concerts, and mentorship programs.
I have worked as a print and now as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years, and the media has a responsibility on many levels. I appreciate that Paul understands that. I’m excited to see him establish two Muskegon-based radio stations, also one in Orlando, FL., and I’m sure more projects are in the works. As long as there are needs in the community, he will work tirelessly to do his part to help meet those needs. His heart is to give back. Not one to toot his own horn, he seems not to mind the spotlight but only if someone else can benefit or share in it.
Paul has the unique ability to entertain the public and also draw their attention to rally citizens behind pertinent community issues, particularly those affecting the urban community.
He has a gift of encouragement and inspires others to challenge themselves.
Between 2008-2010, the Chronicle underwent a massive reduction in force, and I lost my job after 16 years. This was devastating and sent me into a depression. He probably doesn’t realize how much he helped me with encouraging words and having me to do various media projects for him. He let me know I still had viable skills in the field of media. He believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself.
In recent years, Paul has traveled extensively. He has an affinity for the continent of Africa—he has developed close ties to Ghana, West Africa, and was made a Village Chief. He has and continues to collect clothing and educational materials for the people there, and he even helped form a community lab there. The last two years, he fundraised and sent local honor roll students to Ghana. A good deal of the money came out of his own pocket, as an investment in, and sign of commitment to, his community. That effort continues as six more have been selected for the trip this summer.
My essay and the other letters haven’t told the whole story, but I’m sure that they give you a good idea of who Paul is to us, as well as the community. I wholeheartedly nominate Paul Allen Billings for the Outstanding Citizenship Award for the City of Muskegon.
Respectfully, Teresa Taylor-Williams
Creator of The Underground Video Show & Smoove Grooves
Founder of Bestblacknews.com
President of The West Michigan Community Help Network
Board Member of Trinity Housing inc.
Hobbies: Traveling, John Madden, Internet Favorite Dish: Ethopian & Haitian Food Favorite Vacation Spot: Dubai, Hong Kong & Capetown, South Africa Favorite Movie: Hidden Colors, 500 Years Later & Bad Boys Favorite Actor: Martin Lawrence Favorite TV Show: Sanford & Son, Get Smart Motto: If a journey of a thousand miles must began… it must began with that first step! Religious Belief: If you believe in it than practice it. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org