Duke Chapel Honors Duke Police Staff Member with Award for Service in the Community

Ruby Thompkins recognized with the Humanitarian Service Award

Known to many at Duke and throughout the local community, Ruby Thompkins has provided educational opportunities for many children.
Known to many at Duke and throughout the local community, Ruby Thompkins has provided educational opportunities for many children.

Duke University Chapel is recognizing Ruby Thompkins, manager of information services at Duke Police, with the Humanitarian Service Award for her efforts supporting education for African American boys in Durham.

Duke Chapel gives the award each year to someone who demonstrates both a long-term commitment to serving others and a lifestyle marked by simplicity.

Thompkins will be presented the award at a reception at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, at Bovender Terrace, which is just outside from the Divinity School’s Zweli's Cafe.

In addition to her job at Duke, Thompkins serves on the board of trustees of Durham Nativity School, an independent, tuition-free middle school for boys from low-income backgrounds. For the school, she has led fundraising initiatives, helped guide its communications, and sought out assistance for students with particular needs. She also organizes Durham Nativity alumni to bring food and other essential items to people living on the streets in Durham.

In addition to her service to Durham Nativity School, Thompkins is active at Peace Missionary Baptist Church where she helped organize a vaccination clinic this past spring.

The Rev. Breana van Velzen, community minister at Duke Chapel, coordinates the committee that reviews nominations for the annual Humanitarian Service Award.

“Ruby Thompkins was selected for this award for her long-standing commitment to supporting the education of children, especially the young boys at Durham Nativity School,” van Velzen said. “She is known to her friends and family as being driven, committed, generous, and passionate about her community.”

As the recipient of the award, Thompkins will designate a $3,000 donation to a local nonprofit.

The Humanitarian Service Award has its roots in a relationship between two Duke professors. In 1990, religion professor, sociologist and United Methodist minister C. Eric Lincoln started the Humanitarian Service Award endowment to honor Dr. George R. Parkerson Jr. former chairman of the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke’s School of Medicine.

By establishing this endowment, Lincoln sought to recognize Parkerson’s “caring love and concern for humanity” and to encourage others to do the same. Both Parkerson and Lincoln have exemplified lives in service of others. Lincoln’s life was dedicated to service through reconciliation, hospitality, care, mentoring, and ecumenism. Throughout his career, Parkerson’s concern for humanity has been revealed in his work in family medicine and as he has helped his students “see life whole.”