Most people call her Miss Bea. However you address longtime Five Points resident Beaetta Prater, the first things to understand about her are her faith in God and her commitment to building a strong community.
Prater is currently the president of Eastport/Five Points Tenants Association and a contributor to its newsletter. She is also a member of the association’s Neighborhood Watch, but she envisions this role differently than what first comes to mind.
“This is, to me, literally about looking out for my neighbors, especially with this Covid situation going on.” Prater said. “This is about checking up on people, making sure people are getting their groceries, getting rides if they need one, their medications, making sure the most basic needs are met for people who may not need to get out in public.”
Prater understands all too well the need for those with underlying conditions to take extra precautions due to the pandemic. Up until a few years ago, she was the caregiver for her brother for 11 years. But her cancer diagnosis in 2017 made admitting him to a care facility necessary. She is thankful to be cancer free and for the care her brother receives. “By the grace of God, no one has Covid where he is,” she said. “I’m blessed”
Though she was recognized for her contributions with a nomination for the Diana Conn Neighbor of the Year Award, she personally wanted to extend thanks to others.
“I really want to thank all the people who have taken time to help residents in this community during the pandemic,” she said. “We greatly appreciate them, and I would personally like to thank God for touching the hearts of others for including us in their acts of kindness,” adding that she also thanks Sylvia Cook for nominating her for the award.
While stressing the importance of following Covid protocols, Prater does look forward to the day she can return to her Friday Movies Ministry where residents gather for socializing, snacks and thought-provoking films.
Just turned 54, Prater is a 1984 graduate of Rule High School (yes, she’s still unamused with the school’s closure), and her fondest memories of those years stem from playing clarinet in band. “I was the first black female band captain at Rule. I’m still proud of that.”
Prater advises younger generations to pay attention and learn from the past in light of ongoing protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement. “You have to be a good example for good things to happen. Be a figure for positive change in your community,” she said. “Dig into your history, understand what those who came before you had to go through. Be grateful for and respect your elders. Acknowledge the shoulders that you stand on and behave accordingly. Be a benefit, not a detriment.”
Lastly, she said “Love God and thank God. Love thy neighbor as thyself. All of your neighbors. Equal rights are equal rights. Period.” And, she added, “go vote.”
Beth Kinnane is a freelance writer and thoroughbred bloodstock agent.