September 18, 2023

Honoring Our Heroic Donors- A Unique Opportunity

Written by: Shirley Lam

In August, Nevada Donor Network was honored to receive a call from donor daughter, Sunnie Ennis, inviting us to the opening of the Melvin Ennis Recreation Center at Von Tobel Park. This recreation center was opened to honor the impact her husband made on the community he served. The commendation was presented by Commissioner William McCurdy II and Clark County Parks and Recreation. When he passed away in September 2021, he left a legacy through the many ways he touched others in our community during his career, as well as through the ultimate gift he gave by being a heroic cornea donor. 

Melvin Ennis Center Opening
Melvin’s passion for serving the Las Vegas community gave him the opportunity to change someone’s life for the better on a daily basis. Being a donor was an extension of his giving nature and was something he expressed to his loved ones as being very important to him. When he passed away, his family knew it was what he would have wanted. Melvin was able to give the gift of sight through cornea donation to two others. Showing our support, Nevada Donor Network attended this special event to bring awareness to our mission of saving and healing lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. We also wanted to honor Melvin’s gift and illustrate to the community what saying ‘YES’ truly means. It is a ripple effect of kindness that leaves a lasting memory of the person who donated. 

We wanted to share a bit more about who Melvin was to inspire you to #BeAHeroLikeMelvin! 

His family shared, “Our beloved Melvin Lamont “Beetle” Ennis gained his wings on September 23, 2021. Beetle was a product of his community having been mentored and raised by various leaders of his time. He witnessed the dedication it took to ensure that he had a good start to life and made it his mission when he returned home from Jackson State University to be that same person for children in the Las Vegas community. From 1994-1996 he served as a member of the Economic Opportunity Board of Clark County.  In 2009, Melvin was inducted into the Nevada Education Hall of Fame by Senator Harry Reid and was recognized by former Lieutenant Governor Lorraine T. Hunt and the State of Nevada for his service to the senior citizen community in Nevada. He was often spotted walking the track at the William U. Pearson Center or stopping by to check on his beloved seniors. Melvin was honored to receive a proclamation for his dedication to both The City of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas community whereas, April 2nd will now be recognized as Melvin “Beetle” Ennis Day. Melvin held various positions within the Clark County Parks and Recreations Department for over 28 years and retired in August of 2020. Melvin’s deep love and compassion for the children of the 89106-area sparked life in Camp Brotherhood and Sisterhood along with many other organizations. Over the course of 25 years, the organization mentored hundreds of local youths, many of whom went on to attend college, play professional sports and are currently serving our community today. He also dedicated his time to ‘New Direction,’ eventually renamed the Gang Intervention Team (GIT), which also received a proclamation from The State of Nevada. While focusing on the programs that he developed at work, Melvin also found time to coach youth football. Coach Beetle helped lead the ‘mighty Wolverines’ to many victories (a team that his sons played for, and his oldest daughter cheered for).

M- Ennis

When he wasn’t coaching or watching his children play sports, he would also make time for any child in need. He carried his large heart everywhere he went and was always looking for an opportunity to change a child’s life for the better. Our family’s holiday traditions often consisted of Melvin loading the children in the car and packing up Thanksgiving meals to drop off to families in need. During Christmas, our family would give gifts to families in need with only one request - that they pay it forward one day and not tell the children where they came from.  It was important for him to show his children the importance of supporting their community and helping others every chance they got. Throughout the rest of the year, our home was always filled with laughter from the children that would come throughout the day for a meal, a place to sleep or someone to talk to. Melvin made his home a safe place for children to come to when they were in need. He created a safe environment to ensure that youth in our neighborhood would know that gangs did not have to be an option.” 

Are you inspired? Become a hero today by visiting this link