The longer I live, the more thankful I am for all the blessings I have received from dear friends and loved ones, and even from some strangers. The kindness and thoughtfulness of others toward me has never gone unnoticed — not by me, and not by the Lord.
I think I mentioned to you about the car wash “angel,” an anonymous person who pays for my car to be washed each week. I so appreciate that gesture of kindness. When I was much younger and didn’t suffer from arthritis, I could get down on my knees to clean the tires of my car and give them a good washing. Time and age have brought about a change.
I don’t know if the person who does this kind act for me even reads my column. But if you happen to see this, dear friend, please know that, not only do I notice your kindness with deep gratitude, I believe the eyes of the Lord are upon you, too.
I don’t know why I am going this way today. Just woke up this morning with an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude and started thinking about so many of you who do random acts of kindness toward others without a second thought.
If I wanted to, I could fill this space with negative incidents that happened during the past week. Sometime I have to go there — but not today. This day and time, I want to, as it says in the Bible, “stir up the pure mind” of everyone who reads this column. Think about something nice that someone did for you or said to you. Be happy for it and pay it forward; do the same for someone else. You don’t need money to give someone a nice compliment.
As I write this, I am reminded of my pastor’s wife, Missionary Betty Richardson, who always pays it forward. What an angel. Not only does she take good and loving care of our Bishop Walter H. Richardson, who at 94 — 23 years her senior — she finds time to do little acts of kindness for so many others. It is not uncommon for her to buy nice clothes for children in the church. And she goes about it silently, not blowing her own horn.
Sister Betty, as she is lovingly called by everyone at church, married the bishop 17 years ago. He had been married to his first wife, Poseline, for 49 years when she died in 1996. It was a sad time for our close-knit church family and we grieved along with our pastor for his loss. Then, along came the widow Betty, and the rest is a loving history.
Sister Betty is the church’s head Bible class teacher, and coaches and directs the children in the annual Easter and Christmas pageants. She often goes into her own funds to buy the appropriate costumes to make the pageants more authentic. The children love her and so do the members of the church.
Then, there is Missionary Bobbi Harden, who loves to cook and share her delicious meals with many who are unable to cook for themselves. It is not unusual for her to wake up one morning and decide she will make one of her tasty bread puddings and bring it to church in plastic sandwich bags to share with the congregation.
“I can’t buy gifts for everyone, but I can cook a good meal and invite them to come and share it,” she once said to me. For those who have tasted her culinary creations, there could be no better gift.
Then, there are people like my friends who have been loyal readers from day one. It would take several more columns to name you all, but thanks. Thanks for taking the time to email or call me to say, “I enjoy reading your column.” Or not. Even when you disagree with me, you are still loyal.
Which brings me to today’s column: Some people will find it a bit “mushy” or too Pollyannaish. That’s OK, too.
In writing about these overwhelming feelings of gratitude I woke up with this morning, I am also telling myself to remember to “stir up” my own mind, and continue paying it forward.
Another Duffie is ordained
Warm congratulations to the Rev. Cecil Andrew Duffie, M. Div., who on May 7, was ordained at Howard University’s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel in Washington.
Duffie is the eldest child of Minister Troy and Deaconess Cecily Robinson Duffie. He and his family recently celebrated over 100 years of continuous membership at the historic St. John Baptist Church in Overtown.
Duffie’s ties with my family goes all the way back to my own childhood, when his late grandmother, Thelmarie Mitchell Robinson, and I first met. As teenagers, we made a vow that if we ever were married and became mothers we would be the godmother for each other’s children. The third party on that vow-making day, was another close friend Melvia Williams Green. We kept the vow. And not only am I godmother to my friend’s children, I am also one of the godmothers for her grandchildren, too.
So, it is with great pride that I make this announcement. While I could not attend the ordination, I was there last year, along with his family, several friends and his pastor Bishop James Dean Adams, when Duffie received his Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity.
Duffie, who recently was appointed the assistant dean of religious life at Howard University, has a degree in telecommunications with a minor in education from the University of Florida. He was the recipient of the Howard University Trustee, Ivan Earle Taylor and Joseph H. Jackson Scholarships and was also selected as the Evans Crawford Graduate Assistant at the historic Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel.
At the ordination ceremony, the Rev. Dr. Bernard L. Richardson, dean of the chapel, presided, while Duffie’s hometown pastor Bishop Adams, gave the ordination sermon and served as Catechizer (Laying on of Hands ceremony). Duffie’s parents presented him with his Bible, hymnal and robe. Bishop Arthur C. Wilson, a long-time family friend and district overseer of the Churches of God of Prophecy, gave the Right Hand of Fellowship to the newly ordained minister.
Duffie has a twin, Cecily Anastacia, and three other siblings: Troy Adam, Caitlyn and Trinity.
Universal Education lecture
You are invited to hear Michael Ferguson lecture on “Universal Education: An Idea Born in the 1800s” 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Miami Baha’i Center, 9300 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 209.
Ferguson is a retired educator, who spent 42 years as a teacher and administrator in both public and private independent schools. He has a degree in history, political science and social studies. In his lecture, Ferguson will present some education concepts presented by Baha’u’llah, who founded the Baha’i Faith more than a century ago.
Said Ferguson: “The writings of the Baha’i Faith include many progressive ideas, such as that education be universal and compulsory for both boys and girls. Or that we should regard each individual as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value, but only education can reveal its treasures and enable mankind to benefit.”
The event is open to all and light refreshments will be served after the discussion. Call 305-915-7247 for more information.
Conversations about living and dying
The 22nd annual Ministering to the Elderly Conference will be from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 25 at Miami Jewish Health, 5200 NE Second Ave. The topic will be: “Living and Dying — Conversations About What Matters Most.”
The keynote speaker will be Harriet Warshaw, executive director of The Conversation Project, an organization dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. She has had 35 years of management experience in both the public and private sectors, including senior positions at the Boston Hospital for women, New England Baptist Hospital, Genzyme Corp. and the New England Healthcare Institute. She also has served 10 years on the Wellesley Board of Health in MA, and on numerous commissions and boards, including chairing Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Commission on Caring and Social Justice, and as Board of Trustees President of Temple Beth Elohim of Wellesley.
At the conference, attendees will discuss the importance of and methods for encouraging conversations between family members about individual end-of-life choices. Such conversations empower caregivers, physicians, clergy and others to make informed decisions about end-of-life care when people cannot express their own needs. Such conversations also open avenues to speak about how one views the value of his or her life.
The event is organized by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Mishkan Miami, The Jewish Connection for Spiritual Support; Miami Jewish Health, and Jewish Community Services of South Florida,
Registration is $36 per person and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. To register, visit JewishMiami.org/mttec or call 786-866-8621.
Homegrown Achievers Luncheon
The 14th annual Homegrown Achievers Luncheon sponsored by the Historic Hampton House Community Trust will be noon Saturday, May 27, at the Historic Hampton House, 4240 NW 27th Ave. in the Brownsville area.
The honorees were selected because they grew up in the Brownsville community and are now making outstanding contributions to their communities. They are Marvin Ellis, an educator; Sumner Hutcheson III, a leadership and fundraising consultant; and Michael J. Meares, M.D.
Ellis is a graduate of Xavier University in Louisiana, and has taught Spanish, French, and Bilingual Education. He served as chair of the Bilingual and Foreign Language Department at Edison High School. He has received many awards and The Marvin Ellis Collection of personal papers and photos are archived at the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University; the Xavier University Archives, and the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida. He is a member of the Church of the Incarnation.
Hutcheson is an innovative leader with more than 35 years in senior executive level positions with a nonprofit organization and three universities. He is president of Hutcheson and Associates, where he shares his extensive experience in fundraising, nonprofit management and consultation, and emergency and crisis management. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethune Cookman University and a Master of Social work from Barry University. He grew up in the Church of the Open Door in Liberty City, where he continues his membership.
Meares has a B.S. degree in chemistry from Howard University in Washington. He continued his education at Tallahassee Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee, where he completed his residency in family medicine. He currently practices in Orlando. He was a founder and member of the board of directors and past president of Primary Care Specialist, LLC, and was instrumental in the merger with Physician Associates to form a multi-specialty group of over 125 physicians. He also is a Fellow of the American Board of Family Practice and is board certified in Family Practice. His parents are Issac and Betty Meares. His religious journey started as a young child attending the Church of the Open Door in Liberty City, and later at Glendale Baptist Church in Richmond Heights.
The Homegrown Achievers Luncheon is one of the main fund-raisers that benefits the Historic Hampton House. For tickets and for more information call 305-638-5800, 305-635-5130 or 305-297-7912.
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