Community Voices

Walking great-grandchildren to school evokes memories of years past

Bea L. Hines
Bea L. Hines

This week, I walked my great-grandson Jaylen, 9, to school. He’s the third generation of Hines children I’ve taken to school. I am the great-grandma of three, and while I couldn’t walk all of them to school on Monday, thanks to this wonderful world of technology, my youngest granddaughter Jamie sent cellphone first-day-of-school photos of Tavaris, 9, and Halle, 1½.

Tavaris was the typical “big” brother in the picture, and Halle, who has never been short of big smiles, simply lit up the picture, looking every bit of a “big” girl on her way to nursery school. So cute.

My mind did some traveling back in time, when I walked my two sons Rick (now deceased) and Shawn to Holmes Elementary School on their first days at the “big” school. Jaylen, Tavaris and Halle are Rick’s grandchildren.

I was just as proud as I walked Jaylen to Barbara Hawkins Elementary and met his teacher, Charlene Curry, for the first time. As we got out of the car and made our way to the cafeteria, where his other classmates from last year waited, I reminded Jaylen of the first time I walked him to class. He was in pre-K and cried every day the first week when I left him.

“Do you remember that?” I asked him. He chuckled and nodded his head at the memory. The crying stopped when his Poppa (Rick) explained that he was a big boy now and shouldn’t be crying when I dropped him off to school. “And besides,” he told Jaylen, “It makes Grandma Bea sad when you cry.”

He never cried again when I left him.

Monday, as we walked into the cafeteria, Jaylen was grinning from ear to ear. He was happy to see his friends. “It’s been so long,” he said softly. I looked at him and thought: It’s only been three months, but to a 9-year-old, three months can seem like three years. I understood.

The summer had afforded my great-grands many memories. Jaylen went to the Junior Olympics for the second year. This time the games were in Texas. Later, his grandma Debra (Rick’s widow) would be brave enough to take them on a road trip to her brother’s farm in Georgia, where they gathered fresh eggs from the chicken coup and took pictures of the baby goat. With so much going on, I can understand why the three months seemed so long to Jaylen.

So now, this is a new school year and the youngsters, dressed in their school uniforms and sneakers of every color and design, are excited. And so am I.

I am excited because I am blessed to see this day; to be able to see my great-grands off to school. I am feeling blessed beyond measure. I told Jaylen he will love the fourth grade as I did. I told him about my fourth-grade teacher — Mable Thompson-Glover — and how much we loved her. I even sang a song Mrs. Thompson-Glover taught us for a Thanksgiving play, in which my character was “Priscilla.”

“Turkey, turkey, gobble. ... Please run away. ... So they will not find you on Thanksgiving Day,” I sang for him as he laughed out loud.

At The Church of God Tabernacle in Liberty City on Sunday, Missionary Cynthia Frager asked all the children in the congregation to come to the altar for prayers for a successful school year and for their safety. Children of every grade gathered at the altar as Bishop Walter H. Richardson and the other ministers prayed for them. As he prayed, my mind went back over the past school years, when violence was able to sneak into some of our schools — our children’s safe havens. We prayed that violence in our schools will be a thing of the past.

Last Monday, I sat in the cafeteria until Ms. Curry called all the fourth-graders to line up to march into their classroom for the next nine months, then I introduced myself. She is a pretty young woman with a nice smile. She shook my hand and asked, “Which one is your baby?”

I smiled proudly and pointed out Jaylen. She then turned to me, looked me directly in the eyes and said, “He is in good hands.”

I thanked her and said, “I know he is.”

EBENEZER UNITED METHODIST CELEBRATES 118TH ANNIVERSARY

Warm congratulations to the Rev. Carrill S. Munnings and the congregation of Ebenezer United Methodist Church on the occasion of the church’s 118th anniversary.

Ebenezer is one of the oldest churches in Miami, founded in 1898 by four pioneer families who met to organize Ebenezer Episcopal Church as it was then known. In 1939, Ebenezer was established for black Methodists and became a part of the United Methodist Church in 1968.

Ebenezer was our first church home when my family (mom, me and my brother Adam) moved to Miami in 1944. The Rev. William O. Bartley was the pastor at the time. He was a beloved pastor — to both blacks and whites. Some of the children thought he was Jesus. And when the church was raising money to build a new sanctuary, some of the white city bus drivers sold small bags of parched peanuts for a dime each, as a fundraiser to help build the new church.

I can remember that on a very cold day in Miami when Mom took us to the groundbreaking for the new church at Northwest 11th Street and Third Avenue. I wore my new overcoat and stood behind my mom to keep the cold wind from stinging my skinny legs.

We spent many happy days at Ebenezer, with Mom singing in Choir No. 1, and hearing the wonderful sermons from Rev. Bartley. We left Ebenezer when my family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, briefly in the summer of 1948. But we never forgot our times spent there and Mom and her friends from the church kept in touch until they all died.

By 1973, the congregation had dwindled because of urban renewal and many of the members moved from the Overtown community. The church moved to 2001 NW 35th St., in Allapattah, where at the time three separate congregations met under the same roof.

This week, Ebenezer will host “An Evening in Revival” in celebration of its anniversary. The first revival night was held on Wednesday, with the Rev. Ted. McRae of Abundant Life Ministries and his congregation serving as hosts.

Other revival nights will be at 7 p.m. Thursday with the Rev. Aaron Jackson of Millrock Holy Missionary Baptist church and congregation as hosts, and at 7 p.m. Friday with the Rev. Dr. Devin Brown of Greater St. James Missionary Baptist Church and congregation serving as hosts.

The 118th anniversary celebration will culminate at 10 a.m. with the Rev. Dr. Harold D. Lewis Sr. as the guest speaker. Lewis is the former director of black congregational development of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and current serves as the pastor of Shepherd’s Community UMC in Lakeland, Florida.

Everyone is invited to the celebration. For more information, call the church office at 305-635-7413.

FAMILY FOUNDATION AIDS BENEFIT ON SATURDAY

The Family Foundation will have its 26th annual AIDS Benefit and Awards Banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Miami Airport Marriott Hotel, 1201 LeJuene Rd.

The honorees include longtime foundation supporters Minister Teresa Robinson of Ebenezer UMC; Pastor Christine Long of The Friendship Holiness Church; Bishop Henry Hood of Bethel Apostolic Faith Ministries; Terry Wright of Wright & Young Funeral Home; and the Rev. Billy W.L. Strange Jr. of Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist church.

The Foundation helps raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and its continued impact on communities, both locally and globally.

According to a release from the foundation, there are 27,035 people in Miami-Dade County currently living with HIV/AIDS, an increase by 23 percent from 2004 to 2014.

There may still be tickets available. Call the Rev. Darryl K. Baxter at 305-978-7100 for more information.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH CENTER CAR WASH

The Universal Truth Center for Better Living at 21310 NW 37th Ave. will have a car wash from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on the church grounds. For $25, your car will get a wash, vacuum and tires scrubbed while you wait.

There will also be fried snapper sandwiches with a side salad for sale. The meal will include a beverage. Funds raised at this event will be used for planned activities at the church’s annual spiritual growth and pledge campaign Adventures in Faith.

Call the church at 305-624-4991 for more information.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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