The month of February marks 36 years of employment with CREATE Foundation – hired as the receptionist, secretary, and bookkeeper.
As I reminisced about this journey, I came to realize the Lord placed me at CREATE to continue to learn and grow.
It started out as a two person office – just me and the boss. There’s now a staff of nine. I worked many late nights and weekends trying to make sure I did a good job carrying out the wishes of the donors and balancing the books. Currently, I serve as Vice-President of Finance and Administration.
While at this job, I have been able to meet so many wonderful people of all ethnicities who became a part of my life; not only my life, but my children, as well. I have been able to meet and have relationships with bank presidents, hospital presidents, doctors, lawyers, senators, mayors, teachers, representatives, business owners, and with William, who makes our vehicles look new. I met Yusuf Nurredin, a man who has washed CREATE’s windows for many years, and just recently lost his mother. Where else but at CREATE Foundation could I have been exposed to people from all walks of life? What a great career to have!
I’ve thought a lot about the opportunities afforded me by being employed at the Foundation. I became a community columnist and have shared stories about my life and about people you may not have known. I published a children’s book called “The Summer of 1969” with Sara Williams Berry. I have been able to speak and share my mother’s story about love. Oh, the places I have been!
Some highlights of my career: Being invited to speak to the Mississippi Senate; being the commencement speaker at Itawamba Community College; and being the Phi Theta Kappa induction speaker at Northeast Mississippi Community College, my alma mater; and having a clean audit for the past 35 years of my tenure.
I reflected on a principle my mother charged me with as a young girl, “Make a difference with people and with your life.” I have had platforms to talk about love and how we all should strive to make a difference in the lives of others. How fitting that CREATE’s mission of improving the quality of life for the people in Northeast Mississippi aligns with my mother’s principle. I pray that as an employee over the last 36 years, I have adhered to my mother’s instructions of making a difference.
I thought about February – being my anniversary month, Black History month, and touted as the month of love. I focused on love and asked myself, “What does love really mean? Have I truly loved my fellow man? Or, have I only loved when it’s been convenient? Is it love for the people I know? The people with whom I work? The people I go to church with? The people whom I associate with?”
Zora Neal Hurston said, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
You can’t hide real love. Could love mean going outside of the box? Loving those who don’t look like you? Loving those who may have a different viewpoint? Loving those who don’t attend the same church? Loving those who are just plain different? Loving your neighbors as you love yourself?
How do you define love? Does your soul challenge you to love? Does your soul crawl out from its hiding place?
You be the judge.