“The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden. Nelson Mandela’s day is done. The news, expected and still unwelcome, reached us in the United States, and suddenly our world became somber. Our skies were leaden. His day is done. No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.” Maya Angelou RIP Madiba

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own.” Samuel Johnson

Let me tell you the story of a 17-year-old born in Baton Rouge, La. to a military family and since the age of 18 months has lived and attended school in Germany and Korea. During vacations, he and his family visited numerous places including Belgium, Hong Kong, Beijing, Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia, Austria, Venice, Amsterdam, London and Greece, to name a few.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Miriam Beard

During his travels, he witnessed poverty, wealth and inhumane conditions in the countries and cities he visited, cataloging it in his young mind.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

He joined the Cub Scouts and then the Boy Scouts in Germany and continued in scouting when his family returned home. For those who have traveled in the military with family, there are certain inconveniences you experience, like waiting for your household items to arrive weeks or months after you have returned. Fortunately, the military bases provide temporary furniture and household items for your use.

Ready to move to the level of Eagle Scout he needed a service project that would enhance the community. If you are familiar with the scouting process, there are certain criteria to meet. Most service projects usually involve painting, landscaping or beautification of the communities, but this teenager had a different idea.

No one imagined the impact his travels had on him at such an early age and how it would manifest itself in such a magnificent and humane way. He told his parents about a place in his community that houses homeless families. He talked about the places they had visited and how he felt when they had to get household items until their furniture arrived from overseas.

To whom much is given much is required… Luke 12:48
He decided his project would provide jumpstart kits consisting of pots, pans, dishes, iron, mixer, flatware, glasses, cooking utensils and a huge tote for displaced families in a shelter. He solicited the community of Fairfax Station, Va., family and friends to purchase these items, even providing the aisle locations in the store so the kits would be the same. Each completed kit cost $116.84. Some donors produced total kits, they were so inspired by this Boy Scout. With the help of his Boy Scout troop, classmates, family and neighbors and after weeks of collecting and assembling the kits, 38 jumpstart kits were delivered to the Katherine Hanley Home providing families a jumpstart to a new beginning.

Did I mention that the Boy Scout who chose a project that enriched the lives of others during this season of giving is my grandson Matthew Packer, son of Gregory and Lisa Packer.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently.” Lewis Carroll

“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…” The snowflakes cast a Dickens-like winter wonderland scene, gently kissing the tree branches while guests dined and danced inside Committee X-71’s Saturday afternoon holiday party at Martin’s West.

Guests travelled from near and far joining our host Col. Walter and Jeanette Hairston during the cocktail hour, before dining on Martin’s exquisitely prepared menu of salmon, prime rib, crab cakes and dessert stations with assorted cakes, sundaes and chocolate covered strawberries. The appealing ice cream cocktails, artfully prepared by the mixologist Michael, enticed many to forgo dessert for the special treat.

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Martin Charnin

People dressed in their holiday finery enjoying Committee X-71’s hospitality included Ron and Linda Hairston. Michael and Myietta Hairston, William Belcher, Rosalie Turpin, Leonard and Mary Ellen Smackum, Louis and Bernice Smackum, Barbara Armstrong, Gregory Williams, Carole Hilton, Pat and Howard Jessamy, Dr. Vallen and Michele Emery, Dr. Anne Emery, Floyd and Gwendola Taliaferro, Dr. Joseph and Lillian Hairston, James and Lorraine Thornton, Dr. J. Laws Nickens, Diane Hardison, John and Louise Green, Brenda Hairston, Stan and Loretta Mitchell and Errol and Debbie Taylor.

Sending prayers and get-well wishes for a speedy recovery to former Baltimore City school superintendent Dr. Walter Amprey who is recovering from surgery.

Happy Birthday to Colin’s manager Chris Calvi, Dr. Walter Amprey, Cordell Boone, Anthony McCarthy, Larry Satterfield, Get Gaither and Pat Payne. Harold Darden celebrates his 80th birthday Dec. 27, at the 5 Mile House.

“In one of the stars I shall be living, in one of them I shall be laughing and so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Prayers to the faithful saints of St. Bernadine on the sudden death of your friend and spiritual leader Father Miller. I remember when Father Miller came to St. Bernadine; I lived on Lyndhurst Street across from the church. On Sundays, he would march the choir outside to sing on the church steps. An urban preacher Father Miler brought the church from the pulpit to the street. He walked the community bringing peace and joy.

Merry Christmas! Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch