Wednesday, December 30, 2009

VISIONS - Jan-Feb 2010

"We each have a calling that if left unanswered
will become a challenge unmet,
a problem unsolved, an opportunity missed,
a dream and a legacy unfulfilled, a link missing in the chain of events
that were meant to form the history of the world."

Permission to Win - In 2010 "You Are a Champion"

By: Willie Johnson - "The Ambassador of Potentiality"

As you enter into this new year of 2010 – I challenge you to continue harnessing the power of a Positive Attitude and give yourself “Permission to Win”, in life! You have greatness within you. Therefore; I firmly believe that you were born with the ability to overcome the problems and obstacles fate throws at you. Be the natural champion in life that you are, or are destined to become…..

It doesn’t matter where you may be in your life. It doesn’t matter who you are or what troubles you have. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white. It doesn’t matter whether you were brought up in the ghetto or in a rich suburb. It doesn’t matter if you live on a farm, in a small city or in a major metropolis, like New York or Atlanta. It truly doesn’t matter. There is indeed a champion within you – that cannot be defeated. Just open yourself up so that you can realize your full potential. In short - give yourself “Permission to Win” - In life – In 2010.

I submit to you that “winning” is a birthright. Failing to recognize this and applying a positive attitude, can rob you of many things, such as, happiness in life, success, and continued, upward progress. Therefore; do not develop negativity within. Negativity will deny you the ability to be more productive; not only in your professional life, but your personal life as well. Look around you – you can readily see the destructive forces of negativity at work. People, for whatever reason, lose hope, give up on their dreams, and convince themselves that they can’t get through tough problems and situations. You are better than that! You have greatness within you! Therefore; give yourself “Permission to Win” In life - In 2010.

This then, is my New Year’s message to each “VISIONS” reader. Be the champion in life that you really are or are destined to become. Develop and maintain a magnetic and positive attitude. Open yourself up and realize your full potential, and never lose sight of your hopes and dreams.
Give yourself “Permission to Win”
– in Life – In 2010…

A BIG THANK YOU to Guest Writer Willie Johnson for this issue’s front page message. Willie is a long-time contributor to VISIONS, who brings valuable experience, insight and inspiration, despite the high demand for his services as a speaker across the nation. For more information visit or E-mail Willie at

One Young Man's Definition of "Cool"

One Young Man’s
Definition of “Cool”

"Cool is my own definition of cool," he says. "That's what's important. Cool to me is getting straight A's. Cool to me is scoring three touchdowns. Cool to me is shaking the hand of our mayor," he said. "Cool to me is helping out at the nursing home. Cool to me is playing in the jazz band, and playing the lead role in 'Fiddler on the Roof.' I like to define my own path and my own journey." -Myron Rolle

Myron Rolle was a star football player at Florida State University. He earned his undergraduate degree in pre-med after two and a half years, and was taking graduate courses at Florida State this past year. While he was excelling on the football field and in the classroom he also created a program for fifth graders that encourages healthy lifestyles and physical fitness.

He's currently in Oxford, England taking part in a one year Master's program in medical anthropology.

Information obtained from the blog of our good friend Wayne Hicks. Read this and many more positive stories by following Wayne’s blog, the Electronic Village at


CONGRATULATIONS to William Lett for making the Merit Roll with a 3.0 Average. The Euclid High School 9th Grader also played Freshman Football during the Fall Semester. William is the son of Andrick and Seleana Hudson, and also our nephew.

Do They Laugh At You In School?

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Mark Twain


“The small world laughed at the colonists who declared independence from the most powerful nation in the world, but the big world smiled as the United States was born. The small world laughed as Thomas Edison failed thousands if times, but the big world smiled when they saw the light.”

“The small world laughed as the young man from East 87th and Cedar Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio challenged the so-called Super Race, but the big world smiled as Jesse Owens received four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics.”

From the Book Success is YOU!


Happy Birthday Eleanor Askew

One look at Eleanor Askew’s face and you can be assured that it was a Happy Birthday. Eleanor was joined at Beethoven’s in Warrensville Heights by her Birthday Club members, other friends, family, associates and those who were fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of the festivities. Once Eleanor and her friends go into high gear, laughter and good times become contagious, so all are caught up in the mood.

With six birthdays a year between the six members of the Birthday Club, one might imagine that they are in a near constant state of celebration. Well, one would be right, because as the group photo above shows, each of the club members are capable of drawing their own crowd and creating their own party. And that is what life is about, celebrating often and intensely. So even though your Birthday has passed, Happy Birthday Eleanor, because we expect you to be celebrating someone else’s birthday soon.

Additional photos from Eleanor’s Birthday Party can be seen at

Opportunity Disguised as Change - Connecting with us On-Line

Strangely nearly everyone agrees that change is inevitable and in many cases there is agreement that it has advantages. Very often a great part of the agreement takes place after much controversy and after many opportunities have been missed or delayed.

I am not unaccustomed to the “controversy of change.” As I promoted community involvement as a member of REACT and NAIC in the mid-seventies, I received those “sideways glances.” Now that everyone from former President Jimmy Carter to Colin Powell has spoken of community service, I am in good company. When I passionately spoke and wrote of Investment Education in the late seventies and early eighties, there again were the “sideways glances.” Now that “experts” tell us that we should look beyond what is stuffed in our mattress for our future, I am again and suddenly in good company. Fortunately I am either more blessed (or luckier) than I look!

This time it is Social Media’s turn. Several weeks ago I embarked on a mission of learning more about what has been termed Social Media. It seemed to me that any place that millions of people were flocking to was a logical place to connect with potential clients and re-establish valuable relationships. That belief led me to on-line webinars that shared ideas for utilizing technology, while minimizing the always present criticism of any and every thing that exists (that is in our nature).

The results have been astounding, even to one who typically visualizes opportunities within perceived obstacles. I won’t spend a lot of time or space trying to be convincing, but if you are using your computer for Internet access, I would suggest . . .

CONNECTING WITH US on the World Wide Web

A few of the places you can find us include:

Business Web Links (Yours Can be Included!):

Events Web Page (Your Events can be included!):

Inspirational Quotes Weekdays:

Inspirational Web Page:

VISIONS Newsletter (We could use YOUR Story! - Readers in over a dozen countries):

FACEBOOK Page (184 connections):

LINKEDIN Page (95 connections):

TWITTER Page (422 followers):

From the Pastor's Daughter, Aundria Hawkins Ford

When I think of Aundria Hawkins Ford, I am reminded of Russell Cromwell’s Acres of Diamonds. As I reach across boundaries of race, religion, gender, age, and national borders to grow in knowledge and understanding, just miles from where I live and in my own family, there is a “diamond in the rough.” And if the truth be fully told, she is more like a polished diamond.

Aundria is the wife of my lucky (though I must admit very polished himself) Cousin Emmett Ford. He is a young man that always impressed me as having a lot of strength and character. As I begin to learn more about Aundria, I see equally yoked power, passion and purpose. Alone each of them is strong, and together they are powerful. Anyway, for the purpose of this article, let me get back to Aundria.

Aundria is the daughter of a Cleveland area Pastor whose long time service in the city is legendary in its own right. Aundria may well be on her way to creating her own legacy as she reveals the good, the bad (she would describe it as teachable), and all in between as the life as a Pastor’s Daughter. Aundria’s recently released and aptly titled book From the Pastor’s Daughter is revealing, entertaining, impactful, and potentially life-changing.

As an author myself, surprisingly, I am not the world’s most patient reader. Whether due to long days and short nights, the numerous items I read in a typical day, the challenges of age, or just my propensity to want to get to the next challenge, it usually takes me weeks to complete reading a book. This was not the case with From the Pastor’s Daughter. I literally tore through the book with the appetite of a starving dog chewing on a meaty bone.

One of the many things I enjoyed about the book was Aundria’s ability to involve the reader by sharing events, thoughts and feeling in the form of questions. That may explain why while watching my favorite program, Jeopardy, I would use the commercial breaks to read one, two or three additional paragraphs of the book. Sharing information in the form of a question causes one to engage in the age-old, nearly lost art of . . . . THINKING!

As one should expect from any true story, From the Pastor’s daughter contains moments when things are well, and moments when things are not so well. But through it all Aundria finds the lessons life has to offer, she learns from them, and offers valuable insights about life and the importance of faith. Ironically, the book is not just for the faithful, not just for First Families, not just for Deacons and Church Staff. From the Pastor’s Daughter is crammed full of insightful and thought-provoking content that can cause us all to become more reflective, more considerate of others, and ultimately learn more about our own feelings, strengths and weaknesses. The book can become a valuable and one-of-a-kind resource in this journey called life.

From the Pastor’s Daughter:

A testimony of life in the ministry through the eyes of the Pastor's child.
by Aundria H. Hawkins Ford

"Everyone knows one, and maybe you even are one. Preacher's kids (PKs) always seem to be the hot topic! It seems that most of the time they get a bad rap and are forced to uphold almost impossible standards because of their positioning in the body of Christ.

Author Aundria Hawkins Ford offers a firsthand look into her life as a PK. She highlights the good times of fellowship and growth along with the bad times of being human and failing, and outlines the pressures of living life in the spotlight.

While celebrating the awesome legacy left by her father, founding pastor of a prominent church in the community, she retells her journey of discovery. This candid approach just might change what comes to mind when you hear PK. Moreover, it may alter your perspective of first families in all walks of life!"


Observation: One of the few things that can compete with Aundria’s talent and spirituality is her compassion and popularity. Within days of establishing an account on FACEBOOK, she connected with an astounding 165 people, and had easily surpassed me in the first ten days. I’ve attempted to “get angry” with her, teased her, taunted her and “threatened” her, and she is too smart to respond and get into a “gutter fight” with me (I’m convinced I would lose anyway!). The result is that I have to do what 165 (and the number is growing) other people are doing, and JUST LOVE HER!

Other Feedback from Aundria’s Blog: From the Pastor's Daughter is enlightening and inspiring. Aundria shares information that is at times heartwarming and at other times almost heartbreaking, but always informative. As she entertains, she builds bridges and closes gaps of misunderstanding. She challenges not just the reader, but also herself to answer to the higher calling of faith and service.

Additional Information: The good words spoken and written about From the Pastor’s Daughter are not isolated opinions or idle chatter. Several weeks before Christmas the books were SOLD OUT, but hopefully by now new supplies are available.


To find out more about Aundria Hawkins Ford or to order copies of From the Pastor’s Daughter, visit her blog at, her web site at or try Barnes & Noble, or Target.

You don’t want to be the only one in your crowd to benefit from this great book, so order copies for the special people in your life. And lastly, don’t even think about sharing it with someone after you’ve finished reading it. When you refuse to give it up, or they conveniently “forget” to return it, a valuable friendship may be in jeopardy, and that IS NOT in the form of a question. If they are that special, just order them a copy when you order yours!

Success is Geoffrey Taylor

For Geoffrey William Taylor, success is a practice, an achievement, a habit, and a family affair. Geoffrey recently received his Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media Communication from the University of Akron. A Magna Cum Laude graduate, Geoffrey’s concentration was in marketing, and his class projects included integrating multi-media concepts in advertising/marketing programs for diverse businesses. He has already put his education to good use by developing the popular web site

Geoffrey has leveraged his assets by utilizing professional and social networking tools to extend his positive impact upon others. In addition to his achievements, he already has a more than respectable following on FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN and probably some sites that I didn’t check. I had to do some research, because in addition to Geoffrey’s other qualities, being humble and quiet are near the top of the list. Geoffrey’s talents, abilities, persistence and achievement find good company at home. His wife Geneva is also a University of Akron Honors Graduate.

Geoffrey’s proud parents are Charles & Brenda Taylor of Streetsboro, Ohio. A big thank you to them and thanks to Brenda for sharing this inspiring information with us.

Happy Birthday Roy Richardson - Tuskegee Airman

Roy Richardson began blessing us over sixty years ago as a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Those blessings have continued for a lifetime as Roy continues to give back, to inspire others, and to take it all in stride. We were blessed to be among those who gathered to help Roy celebrate his birthday recently.

Roy is actively involved in many projects to share the history of America's underrated but famed fighting force that earned great respect during World War II. Roy was kind enough to allow us access to documents that confirmed much of the underpublicized history of the Airmen. Among those most impressive were autographs of many World War II heroes and historical legends around a photo of Roy in the center. Top and center was the autograph of Lt. Col. Clarence C. Jamison. Just looking at the copy of the document in a historical context can give one chills. It gives the feeling of you being there in that time and circumstance.

Because Roy’s party was scheduled to start around 7:00 PM and I mumbled a little about the party starting late for us seniors, Dianne and I decided to arrive long before the party started, share our good wishes whenever Roy arrived, and get home early. Surprisingly, even with our premature arrival, we found the party in high gear. When we questioned Roy about the time, he explained that some of his friends complained that they didn’t like being out so late, so he was actually giving two parties, one for those who like us, have trouble keeping up with Roy, and a party for those who like himself, have endless energy that is only rejuvenated by the lateness of the hour. So now that I understand that I cannot keep up with someone who was serving his country while I was in elementary school, I have once again been “taken out back to the woodshed.”

Dianne and I have known Roy for several years and admire him not just for what he has done for his country, but for his unending involvement in sharing with others. We admire him not just for his sacrifices, but for his service. We admire Roy because his warm and outgoing personality dwarfs even his heroism. He is truly as noted, “An Officer and a Gentleman.” So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROY, and may you be blessed with many more, so that in our own selfish way, we will continue to enjoy the blessing that you are to ourselves and others.

Additional photos can be seen on-line at

Saturday, October 31, 2009

VISIONS - Nov-Dec, 2009



A Time for Celebration and Renewal

We begin by wishing you a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Kwanzaa. If none of that fits, please accept our wishes that the rest of your day and all of your tomorrows be all that you envision and more!

Once again we enter into a season of celebration, and say THANK YOU to everyone who has provided stories, inspiration, positive feedback, or prayers. The past twelve months have been filled with expanded opportunity, new experiences and explosive growth. Despite the story told by the numbers in my checkbook, there is new hope in many of our recent experiences.

According to the statistics from our software tracking system, VISIONS is now being read in more than a dozen countries. We now share information worldwide on FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN and other social media sites by taking advantage of the rapid growth of the World Wide Web. During the past twelve months, we have established four social media groups. The membership in groups we’ve founded totals over two hundred individuals. Even more significant is the input and positive feedback we are receiving from many family, friends and associates, along with new and renewed relationships. All this is possible only because of God’s Blessings, and you can say you helped, because you are among those blessings.

I’ve become involved in new opportunities, including taking advantage of free webinars (on-line seminars) that share the knowledge, experience and concern of others from the convenience of a home computer. I’ve experienced new possibilities by connecting with new family members, and gaining mentors and contacts around the world.

Just recently I connected almost by accident (it was really much more than that!) with Keith Lightfoot, a well known author and speaker from Christchurch, New Zealand, a place I had visited several years ago. Keith has so far been responsible for me gaining a new contact in David Whyte, while a family member was responsible for me connecting with VaLisa J. Bakke of Norway.

Meeting new people, continued education, new opportunities are just a few of the tangible and intangible results that arrive at my doorstep daily. One of the many intangible results is benefiting and being empowered by the message I have long shared with others.

Is what I do for everyone? Of course not, but for each one who seeks personal and professional growth, becoming an asset to the community, or simply finding peace and harmony, there are opportunities in our midst. My challenge and vision is to be a part of the solution you seek, by lending my encouragement and support. My hope is that you will join me in that effort during the coming year, sharing your visions, accomplishments and challenges with myself and other VISIONS readers. I am convinced that our collective strengths can overcome our individual weaknesses. I am convinced we were put here on earth for each other, so my commitment is to continue to be here for you. Won’t you join me?

LOOK OUT WORLD! Here comes Brendan Dobbins

Thanks to Brenda Dixon for introducing Mr. Brendan Dobbins. He was born Aug. 15, 2009 at 4 lbs., 10 oz. and 18 ¾ inches long. The Son of Hearther and Terrance, this is Brenda Dixon’s 1st Grandchild. Praise God! He is now 7.5 lbs and 21 inches long (as of Sep. 30). See for Brendan’s Slide Show. Anyway, Brendan decided he can tell his story better than anyone else, so please read his captions.

Congratulations to Tyler Chancellor

The Headline from The Twinsburg Bulletin read Tigers’ Chancellor reaches cross country regionals. “Tigers” are the nickname of Twinsburg High’s Track Team. Anyway, our CONGRATULATIONS to Tyler Chancellor, son of Sheila Chancellor and Carl Chancellor on yet another achievement. Tyler has been featured in VISIONS several times in the past. His faith, hard work, and persistence are reaping a bountiful harvest, and we wish him continued success.

Congratulations Martin Williams

CONGRATULATIONS to Martin Dakota Williams who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from The Ohio State University. Martin is a Twinsburg, Ohio resident and the son of Maureen and Walter Williams.

What is Success?

By: Willie Johnson
Performance Improvement Consultant

Wherever my career takes me – from my home town of Yuma, Arizona, to 23 years in the U.S. Army, to being a Performance Improvement and Training Consultant with a Fortune 500 transportation company – I encounter people pursuing an aged old quest: “SUCCESS”.

So, what is success? I certainly do not have the all-time definitive answer to that question; however, I can say - success is in the eye of the beholder. (Success to one may not be success to another.) Success is not an accident or a matter of luck. Success doesn’t come to you; you must go to it. Therefore, it is my belief that success is a matter of decision, commitment, preparation, and execution. The trail is well marked. If you want to walk it, you can – the secret is in the steps.

Step 1: Decision. The road to success begins with the question: What do you want to do? In other words, decide what you want in life – by making a decision that comes from deep within you. This means taking the time to really get to know you; becoming familiar with your strengths and weaknesses and the way in which you respond to your environment. This will allow you to learn where you are strong and play to your strengths.

Step 2: Commitment. A commitment is your signature on the contract. It binds you to a course of action. You have heard it before – “It’s one thing to decide what you want. It’s another thing to make a commitment.” When you make a sincere commitment to a goal, powerful forces, from within you, come into play, and that propels you toward that goal.

Step 3: Preparation. Once you know where you want to go, the next logical step is to prepare for the journey. (Someone once said, “If you don’t know where you are going – how are you going to know how to get there. Better yet, how are you going to know when you get there?”) The preparation phase involves acquiring the life balance you will need to keep yourself on course, and the motivation to provide you with the energy to see things through.

Step 4: Execution. A brilliant game plan is no good without the proper execution. While it is paramount to have a game plan for your life – you have to implement it through positive action. Coupled with the action must be a learning process that allows you to learn from your inevitable mistakes. Winners in life expect to make mistakes; however, they use them as lessons.

There you have it – my answer to the question: What is Success? It is my sincere belief that if you follow these four steps, you will succeed – not because there is magic in my shared formula (steps), but because there is power in you – the power to accomplish whatever you want to accomplish in your “quest for success”.

Adam VanHo for Judge in Northern Summit County

Northern Summit County Residents

PLEASE VOTE Adam VanHo for Judge



Fraternal Order of Police
Summit County Sheriff's Deputies Lodge # 139

Betty Sutton
United States Congresswoman

Tom Sawyer
State Senator

Russ Pry
Summit County Executive

John Donofrio
Summit County Fiscal Officer

Daniel Horrigan
Summit County Clerk of Courts

Nick Kostandaras
President, Summit County Council

Jon Poda
Vice President, Summit County Council

Pete Crossland
Summit County Council

Jerry Feeman
Summit County Council

Ilene Shapiro
Summit County Council

Communications Workers of America
Local 4302 (Akron / Canton)

For additional endorsements and latest information visit

Important Community Meeting - Tuesday, Nov. 17th

Parents, Educators, Clergy, Business Owners, Professionals, Community Leaders, Students, and all Concerned Individuals - Would you spend two hours . .

Acknowledging Young High Achievers

Addressing Community Issues

Discussing Relevant Projects

Learning Ways to Improve Your Computer Skills

Meeting Others Who Can Help You Meet Your Personal and Professional Goals

Promoting Your Business or Enhancing Your Career

If your answer is YES to any of the questions above, please
Join us on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 6:00 PM

“We must become the change we want to see.” - Gandhi

YOUR Invitation to an Important Community Event

October 22, 2009

Dear BDPA Members & Friends:

For a while now we have sought ways to rejuvenate our Cleveland Chapter by doing new and exciting things. A while ago, we announced the initiation of a “technology peace corps” type initiative called the BDPA Information Technology Corps (IT Corps) which is intended to address community development by applying our members and students’ computer skills throughout the year on short projects. We have an opportunity to start that process in earnest now.

I first need your participation in a special recognition event to honor our students that participated in this year’s Student Information Technology Education and Scholarship (SITES) program and High School Computer Competition (HSCC). The event will be on November 17th at John Carroll University, at 6:00 P.M.

To attend this event, we additionally invited civic leaders, business persons, and parents to explore two simple questions in a brief panel discussion: What are the pressing issues in our Greater Cleveland communities that impede the growth of this area? Do you foresee a role for computer technology to address these priorities?

The most important contribution we are asking for is candid input on development priorities so that we can get the IT Corps rolling relevantly. Our youth teams will be using this information to shape projects that they will undertake here in Cleveland and later on internationally. For example, next year, the BDPA IT Corps has been invited to Nairobi, Kenya to extend the same format of inquiry and community development in our first international mission.

I would appreciate that you attend and send a confirmation email. The recognition ceremony and panel discussion will take place on the John Carroll University campus, University Heights, Ohio, 44118, in the Dolan Center for Science & Technology, Room A202 & 203, on Tuesday, November 17, 2009, at 6:00 P.M. Light refreshments will be served. The program will begin promptly at 6:30 and will last 90 minutes. We would appreciate that you confirm your intentions to attend by sending a confirmation email to, or calling (216) 773-0700 and leaving a voice-message, or sending a text-message to this same number, at your earliest convenience.

We will have parents and their students there being honored that evening. It would be great for us to show up in force to show we truly appreciate them and their continuing interest in BDPA and our Chapter. Also, this event is our very best opportunity to put our information exchange back on track. I hope I can count on you to be there. Please RSVP.

Kenneth L. Wilson
BDPA - Cleveland Chapter

BDPA is committed to promoting information technology to students, members, communities and businesses. For a span of more than 26 years BDPA has successfully groomed and assisted local youth through its annual High School Computer Competition (HSCC) program. BDPA’s innovative Information Technology (IT) Corps is opening up economic-empowerment opportunities globally and for Cleveland and Northeast, Ohio. Our Classroom-to-Career-to-Boardroom initiatives continue to enrich technology professionals and our area youth.


Happy "Surprise" Birthday to Ronald Dozier

The Banner “Happy 60th Birthday Dozier” was a complete surprise that greeted Ronald Dozier when he arrived at what he had been told would be a surprise party for Val Brown.

Of course Ron was supposed to be surprised, because he should expect to believe what his wife Paula tells him. That’s especially true when none of his longtime friends, relatives and associates spilled the beans.

It was near standing room only when Ron arrived, and as one would expect, it was an evening of celebrating, reminiscing, and emotions as many expressed deep appreciation of Ron’s friendship and family commitment.

The urge and tendency to “Roast” Ron took a back seat to heartfelt feelings. Even the “real men” were sometimes fighting back the tears, and we won’t name them, but they know who they are.

All we can say to Ron is “Happy, Happy Birthday,” and wish him many more. And by the way Ron, you can start believing what Paula tells you again, at least until your next Birthday!

A Slide Show of additional photos from Ron's party can be seen at

Happy Birthday Val Brown

Now it’s Val Brown’s turn! No one in their right mind would try to surprise Val. Besides, she is one of the “Birthday Club” that gets together the Birthday of each member. Although it wasn’t a surprise, as usual, big fun was had by all. So Happy Birthday Val for another one, but who is counting? A Slide Show of additional photos from Val's party can be seen at

Congratulations to Deacon Ronald Andrew

Congratulations to Deacon Ronald Andrew who was recently ordained at the New Testament Deliverance Church in Washington, DC. A photo and the program of Deacon Andrew's Ordination can be seen at

Congratulations to Deacon William Spencer, Jr.

Congratulations to Deacon William Spencer, Jr. who was recently ordained at East Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Photos and video of Deacon Spencer's Ordination can be seen at

Congratulations to Rev. Larry Macon, Jr.

CONGRATULATIONS to Rev. Larry Macon, Jr. on the Completion of his Masters of Theology. Rev. Macon Jr. is an Associate Pastor at the Mt. Zion Church of Oakwood Village, in Oakwood Village, Ohio. Mt. Zion's Pastor is Rev. Dr. Larry L. Macon, Sr.

Christmas Cards - An Economical Alternative

If your closets, crawl spaces, attics and spare rooms are cluttered, you are not alone. In a society accustomed to excess, some of that excess can be attributed to Christmas Gifts. No, I’m not a Scrooge, but if you (1) Have any unused (or unwanted) gifts lying around, or (2) Discarded any of the same during the past year, or (3) Reluctantly give some gifts only because you think those people will to give you one, or (4) Are still paying off the credit card (principal and interest) from last year’s overindulgence; then say Amen and try to take this message in context.

In these economically challenging times, it is especially important to re-visit what we expect of ourselves and others, and re-evaluate our priorities. We have available a large selection of a reasonably priced alternative for showing how much you care.

We have an extensive collection of Christmas and other greeting cards available on-line through our web site at (saves time, money, and scheduling) or if you live within our service area and prefer personal contact, we have several catalogues you can browse through. The Deadline for ordering is Saturday, November 28th. PLEASE, call us today at 216-348-4612 for an appointment or visit the web site above.

The Wedding

Weddings are always special, almost always expensive, and usually stressful. We are here to keep them special, minimize the expense, and reduce the stress. What better ways to reduce the stress than by beginning the planning process early and minimizing the expense? What better time in a young person’s life to help them learn planning and budgeting than during the process of wedding planning? Of course a better time for them to have learned would have been prior to now, but it most instances, that has not been the case.

Whether you are the Bride-to-Be, Groom-to-Be, the involved (and paying) parents or grandparents, Wedding Planner, or concerned friend or associate, please see what we have to offer before making one of the largest financial and emotional decisions of a lifetime. We have been providing top quality invitations, announcements and accessories at reasonable prices for over twenty-eight years. We can save you a minimum of 20% off your purchase while providing the benefit of our experience and genuine concern.

Give us a call at 216-348-4612. You can enjoy even greater savings and the convenience of ordering from your own home by accessing our huge on-line selection at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Your Comments

If you tried to add a comment to this blog earlier today and were unable to, please forgive us. We forgot to change the Default Comment Setting to "Allow anyone to reply." You should be able to add comments now with no problem. If you do have a problem, please let us know at And a BIG THANK YOU to Jo Ann Ford for letting us know about the problem.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Living Life to the MAX!

By: Willie Johnson, Performance Improvement and Training Consultant

Living to the “MAX” means competing with you – and you alone. Therefore, throughout life, in all that you do, pursue your purpose, not someone else’s.

On a regular basis, I emphasize to my one and only daughter Andrea, that she should live life to the max and pursue her purpose - on her terms and not someone else’s. (Smiles), like many other parents, I get push back (you know what I mean) but, I persist with my mission by sharing lesson’s I have learned from life; in the hope that she would endure less struggles; as she continues on her life journey.

Through this short article - I will share with you, three of the philosophies I learned (sometimes the hard way) and passed on to my daughter. Knowledge of these philosophies has been beneficial to me and my daughter as well. I am certain that if you embrace these philosophies, they will be beneficial to you also; in your quest to living life to the max, and pursuing your purpose.

Number 1: Push Negativity From Your Life: It has been said that there are two types of people in the world. There are positive people and there are negative people. Look at your circle of friends. If someone is constantly belittling your dreams, then recognize that person as a dream buster and a drawback to your achievements and purpose. If someone causes you to employ self-destructive tendencies, acknowledge that person is not a friend. Accept that you must push away such negative people from your life. Why? Life is too short to waste a single moment on negative people. Life is also too precious to waste it with those who wear you down, rather than build you up. Therefore; prune away negative people, thinking, and habits from your life.

Number 2: Put Positive People into Your Life: Too often we feel that we have to or must face our problems alone. We are not comfortable admitting our pain, inexperience, or lack of resources. In other words – “pride” (ole ego) gets in the way. When we shut others out, at the same time, we shut ourselves in. Too many of us are trying to cope alone, when we would be much better off if we would just reach out for help. (I personally learned that lesson the hard way – but never again) If we embrace the first philosophy of letting negative people go from our life, that would open the way for us to receive positive people into our lives. Therefore; don’t be too proud to ask for help, particularly from those who are wiser, older, more experienced, and maintain a positive outlook on life. Pull into your life positive, supportive, networking, like-minded people who nurture you and your dreams.

Number 3: Pursue Your Purpose – Not Someone Else’s: Inside every one of us is a deep call of destiny. All of us have a unique purpose; for which we are called. Therefore, living life to the MAX requires that we understand that our success in life is not measured by how much we have accomplished compared to what we could have accomplished. Instead, our success in life is what we have accomplished compared to what we could have accomplished with our talents and potential.

All that glitters is not gold. We (society) desperately need individuals who will be true to their purpose, not the purpose of others – while living their life to the “MAX”.

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Youth & Young Adult Corner - Staying in School

Getting out of school any way that you can sometimes seems to be the most important thing in the lives of many teenagers. Unfortunately, the “Getting out” and the “any way” overrides logic, reason, and the pleas of many a wise and experienced parent, counselor, friend or relative.

Steven Crudup is an excellent example of someone who stayed the course and graduated from high. Since that time he has experienced the world and much of what it has to offer, helped to defend this nation, and is now looking forward to, YES, returning to school. After completing high school Steven volunteered for a tour with the U.S. Marines. I personally don’t know why it is called a tour. My definition of a tour is something fun and leisurely. I can’t tell someone else what fun is to them, but leisurely requires a very big stretch of the imagination. Anyway, a Daniel Webster I am not, so I will get back to the point of this article.

Steven has traveled virtually around the world and experienced situations that most people can only dream about. In addition to traveling to various parts of the United States, Steven has been in far off places such as Dubai and Bahrain in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Spain and Italy. Knowing just a little bit about the military, I am sure he has been to places he may never reveal. Steven has spent time aboard the famed USS Iwo Jima, and no doubt felt the emotions of being on a vessel whose name represents a proud but bloody period in American History.

Despite and after all of that, Steven has decided that when his “tour of duty” is over in December he will return to SCHOOL! Actually that is not totally true. Steve cannot wait to get back into school, so during his last days as a proud U.S. Marine, he has already taken three courses on line and is carrying an “A” average!

While some of you cannot wait to get out, Steve cannot wait to get back in. The point is (especially as pertains to seniors), you are so close to experiencing and enjoying the fruits of an education that many would and are dying for. Please exercise the patience and wisdom that will complete the strong educational foundation you must rely on the rest of your life.

Glenville High Classes of 1959 50 Year Reunion

Cleveland’s Glenville High School Classes of 1959 recently celebrated their Fifty Year Reunion, and I decided that I must share in at least part of the weekend festivities. I tell people that because of a threatened TKO, I did not actually attend Glenville. Those who follow the sport of boxing, and many who don’t, realize that TKO is the abbreviation for Technical Knockout. A Technical Knockout is the best I could have hoped for if I had attempted to go against my mother’s instructions that I should attend Cleveland Trade School (now Max S. Hayes) instead of Glenville. It wasn’t that my mother didn’t care for Glenville, but in 1956 when the decision was to be made about what school to attend, there was not a lot of promise on the horizon for entering into the job market that suddenly opened up for minorities less than ten years later.

My mother’s decision was that I would attend Cleveland Trade School where I could learn a trade and in her words “stay out of trouble.” My mother knew a lot, but she didn’t know the about the 300 plus students at Cleveland Trade School that did not look like me, and in many cases did not like my looks, even before we met. Anyway, I and my less than one dozen equally challenged African American brothers survived the experience, and now my explanation to my “almost” Glenville classmates is complete. It was not my fault!

I did have the good fortune to grow up in the Glenville area and attend Empire Junior High School, so I knew many people at the reunion. For those unfamiliar with the era, the late 1950’s ushered in Glenville’s long and proud tradition as a school that produced legendary sports figures. While at Empire I loved to run, and with people around me like Nate Adams, Victor Reed, Renaldo Reed, and Major Calhoun, I spent a lot of time looking at the back of those who ran track. But I would not quit! Little did I know that I was in training for Cleveland Trade School!

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing classmates, some of whom I had not seen in over fifty-three years. It was a fond reminder of what in many ways, was a kinder and gentler world. Those memories have helped me survive and prosper against many a challenge that I could not have imagined. Those who are no longer with us left an empty spot, but it was a reminder that we are not here to stay, and if we are here, it must be for a reason.

I was equally troubled as I wondered what reunions might be like fifty years from now. So many young people are not graduating. Today, many young people are becoming the perpetrators or victims of senseless violence. What will help take them through the challenges of adulthood? What will they celebrate fifty years after high school?

While the purpose of the reunion was to re-connect with old classmates, it also renewed that underlying need to continue to work with, set an example for, and inspire our youth. So to my fellow Glenville “Classmates,” we have work that is yet undone. Keep the torch lit Tarblooders!

Our Family Reunion

In the early nineteen seventies, a young lady had a dream, or more appropriately, it might be called a vision, which then became a plan. Sadly, the family lost the dreamer and visionary at the early age of thirty-six. She was a beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend and so much more to so many. Yet the dream, the vision and the plan proved to be the foundation of what to this point has become 36 consecutive years of family reunions. In 1974, while still immersed in the shock and grief of the untimely passing of Synnia Solomon, the Ford-Bryson Chapter was formed in Cleveland, Ohio. It was there that the first family reunion was successfully planned and executed. Words of reflection and challenge from the family web site at summarize from where we came and where we are today.

The Dreamer had a VISION of a FamilyUnited in faith and joined in love.And the Dreamer began the foundation,but before the 1st Reunion she responded to an even Higher Calling.In 1974 The Dream lived on with the formationof the FORD-BRYSON Reunion.TODAY The DREAM LIVES ON because others believed in the Dream and The Dreamer.When today is viewed in a historical perspective, let it be said that THE DREAM CONTINUED BECAUSE OF YOU!

Visiting the web site offers even more of what is possible with family. In late July of this year, family members and friends traveled from all areas of the country to help celebrate the thirty-sixth annual reunion. The event, hosted by the Florida Chapter, took place in beautiful Sarasota on Florida’s picturesque Western Gulf Coast.

I’ve been blessed to attend all thirty-six reunions, and you would think by now I would be either bored, or not surprised, or both. The truth is that there is always something new, something inspiring, something earth-shaking in the experience of so many family and friends coming together to celebrate. From the silky soft sand of Siesta Key Beach, to the rap version of the Family History shared by my sister Jean, her husband Emmanuel, and several young family members, there were new ways to celebrate life and appreciate each other.

This year, several weeks before the reunion we were treated to the good news that our family had suddenly grown due to the locating of a new “branch.” Barbara Williams, a member of the founding chapter, using intuition and the marvels of technology, connected with a descendant of Peter Brison (or Bryson). When the reunion was started in 1974, the whereabouts of Peter were a mystery to the founding members, and therefore we had no contact with his descendants. That all changed due to Barbara’s efforts, and not only was contact made, but two descendants of Peter scrambled to make last minute plans to attend the reunion.

As you might imagine, Ruth Jones and Sharon Simpson were welcomed with open arms, and they certainly showed the love in return. We are anxiously looking forward to learning more about their past reunions and meeting more of our family. Our thanks to Tracie Brison who helped connect Barbara to Ruth and Sharon.

Tracie, Joan and Sharon have in a way been responsible for our family’s recent spike in the empowering field of genealogy. Considering how much work and time can be invested in the study of genealogy, I have avoided becoming involved in that area. My sister Jean recently sent me a copy of a 1930 Census Report listing our father along with his parents, siblings, and Hansie Solomon, our oldest living relative and a former slave.

The mental picture that was created from the thought of how close I came to slavery kept me awake most of that night, and has impacted my thoughts since then. The thoughts that emanate from that vision are frightening, but also potentially empowering. The empowerment is in the strength and resolve of our people and in the goodness of God.

Another notable trend in our reunion as we become visible to the on-line world, including our presence on FACEBOOK, is that we have begun to touch people worldwide. Thanks to the ability to track the geographical location of our web site visitors, we have noted people spending time viewing our web site in such diverse places as Canada, China, India, South Africa, and even from Ummul Qura University in Saudi Arabia. This assures me that in addition to positively impacting family, friends and visitors from the United States, we have become a model of sorts for people around the world. This is quite an accomplishment from a people that less than one-hundred and fifty years ago were enslaved.
Even as we celebrated, our thoughts and prayers included those who were unable to join us because of the economy, illness, or even those who have passed on. Our thoughts were with family members who could not be with us because of being involved in efforts to help others. Such was the case of Angela Walker who tragically lost her son Joshua Broomfield to senseless gang violence during the past year. In the midst of her pain and suffering, she chose to participate in a Survivors Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, designed as part therapy and also to discover ways of turning some of life’s tragic moments into opportunities for self-help and helping others.

The oldest family members attending the reunion were acknowledged. With homes in Cleveland and Detroit respectively, Charlie “C.W.” Ford and Willie Ann Huff demonstrated that distance traveled would not keep them from the festivities.

Before the close of our celebration, we were assured that the dream would indeed continue, with the family reunion being hosted by the Detroit Chapter in 2010, and the California Chapter in 2011. Our founder, Synnia Solomon, and all those whose memories we cherish, must be looking down from their Heavenly Home with pride at what has occurred and what is planned for the future. The continuation of the work they began is proof that their efforts are appreciated, that the goals they sought were reasonable, that the challenge is worth it, that the dream lives on, and that there is no limit to what is possible.

Visit our web site at and experience what has been recorded for the enjoyment, the education, and the hope for this and future generations.


A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Jimmy and Barbara Cozart who recently celebrated their birthdays with a combined party. Friends and relatives from as far away as Georgia joined the happy couple in the joyous occasion.


Reflecting upon the cover article by guest contributor Willie Johnson, Jackie McDonald’s Retirement party included many stories of her “Living to the Max” by her involvement and contributions to her family, to her career, to her church and to her community. The huge turnout was a testament to her many accomplishments, but beyond those accomplishments, were the even more moving and touching stories of how she impacted the lives of others.

It was clear that during Jackie’s career the choices she made while following her objectives, almost always provided service, comfort and inspiration to others. Guests travelled from many parts of the country to show their love and appreciation for Jackie. And there are few people who can boast of having the mayor of their community attend their retirement party. One of Jackie’s outstanding qualities is that of being humble, so you may not hear that boast from her. In fact, as a demonstration of her thoughtfulness and her attention to detail, the Thank You Note arrived at our home just days after this fantastic affair. And Yes, Jackie’s Thank You was handwritten and signed, but I removed the signature for our newsletter publication.

We congratulate Jackie on a successful career and we are preparing ourselves for even greater things in the future.

Saving at Christmas

If your closets, crawl spaces, attics and spare rooms are cluttered, you are not alone. In a society accustomed to excess, some of that excess can be attributed to Christmas Gifts. No, I’m not a Scrooge, but if you (1) Have any unused (or unwanted) gifts lying around, or (2) Discarded any of the same during the past year, or (3) Reluctantly give some gifts only because you think those people will to give you one, or (4) Are still paying off the credit card (principal and interest) from last year’s overindulgence; then say Amen and try to take this message in context.

In these economically challenging times, it is especially important to re-visit what we expect of ourselves and others, and re-evaluate our priorities. We have available a large selection of a reasonably priced alternative for showing how much you care.

We have an extensive collection of Christmas and other greeting cards available on-line through our web site at (saves time, money, and scheduling) or if you live within our service area and prefer personal contact, we have several catalogues you can browse through. If you plan to order through our catalogue, additional savings and bonus offers are available if we can schedule you to complete your order before September 27th. But PLEASE, call us today at 216-348-4612 for an appointment.

The Wedding

Weddings are always special, almost always expensive, and usually stressful. We are here to keep them special, minimize the expense, and reduce the stress. What better ways to reduce the stress than by beginning the planning process early and minimizing the expense? What better time in a young person’s life to help them learn planning and budgeting than during the process of wedding planning? Of course a better time for them to have learned would have been prior to now, but it most instances, that has not been the case.

Whether you are the Bride-to-Be, Groom-to-Be, the involved (and paying) parents or grandparents, Wedding Planner, or concerned friend or associate, please see what we have to offer before making one of the largest financial and emotional decisions of a lifetime. We have been providing top quality invitations, announcements and accessories at reasonable prices for over twenty-eight years. We can save you a minimum of 20% off your purchase while providing the benefit of our experience and genuine concern.

Give us a call at 216-348-4612. You can enjoy even greater savings and the convenience of ordering from your own home by accessing our huge on-line selection at