How Can 16 years Go So Fast?
I remember selling my company in Philadelphia and moving to Charleston in late 2000. My wife, Lynn and I were married in Columbia but it didn’t seem the right place for us to retire. My plans were to learn to play the piano, paint and to play golf… and I did. But in the summer of 2001 I felt something missing from my life. I enjoyed the things I had pursued but was not fulfilled or very exceptional at any of them. One day I read an article in the Post and Courier talking about racial disparity in our city. I thought about the Philadelphia Annual Prayer Breakfast that I had participated in and some of the successful projects that had evolved from the breakfast. Many of the projects were joint ventures from the black and white communities teaming up. While they did not solve all of the problems in the city they certainly made a big dent.
I had heard Mayor Riley speak on several occasions and knew he had a reputation as someone that had bridged the gap between races. I approached the Mayor with the idea and he thought it would be great for the city. (1st God thing). The mayor gave me names of people (Maj General John Grinalds, Pat McKinney, Grange Cuthbert, Kitty Robinson, L Michael Grant, Dr. Allan Rashford, and Terry Seabrook) (2nd GOD thing) that he felt were leaders in the community that could help to bring the idea of a Prayer Breakfast to fruition. We both agreed that the initial group should be comprised of black, white, male, female, liberal, and conservative. Read More
Our first breakfast was in 2002 held at the Citadel. I hoped we could get 200 but low and behold 400+ showed up. Our biggest worry was the fire department because we were over the rooms capacity for sure.
The board and I had to try to do most of the lifting on that 1st breakfast but I knew that if we were to continue to grow it would require more help. Out of the blue Fred Whittle, COO of Jupiter Holding, volunteered to help with the details. (3rd GOD thing). Fred helped to take most of the load for the next 9 years until something had to give due to the growth of the breakfast and the sheer complexity of it.
When Fred and I were at our limits an angel appeared in the form of Kathryn Krogh. Kathryn had been looking for an opportunity to serve God and put to use her talents. This was truly a marriage made in heaven. (4th GOD thing). Can you believe at our hour of need someone appeared out of the blue with serious capabilities in administration, graphic design and a heart for our Lord. Kathryn helped us build the infrastructure of the Charleston Leadership Foundation that will take us to a new level.
Now, I loved the breakfast from the excitement of opening the mail and seeing a check from an unexpected sponsor, table leader, a new ticket holder to just walking into the convention center the morning of the breakfast and being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the room. I felt this is something I could do forever.
However age has a way of changing things. Looking at what is best for the breakfast I made the decision to begin looking for a potential successor. Fred Whittle was the first thought in mind but Fred quickly rejected that idea! We reviewed a lot of candidates over a period on 2+ years. But could not find someone willing to take a job where the salary was $0 or they did not have the time to allocate to the job or they were not free of conflicts.
Bob Nuttall, President of Lee & Associates, had been a long time supporter of CLF’s annual breakfast. I knew Bob loved the Lord and decided to ask him and, praise God, he expressed a strong interest for an opportunity to better serve the Lord. Bob reviewed our information and accepted the opportunity to replace me as President (5th GOD thing). Bob shadowed me for a year and the transition was completed at the 16th annual prayer breakfast held on November 9th, 2017. (As a footnote the 16th breakfast was the most successful ever and can be tributed to Bob Nuttall, Kathryn Krogh, Exec Director, and Fred Whittle, CFO and Byron Davis, Music Committee).
I have been honored to serve along with the members of our board and our staff who have become my best friends. The sponsorship by major companies has been overwhelming. I am thankful for the continued support of our table leaders which many of them have attended all of the last 16 breakfasts. The organizations we have helped directly and indirectly in their startups have included Be A Mentor, Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Lifeworks and God in the Workplace. These organizations have surpassed any expectations and are continuing to thrive today.
I want to thank everyone involved for their tremendous support and the gifts I was presented with at the 16th breakfast. It was the most amazing experience of my life and I will remember it forever.
I want to wish all a Blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Your servant in Christ,