Despite experiencing overwhelming challenges these past years, there are so many among us who are grateful for small blessings, and the joy that breaking bread and being together brings us over the holidays. This month, TheHUB celebrates the memories and food traditions we’re building together.
Flint native and Peace Corps. volunteer Ashley Hamilton, who spent four years in Mozambique, South Africa, says, despite all the bad things we see about people in the media, there is good. “I am most grateful for good people who do good things and bring positivity back to their community,” she says.
Ann Pierret, a reporter at ABC12 – WJRT, is most thankful for her mom – for her constant love and for the example she set for her to follow.
“I am most thankful this year for my Mom,” she says. “Even hundreds of miles away in Texas she is always sure to make sure I’m okay. If for some reason she can’t answer my call, she seems to find the next free moment to get back to me. A few weeks ago I had a health scare and she flew up to take care of me for the weekend. She really is incredible! I am grateful not only for her constant love, but also for her example. I am who I am and where I am today because of her influence and never-ending support.”
Pierret is also thankful for the time she spends with her family at Thanksgiving, her favorite holiday.
“My favorite tradition happens on that day. I love Thanksgiving because there is no stress or pressure to the day. You don’t have to purchase the perfect gift and there’s no specific time frame when the events of the day have to fall. I just get to spend the whole day with my family!
“Every year growing up, I would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, specifically for the Rockettes. And then, we would go see a movie. There’s normally no one there, so we’d get the whole theater to ourselves, all 10 of us! We’d try not to each too much popcorn, so we didn’t spoil our turkey dinner. But, I think we were already prepared to eat as much as we could that day.
“When the movie was over, we’d head over to my Grandma’s to eat dinner, watch the Cowboys and play games all night. It’s just so relaxing and nice to have everyone together!”
Bushels and Peck’s Produce Owner Clinton Peck is grateful for the time he has been given and believes in making the most of it.
“Life is too short and precious to waste,” he says. “Surround yourself with great company and good food. Live, laugh, eat and love.”
Speaking of love, Clinton takes every opportunity he can to spread his passion for preparing great-tasting vegetables. His favorite preparation tip? Roast ’em to bring out their sweet taste.
First Lady Irma Stewart
House of Prayer Full Gospel Church First Lady Irma Stewart is grateful for the support of her husband, who is a wonderful role model for their children, the church and the community. She’s also grateful to her amazing church family, where she found extended “mothers, sisters and children.” Her favorite tradition and memory is eating family meals together.
“I don’t know many families who do this any longer. I tried to keep this tradition in my family. When we have the opportunity to entertain or have the family home, they know dinner will not be served until everyone is present and the table has been blessed,” she says.
Flint Neighborhoods United President Carma Lewis is grateful for family.
“I’m most grateful for the presence of the people who have the power to irritate me more than anyone else in this world. I call them family because I cannot imagine life without them,” she laughs.
Everyone puts down the digital devices at her holiday celebration and concentrates on each other, and the good food on the table.
Alvin Brown, TheHUB’s photographer and videographer, is grateful for the opportunity to capture the faces and places that personify Flint’s resiliency.
“I’ve experienced so much professional and personal growth this past year,” he says. “Many doors and opportunities have been opened to me that pushed me to become a different and better person than I’ve ever been. With so many supporters advancing my career and personal development, I feel more confident in pushing through challenges and am discovering new strengths every day.
“There are so many outstanding people in this city and I will be forever grateful for their life-changing support, including my Dad, Alvin Brown, Sr. Dad can really put out a fierce banana pudding. It’s particularly tasty during the holidays when it’s served alongside all our other homemade favorites!”
Flint Soup Director Adrian Monatgue’s family takes a moment to reflect on the things they are grateful for at their family gatherings. It’s important, because “it’s a chance to voice everything we experience every day but sometimes let the moment pass.”
Latesha Flowers Flint resident Latesha Flowers is most grateful for waking up to her children every morning. “After losing a child to gun violence, it really wakes you up to what’s most important in life and that’s God first and family second.” Her son, Atiba Kwame Wells, was shot and killed last year. She loves making ornaments and s’mores with her babies over the Christmas holidays, building memories and witnessing their innocence and excitement.
Stacy Swimp, TheHUB columnist and special projects coordinator, is grateful for fatherhood and the blessing of his son, Christian Micha. Although being a dad at this stage in his life was unexpected, Stacy says, the experience has been a blessing that has helped him understand the meaning of true love and sacrifice.
His favorite food memory? Well that’s simple for Stacy, a native of North Charleston, S.C. Several times during the summer of his youth, he and momma (his grandmother Gertrude Fludd, who raised him), bought and cooked up a bushel of blue shell crabs with bay seasoning, corn and sausage.
“Then, it was time to throw down,” says Stacy. “I learned how to crack crab shells and eat crab by the age of five. There was nothing like those days of eating crab with my uncles, auntie and momma. To this day, that’s what I miss the most — being back with family.”
This year, and every year, Lottie Ferguson, ardent youth champion and director of grants and development at Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, is most grateful for family.
“There is nothing quite like the unconditional love they give. No matter how hectic my day is, the cheeky grins and hugs from the children and warm embrace from my husband are the ultimate pick-me-ups,” she says.
“I am grateful the Lord chose them to be in my life, and I am continually prayerful I can be exactly what He needs me to be for them,” she says.
One of her favorite holiday traditions is people -watching over a hot cup of coffee at the mall on Christmas Eve.
“I try to spot people who look like they are having a hard time and offer to help,” she says. “Sometimes the help is just a cup of coffee or to help them decide the best last-minute gift. Other times, it is paying for something their child wants and they can’t afford.”
What Are You Fighting For champion Melissa Mays is most grateful for her family, friends and the resiliency of Flint residents.
“I’m grateful to live in a city with so much life, vibrancy and fighting spirit,” she says. “Watching people come together through the toughest times and come out better together makes me proud and grateful.”
Pastor George Wilkinson
Pastor George Wilkinson is extremely grateful for three things – faith, family and his church following at Word of Life Christian Church.
“Asking Sophia to marry me has been one of the best decisions I ever made,” he says. “And the union has brought many blessings, including our beautiful family.”
Tanja Hill, owner of Pristine Baskets and Gifts, is grateful for the time she’s been able to spend with her two young granddaughters – being present, playing and making memories. Among her favorite family traditions and memories is being together with her siblings’ families at Christmas dinner and watching her mother’s happiness in seeing her children and grandchildren eat a meal she so lovingly prepared.
Get a taste of our city’s emerging food culture at Savor the Flavor of Flint, a community-wide celebration of home cooks and area chefs featuring celebrity-led cooking demonstrations and entertainment, tastings, pop-up shops and dynamic discussions about the power of good foods.
The event, presented by the Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and TheHUB, along with sponsors AARP Michigan, Comcast Internet Essentials, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, and the Ruth Mott Foundation will take place on Jan. 27, 2018 at the Dort Event Center. Learn more at: SavortheFlavorFlint.com