By: Tony McCray
The Mother Wit Institute, under the guidance of Georgia and Johnny Blackmon, has ushered in the Ninth Annual Youth Leadership Banquet. The youth leadership development experience was created by the Blackmons in 1996. The purpose of the annual affair is to instill in our young people that they can do exactly what their leadership banquet speakers have accomplished in their careers.
The past speakers have included Attorney Gerald McKenzie, a Personal Injury Counselor and Attorney here in Pensacola, who is a national speaker. McKenzie presented his career success as an example for the youth to become inspired for their own future professional possibilities. Bentina Terry, Gulf Power’s Vice President of Customer Service and Sales, brought her story to the annual banquet to encourage the young people in the same manner. Walter Gulley, a leader of the Masonic Order in the State of Florida serving as Most Worshipful Grand Master, is also on the list of impressive speakers that the Mother Wit Institute has exposed to youth aged 13 years of age and up.
This year’s banquet Guest Speaker was Verdell Hawkins, Community Relations Manager for Gulf Power Company. Hawkins oversees Gulf Power’s services related to charitable giving and community engagement. Hawkins provided similar professional services to Mississippi Power as Community Affairs Manager coordinating community and governmental relations in East Central Mississippi. His experiences included Community Affairs Manager for the Kemper Energy Facility (a major Mississippi Power facility) and as an economic development representative for the power company where he traveled domestically and internationally.
He gave the young people strategic advice in a very simple presentation style. They were to 1.) Honor God and Acknowledge Him in Your Life, 2.) Avoid Negative Influences, 3.) Surround Yourself with Positive Influences, 4.) Set Goals, 5.) Never Give Up. His words of advice were short, simple, and strategic and made an impact on the youth and the adults.