Feature Image: Honorees for the Thirteenth Annual African American Prayer Breakfast are, from left to right, George Snelling III, Albert Earl Jr., Zenaje Liggons, Amirah Gibson, Kristen Conley, Rev. James Willis Sr. and Nadine Jessup.
BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
Their names may not be familiar to the community, outside of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, but to those who work there, those individuals’ help to make the day go easier. For that, seemingly, simple thing, they were honored at the 13th Annual African American Prayer Breakfast, held at Warren AME Church on Friday, July 14.
The prayer breakfast is held prior to, the Annual African American Parade, and festival, and it consists of a series of prayers by clergy, offered for five particular institutes, or events. Those prayers are offered are for the city, and its leaders, the churches, the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, the youth of Toledo, and the African American Festival.
In addition to the prayers, seven individuals were honored for specific things they do for the credit union, its staff, or events that are sponsored by the union. Those individuals were, eight year old, Amirah Gibson, nine year old, Zenaje Liggons, Kristin Conley, Albert Earl Jr., Nadine Jessup, George Snelling III, and Rev. James Willis Sr.
“We, at the credit union, believe in giving people their ‘flowers,’” an act that shows appreciation for what someone does, “while they’re still alive, and still, quietly working,” Suzette Cowell, CEO of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, told those gathered at the prayer breakfast.
One of the things done by the honorees is documenting all of the union’s events in pictures, for future posterities, which is done by Albert Earl Jr.
Other actions of the honorees that stood out included the work from the union’s youngest members, Amirah Gibson, and Zenaje Liggons. Both have accounts at the union, and are so well behaved and spoken, according to Ms. Cowell, that they had to be honored at the breakfast.
“I’m glad to be honored, and I thank you for letting me save my money,” Amirah told attendees after receiving her award.
“My friends talk about making money, I tell them I’m making money by saving it at the credit union,” Zenaje told the gathers. “They ask me do I get bored saving money, and I tell them nope,” he said.
After the prayer breakfast, Ms. Cowell introduced the Grand Marshalls of the parade, who were all young people who’ve gained national and some, international attention, and or success. Those Grand Marshals were, Deshone Kizer, former Central Catholic High School, and Notre Dame Quarterback, and recently drafted quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, Zia Cooke, Rogers High School junior, and recent Gold Medal winner for USA Team 16U, Robert Easter Jr., IBF Lightweight Champion of the World, Jared Johnson, USA Jr. Olympics, Jones Leadership Academy, nationally ranked chess team, Jody Webb, former Whitmer High School and Youngstown St. University running back, who’s in the training camp of the NFL San Diego Chargers, Brandon Allen of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Toledo Threat, WBCBL, Albert Prince Bell, UBC North American Champion, Soul City boxing Gym, Jerry Easter Jr., number 1 ranked fifth grade basketball player in the country, Wayne “Bam Bam” Wallace, number 1 ranked amateur youth boxer in Ohio, TJ Fatinikun, member of the NFL team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Nigel Hayes, former St. John Jesuit High School, and Wisconsin Badgers, basketball standout, and current member of the New York Nicks.
“I’m honored to have been asked to serve as one of the Grand Marshals,” Jody Webb told The Toledo Journal. “I’m always willing to give back to the community, in any way possible,” he said.
“It was an honored they asked me to serve as one of the Grand Marshals,” Zia Cooke said. “I want people, especially females, to know to never give up, and always chase your dreams,” she said.