DAPHNE – Eastern Shore residents and officials celebrated the blessings of the last year, despite challenges including COVID-19, storms and other setbacks.
The Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce sponsored the annual Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, May 6 at the Daphne Civic Center as part of National Day of Prayer commemorations around the country.
Fairhope Mayor Sherry Sullivan, Daphne Mayor Robin LeJeune and Spanish Fort Mayor Mike McMillan said they and the region have much for which to give thanks.
“What a blessing it is to have all of y’all here in this room together,” LeJeune said. “There are other parts of the country that aren’t able to do that. We are truly blessed here in our little slice of heaven to come together in fellowship. We’re blessed that our kids are in school today. We are blessed that our kids have been in school. We are blessed with a year that has been very difficult, but we have had prosperity and have been able to get together, so I just want to thank God for all those many blessings.”
LeJeune said the Eastern Shore is also an area where local officials communicate and work together.
“I want to thank the mayors, Mike and Sherry for the support,” LeJeune said. “We’ve had numerous conversations. We’ve gotten together to talk about things that have gone on in the Eastern Shore and the county. It’s great to have that connection where we can reach out to each other and discuss what’s going on in our great cities and working together to make the Eastern Shore such a great place.”
Before being elected Fairhope mayor in 2020, Sullivan worked as a member of the Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast Committee for more than 20 years. She said prayer is important every day, not just on the National Day of Prayer.
“Today is like every other day. Each morning, I pray to God to give me the wisdom, the guidance and the strength needed to make good decisions and to be the leader that Fairhope deserves. I pray that the people I serve, and I work with show me mercy, grace and have patience,” Sullivan said.
“Today, I want to remind each one of you to thank God for the blessings of community for the beauty of the Eastern Shore and for the blessings of family and friends,” she added.
McMillan praised the first responders and other city employees taking part in the event. He said all area residents are blessed to live in the area.
“I’m certainly grateful to be here among you all. I want to thank the chamber for this event that brings us together to count our blessings as one nation under God,” McMillan said. “We are truly blessed to live in this great nation, but also doubly privileged to live in the state of Alabama and we are extremely fortunate to be here in Baldwin County, not to mention the best part of the county, on the Eastern Shore.”
He said that in order to continue that greatness, people need to come together.
We must come together as one nation,” McMillan said. “Put aside any differences that we have had in order to achieve the greatness that we should all strive for.”
Birmingham lawyer Liz Huntley, the main speaker at the event, said the country is going through difficult times, including racial unrest as well as COVID-19. She had COVID-19 for three weeks and her adoptive father died from the virus.
“I would dare say there isn’t an individual in this room who wasn’t somehow affected by the pandemic that occurred, that’s continuing to occur, hopefully subsiding, in this country right now,” Huntley said. “It has truly affected all of us in some kind of way and for some, the worst way, a loss of life for family members or friends or people who they care about.”
She said areas such as the Eastern Shore have not experienced as much trauma as some other regions of the country.
“Most of you live in this area, which is somewhat of a bubble,” she said. “It really is, and I don’t condemn you for that. You’re entitled to. It’s just like me choosing to send my child to a private school. You’re entitled to your resources and your money and your talent. You’re entitled live where you want to live, have the things you want to have, to be in the community that you want to be in and you are so blessed for that.”
Huntley was named to the National Black Lawyers – Top 100 organization and is president and co-founder of the Hope Institute, an organization that helps schools build a culture of character for their students. She said, however, that she began life as the child of drug dealers in a Huntsville housing project. Her mother had five children by four men in five years.
After her father went to prison and her mother killed herself, Huntley and her sister were sent to live with their grandmother. She said the help of others helped turn her life around. She said everyone has that obligation to help others.
“Remind yourself daily that your talents, they’re not for you. They’re not for you,” Huntley said. “Your talents exist to serve others. There is only one commandment that Jesus left with us and that was to love one another. That’s it.”