Monday, July 30, 2012

Why 'stoof'?

When I attended a past Unity People's Convention a few years back, the Rev. John A.V. Strickland of Atlanta presented a talk about 'stoof' - it is Scottish for the word 'stuff'. He explained the stoof that he learned over the years and that word stuck with me. Here is the 'stoof' which has made me over the years in the Unity Movement:

In 1986, I first attended Unity Church of Jacksonville as the guest of a family friend. From day one, the Youth Education Department impressed my sister and me with their unconditional love and their beautiful lessons. Although we were committed to another church at the time, we convinced our mother to bring us back to UCJ on a regular basis.

Over the years, I went through the Sunday school, Uniteens (junior high class) and the Youth of Unity (high school class). Thanks to the likes of June Stimler, Judy Klein, Rev. Joe Rowe, Roma Cox and others, I evolved from a shy boy who did not speak until he was six years old into a confident young man who served as historian, treasurer, vice president and then president of his YOU chapter. During this time, Unity's Contact magazine chose me to be the 'YOUer of the Month' in the summer of 1990.

Upon graduating from high school, I entered college at South Georgia College in Douglas, Georgia where I majored in journalism and minored in sociology. I was the editor-in-chief of The South Georgian student newspaper and the yearbook at SGC. I also was elected vice president of the Student Government Association and was elected Best All Around Male. For my junior year of college, transferred to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida and served as the news editor of The Spinnaker student newspaper.

When I graduated from UNF, I joined the United States Air Force and worked in Bioenvironmental Engineering where I was responsible for enforcing OSHA and EPA regulations at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. As an Air Force medic, I became HAZMAT certified and earned credits through the Community College of the Air Force. During my spare time, I volunteered as a certified tax preparer and as an instructor for Junior Achievement.

When I left the Air Force, I returned to Jacksonville and was inspired, based on my Junior Achievement work, to teach school. After substitute teaching and entering the Teacher Induction Program (TIP), I was hired to teach gifted social studies at Mayport Middle School in Atlantic Beach in October 2002. I was fortunate to be chosen by my peers to be teacher of the year in 2005.

Once I was back at my church, Unity Church of Jacksonville, my minister asked me to help teach the Uniteens class and to accompany our YOU students to international conference at Unity Village, Missouri. From there, I worked with the Uniteens and YOUers, eventually being hired as the Youth Education Director. This has been the most fulfilling part of my Unity path because I had the chance to give back to the people who served as surrogate parents for me.

Today, I am president of the Board of Directors of my church and have served on the board nine of the past ten years - and have been board president seven of the past eight. I have attended the Unity People's Convention three times and I had the honor of being the guest speaker at Unity Church of Gainesville, Florida.

I hope that this brief bio explains my background. This has been an interesting path and I am grateful for my prosperity and abundance every day!

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