HAZARD — Hazard Community and Technical (HCTC) held its annual Martin Luther King Jr. community breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church on Monday. The guest speaker was Dr. Karen P. Wright from Berea.
The main theme of the breakfast was service to others
HCTC President Dr. Jennifer Lindon welcomed those in attendance to the event. Dr. Lindon recognized Hazard City Mayor Lindon, City Manager Grady Varney, Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander, City Commissioner Lawrence Dew Gorman and Sen. Brandon Smith. Both Hazard Police Department (HPD) Chief Minor Allen and Hazard Fire Department (HFD) Fire Chief Sam Stacy were also honored during the introduction.
Veterans of the armed forces were also honored and recognized.
She also thanked the community members who made the breakfast possible. Dr. Lindon said many of the community members spent the night before the breakfast cooking and also spent early Monday morning cooking.
Dr. Lindon said it is important for the community to be united because of the uncertainty of the years to come. She was excited to see the community come together and honor King.
Alongside honoring King, Dr. Lindon said it was important to also honor President Barack Obama.
“We are also honoring President Barack Obama and his wish for inner-faith cooperation. He wants all faiths to work together for the common good,” said Dr. Lindon.
Dr. Lindon saw Obama’s wish for inner-faith cooperation by seeing the different churches in Perry County coming together to honor King and working together for the common good.
Jenny Williams gave a rundown of the events scheduled for King Day. One of the events was Red Cross installing smoke detectors in homes around Hazard. The other main event was a march in honor of King.
“Dr. Martin Luther King said ‘Life’s more persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?’ Right now I’m feeling really strongly that I’m in a room full of people who understand the importance of doing for others, who make our community stronger every day with their service,” said Williams.
Service Coordinator of Berea College Steve Jones introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Karen P. Wright.
“I would like to present to you someone who I’ve had become close to, someone’s whose compassion for success for our youth,” said Jones.
Dr. Wright said the best way for a person to find themselves is through their service to others.
“How many people have gone through a situation and you find yourself helping someone else. Somehow that situation you was going through doesn’t seem quite so big,” said Dr. Wright.
She said sometimes the best way to get rid of problems is by helping others.
“God has given us all unique talents. God has given us those unique talents to share with other people. It is through the sharing of those talents with other people that we learn our own worth and our own value. That is what our service to others should be about. What can we give to the next person to help them to be better,” said Dr. Wright.
The last part of her speech focused on why people should focus on serving others.
The first reason Dr. Wright said was to serve to discover abundance.
“How many times have you gotten out there to serve and you realized you knew more than what you thought you did? Until you impart that information or that talent to others. That is when you discover you have a lot more available to you than you realize. It is a stream that flows from you to others and then back to you,” said Dr. Wright.
Dr. Wright said the second reason to serve is to express gratitude.
“I serve because I am grateful for the things that someone else has done for me. For those people who have been put into my life, my gratitude makes me have to serve other people,” said Dr. Wright.
The third reason Dr. Wright gave to serve was to serve to transform yourself.
“The more you serve, the more you change. You can’t help but change,” said Dr. Wright.
The fourth reason to serve, Dr. Wright said, was to serve to honor our profound connection.
Dr. Wright said the final reason to serve was to align with national unfolding.
“We can never be fully who we should be until we serve. We have to serve. That is what we are defined to do. There is not something that is unnatural for us, it may feel unnatural to us, but again from the perspective that I give myself selflessly to others then I will feel that connectedness. I will feel joy and peace. No matter what comes my way, I will be OK,” said Dr. Wright.
At the end of the breakfast, HCTC Interim Provost/Vice President for Academic and Student Services honored the recognition of the John T. Smith Scholarship recipients.
Also honored by Ludrenia Hagans-Shepherd were the African-American educators that Hagans-Shepherd said were deleted during segregation.
Those teachers honored served in Knott County, Perry County, Lee County, and Breathitt County.
“These African-American teachers have not been replaced in our school systems and not in our college life as well,” said Hagans-Shepherd.
TJ Caudill is a reporter with The Hazard Herald. He can be reached at 606-629-3245.