Natural High

Happy Hump Day, All!

Yes, it is the middle of another week and the weekend is on the horizon! But still, two more days at work … then the company’s Christmas Party in Boca Raton, FL at Andrews … a fine upscale restaurant and bar where we had the fabulous party last year. I look forward to the ambiance there again this year, thanks to the owners of Plat Marketing Group.

Yesterday was an incredible day as I was fortunate enough to have presented to a group of youth from two local high schools here in Broward County, FL. The program is called Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders and it has received a handsome grant from the Federal Department of Education to heighten the academic awareness of the youth participating in this program directed by Ms. Patricia Lesesne and a most harmonious and tenacious staff! In the presentation at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in the FTL, there were both mentors and mentees. I had gotten there a bit early to get everything set for them as I planned to have a skit in the beginning from “American Gangster” to hammer home the issue of Stop the Violence as well as coordinate with Ms. Belvit, the AV person there at the library, the cues for music which included Keiko Matsui and Peter White. As the approximately 100 strong group of youth arrived, I could feel the energy in them and planned to get them involved a.s.a.p., as is my format for the presentations and workshops. Mr. Shorter, Ms. Lesesne’s assistant in her absence, had had copies of the material prepared for each of the youth participating, and had organized the remaining details for their arrival by bus to the AARLCC.

The joy came when, after introducing myself, I asked several of them to represent their schools and tell ME what part they played and what help they had gotten by participating in this program. The results were impressive. Our interactions were honest, humorous, humble and heart-warming just to name a few! As I shared on the topic of Embracing Diversity and learning Spanish in 7th grade as well as going to St. Paul’s, I had asked who else knew Spanish from the group and why they decided to study and learn it. One young lady from Belize, Mary, raised her hand and when I called her up, witnessed one of tomorrow’s leaders for SURE! Her eloquence in answering my question as well as her answer and her level of confidence in speaking as she was a senior mentor literally gave me a “high” that I had not expected. One young lady, Brittany Hibbert, even suggested that I have students like her tour with me to tell more about what the youth are experiencing in their lives and communities as well as at school!

With a well prepared handout that had more than we actually covered, and the fact that copies of my first book were waiting for the youth upon Ms. Lesesne’s return, the level of excitement and participation was hard to contain! Once finished and after having pictures taken by Ms. Shirley Baker, who is an old friend of my sister Edna who also graduated from Florida A & M, and bidding fond adieus, I organized my material and continued on this natural high until arriving home and relaxing a bit! In my honest opinion, it was a great success.

So, in closing this note, I wish you all a fine day and rest of the week!

Peace always,

John I. Cook, Director

Monday, Monday ….

Happy Monday, All!

I can only say that I have been without internet since this past Friday night!!! It is strange now that this is something that so many people rely on for instant communications which we depend on to disseminate necessary information.

For example, this morning, I got a call from Washington, D.C. around 7:30AM …. Are you thinking yet who that call might be from? No, it wasn’t the President nor his wife, who also graduated from Princeton. It was Ms. Patricia Lesesne who is there on business but is also the person who is making possible my presentation to the group of youth from her group, Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders, Tuesday December 6th (tomorrow) at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL. from 2:15pm to 4:15pm. I met Ms. Lesesne through one of her former students from South Plantation High School here in Broward County, FL, Mr. Francois Luis.

By the time I got to work, from which I am writing this e-mail, there was an e-mail from her with all the details for successfully completing tomorrow’s event, which is big for me, but just another item on her plate, so to speak! I am grateful … and excited. Of course, the last minute stuff to handle, since Ms. Lesesne is in D.C., generates an adrenaline rush that “timely accomplishments” often ignite! And, yes … we are expecting several hundred students from two different high schools who will be attending as part of a field trip!

After a great weekend, and, the company’s Christmas party this coming Friday, I am more than happy to be present today. Comcast is scheduled to re-hook up my internet tomorrow morning, which is their earliest availability so I should be back in business, so to speak.

Have a great Monday …


John I. Cook, Director

Responsibility and Happiness

Happy Friday, All!

Today, I won’t hesitate to say T.G.I.F. and for all the wonderful things that this season brings!

Yesterday was World Aids Day and there were a lot of acknowledgements to this event as well as the circumstances surrounding this formally fatal disease. Through research and contributions, cures have been found and methods to prevent its spread have been discovered and implemented. Yet, there are still millions and millions of children as well as adults “worldwide” who suffer from this debilitating illness. In my past, I have encountered those who lost their lives to this illness before treatment was found …. May they Rest In Peace.

This is the last month in the year 2011 and I must admit that I am very grateful to still be alive and able to contribute in a positive way, though small ways, to the on going culture of humanity. Next week, I will be presenting a workshop at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center on Sistrunk Boulevard here in the FTL. We are expecting several hundred high school students that Ms. Patricia Lesesne has been working with and has organized to allow me to introduce my book, From the Projects to Princeton, and a workshop focusing on Embracing Diversity, Stop the Violence and Overcoming Obstacles, to this group and program called “Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders” from the Broward County School Board. I am not only excited but privileged and honored with this opportunity.

Christmas was always a “season” that I embraced not only because of the story of Baby Jesus and his birth but the message behind it as well. Coming from humble beginnings myself and having been blessed with tender, loving parents, I hold the fondest of memories. One I’d like to mention were the trips from New York to Tampa, Florida by Amtrak train that my parents gave to me a few times as a Christmas present since they and my other siblings were driving in one of Dad’s old school Cadillacs – two tone pink, if I remember correctly. Well, one of my sisters and I had the time of our lives – at least I did – riding on the train, stopping picking up passengers from city to city along the Eastern Seaboard, dining, sleeping, meeting other kids, playing and having a blast …. all the way there …. and all the way back! My parents were very responsible in providing me with my earliest memories of happiness. Now, as I look back and thank them for that, I have a better idea today of how to be both responsible and happy ….

Last night, I set up my miniature tree with a string of lights around it in my modest bachelor’s flat to start off the season of “love and peace” that we celebrate called Christmas.

Today, help me be responsible for what I feel and do, dear Creator, of the Heavens and the Earth!

Peace be with you!

John I. Cook, Director

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