April 28, 2016

Minutes of the Rotary Meeting – April 28, 2016
By: Henry R. Seawell, IV
Invocation, Song, Music and Pledge
Robbie McClure called the meeting to order. Chambliss Brister gave the invocation.
Tommy Blankenship led the song and pledge, accompanied by Les Greer on the piano.
Introduction of Guests and Visitors: Tom Martenstein. The meeting’s guests included Keith Coker and Nikki Coker. Keith is the president of Rotaract, Eastern Shore, which is a gathering of young Rotarians, ages 21-35, that meets in Baldwin County.
Student Guest: No student guest this meeting.
Announcements: Rotarians were reminded of the Rotary International meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Atlanta next year. Members of our group are encouraged to attend the conference. Robert Greer has arranged for a block of rooms and interested members should contact him for more information.
Speaker: John Eads, Founder and Executive Director of Light of the Village, was introduced by Bill Kinnaird.
Mr. Eads formed the Light of the Village (the “Village”) in Alabama Village in Prichard. According to Eads, Alabama Village has the dubious distinction of being one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the entire southeastern United States. The supporting figures are staggering. For instance, 21 people have been killed within 200 yards of the Village since 2003, including 5 shootings this year alone.
Despite the violence, Eads has successfully created an environment where neighborhood children can play and be tutored in the afternoons. The goal of the Village is to be a respite where children can experience faith, hope and love.
Eads began serving this community and engaging in this ministry in 2001. Several years later, the Village became a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization and, about the same time, Mr. Eads left a successful career in management at Mobile Infirmary to solely devote his time and resources to the Village. Fifteen years into the ministry, Eads is pleased to announce that the Village is completely debt free and management and operating expenses only constitute 3% of that which is donated, the remainder is used for the children at the Village.
At the outset, Eads and his wife purchased a former crack house in the middle of Alabama Village and fully renovated the property. Today, there is a playground and other amenities that are used by the visitors to the Village. The Village is now operating three summer camps, each with over 100 campers and achieving excellent results. The Village took advice from “Urban Promise” in New Jersey and “Homeboy Entertainment” in Los Angeles to develop its best practices. The relationship with Homeboy has flourished and its representatives regularly travel to the Village and assist with its growth and success.
The Village has developed programs for consumers to obtain their GEDs and driver’s licenses, as well as providing job training. The campers have even reached out to perform their own ministry, traveling to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to build a home. This ministry continues to grow and is an excellent example of the impact a dedicated individual can have on our community.
The meeting was adjourned.