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Renee Baker (left), Georgia Hill (right)

 

I have a secret.  A big part of why I am able to do what I do is the people I surround myself with.  My staff when I served on the Detroit City Council was exceptional.  I surrounded myself with a small, permanent staff of smart capable people who could read fast, write well, talk with anyone, and represented me well.  The same is true and has been true of my church staff from the very beginning.  A funeral brings out a lot of different people for different reasons.  After my father’s funeral, I took a photo with two people who have helped me through the years.

Renee Baker, on the left in the photo, was a secretary to my father when he was on the City Council.  The week before he died, Renee and I went to see my dad while he was half-asleep in an intensive care unit of a hospital.  When my dad heard Renee’s voice he seemed to come alive.  Renee had served as his secretary for several years.  When I was elected to the City Council I asked Renee to work with me.  She began as my secretary and morphed into a major administrative assistant.  I learned a lot from Renee.  One of the things I learned from her was the intelligence of the civil service employees hired by the city of Detroit.  Civil Service employees have to pass an aptitude and skills test.  As a group they are incredibly intelligent and capable.  These are the staff secretaries, garbage workers, bus drivers, police and fire fighters, accountants, clerks and others.  Often maligned as a scape goat for a variety of City related problems, the Civil Service employees are an incredible group of individuals.

Georgia Hill was my chief of staff.  In the middle of my tenure on the City Council, Georgia informed me that she felt a call to the ministry.  I told her I was not impressed and asked her if she would like a raise.  She said she felt the call was real and was not seeking a raise.  We worked out a plan where she would enroll at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Ill.  Her work load was reduced to part time and she spent two to three days a week in Chicago to complete a Master of Divinity Degree.  When she graduated, I asked her to be my associate minister at the church and she has remained in that position to this day.  Georgia assisted in the leadership of worship during the funeral for my father.

Renee and Georgia were not alone.  Russell Estill, Deila Davis, Damon Harvey, Steve Rinehart, Trish Ashburn, and Zondra helped me on the City Council.  I also had young people who were students or in between jobs who also made a great contribution:  Gerald “Geeper” Bailey, Steve Butler, Nicole Baker and Latasha Washington.  Tasha Washington helps me part time at the church.

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Henrietta Carson, Executive Administrative Assistant, Plymouth United Church of Christ

At the Church I also have strong help.  The resources are lean, but the staff is super productive.  Georgia Hill is now the Rev. Dr. Georgia Hill and helps me as the Associate Minister.  Henrietta Carson, was recommended to me to serve as the church accountant by Renee Baker.  Henrietta serves as the church accountant, but also my executive assistant.  Henrietta has freed me to write and expand my creativity for the church program and ministry.  In effect, she is the chief of staff for the church.  As my dad struggled for life, Henrietta walked over the hospital twice to see my dad and energized him to try to maintain his life.  Regina Yopp is the church secretary and helping me on a lot of different levels.  Regina is a strong writer and incredibly cheerful.  Latasha Washington is the assistant secretary.

Latasha Washingron
Latasha Washingron, assistant secretary for the church
Regina Yopp, secretary for the Plymouth United Church of Christ
Regina Yopp, secretary for the Plymouth United Church of Christ

the church and also helps with event planning.  Tasha is unbelievably fast and committed to doing about everything you could imagine a church should do.

When I think of the people I work with and have worked with, all I can say is thank you.  Thank you for your help.  Thank you for your insight.  Thank you for helping me to achieve my goals.  As I think of the people who have worked with me and those who still work with me, I think of the words of the Beatles: “I get by with a little help from my friends” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney:

What would you think if I sang out of tune Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song And I’ll try not to sing out of key Oh I get by with a little help from my friends Mm I get high with a little help from my friends Mm gonna try with a little help from my friends What do I do when my love is away? (Does it worry you to be alone?) How do I feel by the end of the day? (Are you sad because you’re on your own?) No I get by with a little help from my friends Mm I get high with a little help from my friends Mm gonna try with a little help from my friends (Do you need anybody?) I need somebody to love (Could it be anybody?) I want somebody to love (Would you believe in a love at first sight?) Yes I’m certain that it happens all the time (What do you see when you turn out the light?) I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine Oh I get by with a little help from my friends Mm I get high with a little help from my friends Oh I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends (Do you need anybody?) I just need someone to love (Could it be anybody?) I want somebody to love Oh I get by with a little help from my friends Mm gonna try with a little help from my friends Oh I get high with a little help from my friends Yes I get by with a little help from my friends With a little help from my friends

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Sharla Sullivan Hood

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org