Last year I went down to South Carolina and the small town called North, where my mother was from, to celebrate the first official ‘Eartha Kitt Day’, January 17th, also known as Bill H3036, which was approved and passed by the State legislators in 2016 and signed by then Governor, Nikki Haley.
To say I was touched by the turnout and incredible love that was shown me by every person I came in contact with, would be a true understatement, but what moved me the most was the kindness shown to each other.
Mayor Patty Carson and Reverend Rick Jones, pastor of North First Baptist Church and head of the Cooperative Ministries of North, along with Barbara Jeffcoat, helped organize a gala in my mother’s honor, and about 300 people attended, with all proceeds benefiting the Cooperative Ministries.
What I really came away with was how a community works together and ‘has each other’s backs’. The true meaning of neighbor helping neighbor.
My mother always said she was ‘of the earth’ and described herself as a ‘cotton-picker from the south.’ Although life was not always easy for her, she remained true to her roots. My mother understood the power that one person has to effect change in the life of another. It doesn’t need to be a big gesture. And sometimes it’s only a brief encounter. Often it’s as simple as holding someone’s hand during a difficult time, or helping another with household chores or repairs.
That was exactly what I saw in the small town of North, Orangeburg County, South Carolina. A group of men helping to repair the roof of a young, single mother; a clothing store where every item is one dollar and diapers are free for all who need; a Pastor who fields requests from citizens who don’t have enough money for medicine or utilities or need transportation to a doctor. Every day, necessary tasks, that many of us take for granted and barely stop to worry about, are approached, assigned and completed by a community of churches working with their members who volunteer because they know it benefits all.
The Cooperative Ministries is the organization I talk about and encourage people to support on the Eartha Kitt Foundation Page. It was started in 1995 as an agreement between area churches and citizenry to help those individuals in need. ‘Cooperation’ means working together to bring about positive results, and from what I saw, that is exactly what they are achieving. My mother believed that “we are all teachers, even if it is only for a moment” and that “however you treated someone or something, it would respond in kind”. The lessons I learned from visiting the place that gave life to my mother, will forever be etched in my heart.
Thank you South Carolina, for remembering her and celebrating her accomplishments and the people of North for demonstrating the true meaning of “It takes a village”.
Remember ~ Treasure ~ Love… Kitt
Click here to read an editorial in the Times and Democrat today about January 17th, Eartha Kitt Day.
Some interviews from last year at the first Eartha Kitt Day celebration