A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Emotional presentation from NFL Chaplain highlights MASTER Provisions MPOWER Lunch at SETEC

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

The theme of the 2018 Master Provisions MPOWER Lunch Monday was “Always Better Together” and that message was delivered powerfully through the event’s keynote speaker.

NFL Chaplain LaMorris Crawford of the Cincinnati Bengals explains how his personal story fits with the MPOWER Lunch theme of “Always Better Together” (photo by Mark Hansel).

NFL Chaplain LaMorris Crawford of the Cincinnati Bengals shared his powerful story of overcoming tremendous hardship as a child growing up in Chicago.

He was one of nine children raised by his grandmother after his mother was murdered at the age of 17. He never met his father.

“I grew up with a huge question mark on top my head of ‘who am I and why am I here?’” he said. “I did not understand why life happened to me the way that it did, so I quickly rebelled.”

He was in a gang by the age of 11 and was selling crack cocaine at 14. He began to turn his life around through athletics and was a four-year starter on his high school basketball team.

Still, his poor academic performance (he scored a 14on the ACT) kept him from being recruited and he wound up in junior college.

He was still struggling when his cousin, a former drug dealer, told him how a girlfriend’s father locked him in a room and told him the story of Jesus Christ.

MASTER Provisions President and founder Roger Babik speaks about the organization’s accomplishments in the last year.

“He sat me down, told me that same story and my life was radically changed,” Crawford said.

He graduated from community college with an associates degree, went on to complete his higher education and has never looked back.

“There will always come a time, or there has been in your life, when you needed someone else to believe in you to be more, because there was a time when you didn’t believe in yourself,” Crawford said. That’s exactly why we’re here. There are people on the other side of these stories that need you to believe in them.”

The event, which took place at the St. Elizabeth Training and Education Center (SETEC) in Erlanger included a sellout crowd of 450 guests.

The luncheon also included presentations by MASTER Provisions president and founder Roger Babik and Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Brent Cooper.

Local 12 news anchor Liz Bonis was the emcee.

Master Provisions was founded in 1994 to function as an international clothing ministry and to provide support for orphan care.
Since that time, the organization has also increased the focus on local and regional efforts as a food partner and through its mobile food pantries in collaboration with Isaiah House.

Babik provided a recap of some of Master Provisions’ work in the past year. It included international efforts and local partnerships with Larry A. Ryle High School and other Boone County Schools.

Babik also talked about the collaboration with Isaiah House on mobile food pantries that take resources out into the community, in Ludlow and Covington, to help those in need.

To see the smiles on peoples’ faces and to hear a sincere ‘thank you’ for giving me enough food to get to the next month, it makes it all worth it,” Babik said. “It was a beautiful year to see God working around the globe through all of us, together.”

MASTER Provisions by the numbers:
*95 cents of each dollar donated goes to those in need
*125 agencies in the region are provided with resources
*6 mission partners overseas also benefit from the work of MASTER Provisions
*3.2 million pounds of food and…
*146,696 pounds of clothing and shoes provided
*1,031 volunteers gave…
*11,008 hours of their time to make it all happen

More than 350 people attended Monday’s MASTER PRovisions MPOWER Lunch at the St. Elizabeth Training and Education Center in Erlanger

Cooper said the Northern Kentucky Chamber, which will celebrate its’ 50th anniversary next year, was founded on the belief that the region is stronger together, so this year’s theme resonated with him.

He said the vast majority of the Chamber membership is small businesses, which is a great example that when small groups unite, they can do great things.

“Small businesses, nonprofits and community organizations, we all work so much better when we’re together,” Cooper said. “We depend on those partnerships, those strategic alliances, so I thought (the theme) was so appropriate.”

Crawford also reminded the audience why they were there.

The annual MPOWER Lunch is the primary fundraiser for MASTER Provisions and it’s goal of raising $150,000 in contributions at the event will go a long way toward funding its mission in the next year.

“If we’re going to ‘be better together,’ y’all need to write y’all’s checks, today.”

Next year, MASTER Provisions will celebrate 25 years of connecting resources to needs and Babik said its mission will continue as long as there is a need.

For more information about the services provided by Master Provisions, or information regarding volunteer and donation opportunities, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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