As I sat debriefing with the founder and CEO of VyZen Corporation, Mr. Theo Sutton Jr., following the event held on September 18, my heart swelled with pride and gratitude and hope. Pride because, damnit this Black Man is my little brother, my first real life baby (I was 6 when he was born. His existence was exciting af. No more bear and plastic babies for me. Lol), who has become a grown ass man, a husband and father, a community advocate and leader in the mission to #spreadlove. Gratitude for the opportunity and privilege to be a part of something bigger and better than myself, for us. I can't think of a more worthy endeavor than US. For the people. And hope for a more whole tomorrow, for our future, for generations to come. Vyzen Motto: "Empowering Generations: Mind, Body, and Spirit".
On a hot Saturday afternoon in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, community partners and resources gathered at Friendship Park, known formally as Eastside Park in Ward 2 on Rebecca Ave, for Vyzen Corporation's Community Cookout and Wellness Fair. The air was balmy and fresh. The grill was smoking. Ice was being shaved for snow balls. High School seniors from nearby Hattiesburg High School were on hand volunteering. Chatter and excitement was abound. The energy was all the good feels and a true testament to what can be accomplished when like-minded people ban together for the greater good. The community. The family.
The crowd was staggered as families, the homeless, and youth came and went over the course of the afternoon for a free food and basic necessities, health screenings and Covid vaccinations. Although the sun and Mississippi heat were uncomfortably hot, the smiles and jovial vibes shown brighter. Not a hint of drama or discord was felt between us. Shout out to the Hattiesburg Police Department for genuinely protecting and serving. We needed that. No one was a stranger. No one was unknown. We were all one. One big happy family. We laughed together. We danced together. We learned together. We loved together.
As we sat resting and reflecting on the implications of our actions that late afternoon, I immediately began to brainstorm this article. What needs to be highlighted? What needs to be relayed? What needs to be felt? I could talk about the man and the people behind Vyzen and the vision. (There's a website for that. Lol) I could talk about what went well and what could have been better. I could talk about what's next for Vyzen Corporation, the community they serve, and the broader scope of influence they hope to possess. But the answer, the direction, was simpler and greater than all of these things. And that is LOVE. Living, breathing, and spreading love in our community, like family. The highlight was love. What needs to be relayed? Boundless Love. What was felt? Selfless Love. The vision of Vyzen? Spreading Love. What went well? Love was spread. What could have been better? More love spread. What's next? What it means? The bigger picture? Love. Love. Love.
Many would argue the point "all you need is love." Some would say love is just icing on the cake. That without all of the other ingredients, love alone is not enough. That may be true depending on your perspective and experience with love or the lack thereof. It has been my experience however, and I believe the community family reunion proved, that love is the recipe and the icing. The beginning and the end. Before we can get to the cake baking, so to speak, we need the foundation and purpose, the recipe, to stand firmly on the basis of love. Love has to be the driving force. When we add all of the other ingredients that life and progress require, love will sustain it. And then we add more love, the icing, and it just gets better.
Thank you to Vyzen Corporation for seeing the need. Thank you for being a catalyst for love in a world stifled by hate and anger, no matter how founded those feelings may be. Thank you for reminding us, the community, at large and small, that we are family. Thank you for spreading love along the way.
I'll end this with the thank you post from the Vyzen's founder. The sponsors, vendors, and supporters deserve the recognition and I don't want to miss anybody. Lol
Via Sutton Theo on Facebook
First, giving honor to God. Giving honor to love. I’d like to thank our sponsors the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, Forrest County Branch of the NAACP, TFR CDC, and Mississippi Rising Coalition. Words can not express how grateful we are to have your support. To our wonderful vendors: Molina Healthcare, Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc and Z-Hope, Hattiesburg Salvation Army, Canopy Children’s Solutions and the Link Program, IMAGE for TEENS, Inc., Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources, Thee Sweatboxx, and Hattiesburg Police Department… simply put, this event couldn’t have been done without you. Special thanks to our speakers Laronne Lewis Sr., Charlotte Ciobanu and Xavier Rush. My heartfelt thanks for sharing your gifts.
To the team: Lakeylah White, Josh Turner, KaTonya Gray-Darby, Tiffany Tinette Ross, Sonya Duncan Felts, Dennis Williams Jr., Jay Jay Jackson, and especially my wife Arien Mclaughlin-Sutton. Thanks for your patience throughout this process. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without your commitment and investment into my life and VyZen Corporation. Your support gets me through and is what’s going to take our vision forward. This is our victory. We are family.
Speaking of family, thank you for always showing up for me. Thank you for showing me how to love. I just really wanna spread it around. I hope all who attended felt loved and felt like family. That is what I hoped to accomplish because #FamilyBetterTogether is more than a slogan. It is the path. Love is the way.
Finally, Focus for Health Foundation, I’m honored to be a partner. I encourage you to give them a follow and learn more about their mission. Genesis Be, thank you for seeing me and believing in the vision. We met organically and it’s been love ever since. Looking forward to partnering with you in the future. All in all I’m proud of our first event. We will grow together and empower generations one step at a time. Thanks again to everyone who made the Community Cookout & Wellness Fair possible! Continue to tag me in photos/videos and let’s do it again next year!
Be sure to follow and support Vyzen Corporation online and via Facebook and Instagram as well as the many community resources mentioned above. Connect with us. This is just the beginning, literally, the inaugural event. And it was Epic.