Profile Q & A: Erin Patrice, MLK Drum Major Award

Erin Patrice of Midland will receive the Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award at the Great Lakes Bay Region’s MLK celebration on Jan. 19 at Saginaw Valley State University. 

Patrice is being recognized for her efforts with The Breaking Bread Village, an organization she founded. Their mission statement is to intentionally create a space for people to come together and have transparent conversations with no judgement, so that people’s ideas and perspectives will be heard. 

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award for community service is based on nominees who selflessly perform daily acts of service to make their community — and our world — a better place. The award was created by the Great Lakes Bay Regional MLK Celebration event committee, and the honorees are selected from Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties. This year’s event will be presented virtually due to COVID-19 concerns. Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the nation’s 66th Secretary of State, will be the featured guest in a moderated fireside chat. The program begins at 7:00pm. You can register for this free event on SVSU’s website

Martin Luther King, Jr once said, “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness… We all have the drum major instinct.”

Patrice has lived in  Midland for 17 years. She and her four sons moved here from Cincinnati. They faced some challenges when they first lived in Midland, documented in a 2020 article in Catalyst Midland.

Patrice is a graduate of Purcell Marian Catholic High School in Cincinnati. She’s worked for Adoption Option as a visitation supervisor, as a life coach at Windover School, and with the Midland Public Schools’ program at the Juvenile Care Center. Patrice serves on the Midland County Housing Commission and the Midland Area Cultural Awareness Coalition.

She founded The Breaking Bread Village (TBBV) on May 12, 2020. Patrice says it was born at a time in 2020 when everybody was at each other’s necks. Patrice wants TBBV to be a safe space for people to be honest and transparent. TBBV has hosted panel discussions, including a youth panel on Jan. 6. To support their efforts, a project fund has been set-up at the Midland Area Community Foundation.

The Breaking Bread Village event held at Creative 360 in fall 2021.Q: At this point, what are two of your goals for Breaking Bread Village?

A: We’re working on taking our community conversations cross country — we’re working on taking the show on the road. We also want to do more talks in the Great Lakes Bay Region. We also want to have more in-depth conversations. That sounds like a simple thing, but we want to bring different people together; we want to expand the audience. How that looks is what we’re working on. We have videos on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. They show conversations with different people and we have some panels. We feature local people and people who are internationally known. Had the opportunity to go to Jane Elliott’s house in Iowa to interview her, and I also interviewed Cornel West. (Elliott is an internationally known teacher and educator, while West is a well-known author and activist.)

Q: You volunteer as a mentor for youth who you said “need a little extra help.”  What do you try to achieve as a mentor? 

A: Try to show them that you don’t have to give up. Life can be difficult; it can be bleak. Install hope and love. Sometimes you have to take life into your own hands. Children are relying on their parents to make their life better but as they get older, those adults might not be able to do that, so we help them to achieve that on their own. 
The Breaking Bread Village programs & conversations can be found on You Tube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Q: Who have been your mentors?  

A: My mom and her six sisters, the Glover Girls. They have been people who I’ve gleaned from. They’ve lived in different ways. Very successful — may be material things, family, or a peace of mind. They are people who came from very humble beginnings and made it work. You don’t determine the beginning, but you can determine the ending.

Gina Wilson — she’s served as a mentor in different ways. She now works at CMU (Central Michigan University). She used to be the principal at Windover (High School). I used to work at Windover. Gina was always honest, also, always gave you a different perspective to look at. She encouraged me to get out and join different things. I wasn’t one to do that. I wanted to make sure I did something with purpose. That’s when I first joined the board of Cleveland Manor, making sure senior citizens had good housing and were getting fair treatment. 
TBBV is a space where people can engage in conversations aimed at creating positive change.
Q: What was your reaction when you learned you are receiving the MLK Drum Major Award? 

A: At first, I was very shocked. It was not near my radar at all. It means accountability and responsibility. It makes you understand that people are seeing you do good things. You want to honor that legacy, to continue on and not stop. Sometimes you’re doing things because that’s just what you do. I want to make sure I’m honoring this well. It was just inspiring. We’re on the right track. Let’s keep going. 

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Read more articles by Ron Beacom.

Ron Beacom has served as the managing editor of Catalyst Midland since October 2020. He's also a freelance writer for the Midland Daily News and the producer/host of "Second Act: Life at 50 Plus" for WDCQ-Delta College Public Media (PBS). He's the co-producer of two WDCQ documentaries about the Tittabawassee River Disaster in 2020, "Breached! and Breached!2-The Recovery."