Alabama’s Own Lonny Joe Underwood, The Holesome Donuts CEO
Lonny Joe Underwood, a man who rose from a small town in southern Alabama to head Holesome Donuts, one of the country’s largest baked goods companies, credits the values he took from his storekeeper parents for much of his success – especially the importance of showing respect to everyone.
Reminiscing about their childhood, his sister Mary, who still runs the family store in Evergreen, Alabama, tells this story:
“You know, [Lonny Joe] and I worked in the store after school every day, and we saw how they -our parents- spoke to people, black and white. You know this was back in the 1950s and 1960s when segregation was still legal. This might not seem like a big thing to you because you’re young, but it was a big deal to call a black customer Mr. or Mrs. in those days, but our parents always did.
“One time, they actually got into trouble and nearly lost the business because of how they treated black folks,” she recalled. “There was a woman named Clara Smith who was telling mama how much she was looking forward to seeing her oldest daughter, Lucille, when she came home from college for Christmas. She was at Alabama A & M, and she was the first in the family to graduate from high school, let alone go to college.
“My parents ended up hiring Lucille to be a clerk in the store while she was home for the holidays so she could make money for school,” she continued. “Well, you would have thought the world was coming to an end. They got threatening notes from the White Citizens Council, and some of the folks from church stopped speaking to them. Business fell off so much they thought they might have to close, but they didn’t fire Lucille.
“Lonny Joe and I learned what it meant to stand up, and we have never forgotten,” she concluded.
Now married with a wife of 34 years, two kids and three grandchildren of his own, the young boy who saw discrimination first hand never wavered and grew up to become the CEO of Holesome Donuts. Under his leadership, the company will be expanding into the South to build a $100 million, 300,000 square-foot plant in Repton, Alabama, a town just down the road from Evergreen where he grew up.
Sixty five-year-old Underwood has come a long way from the little boy who once worked in the family grocery store. He now stands tall at 6 feet 3 inches and always remains well groomed in a pressed suit and freshly shined shoes.
Watching his parents demonstrate the same level of respect to African-Americans as they did their white counterparts has influenced his values on workplace diversity.
“As a black man, I appreciate Lonny Joe’s approach to race,” Malcolm Vinson, Holesome’s chief financial officer, said. “He’s not one of these guys who will swear up and down that he’s color-blind and then the brothers never seem to get the same opportunities. Lonny Joe knows about race; he just doesn’t let it get in the way of deciding who’s best to do the job.”
The company that Underwood heads is infused with his sensibility of leadership, fair play, and equality not only for his employees, but also for those who invest in his business. Underwood is noted as a fair but stern leader of Holesome Donuts.
“Lonny Joe will listen to everybody’s opinions before he makes a decision, but once he makes the decision, that’s it,” John Josephs, Vice President and Director of Transportation Systems, said.
With over 20 years of experience in management, marketing, and wholesale distribution, Underwood is committed to take the small, one-stop doughnut shop that started 84 years ago in Paterson, New Jersey to new heights. Holesome Donuts is confident that his goal oriented, collaborative, and decisive characteristics will benefit the company.
“I’ve never seen anyone work harder,” Maria Lopez, Senior Vice President of Research and Marketing at Holesome Donuts, said. “He wants to know how every decision will affect every aspect of the operation, from manufacturing to distribution. He’s smart enough to know that he can’t be involved in all the details, but he isn’t comfortable unless he knows he could do it if he had to.”
Under Underwood’s leadership, Holesome Donuts will open a new facility in Repton, Alabama, just a 20-minute drive on U.S.84 from his hometown Evergreen. The expansion is the cornerstone of Holesome’s strategy to enter southern markets; it is expected to create a huge growth opportunity for both the company and the city of Repton.
“We’ve been talking about this expansion into the Sun Belt for three years now,” Harry Taylor, executive vice present and second in command at Holesome, said. “It was the next logical step in our business. We’re strong in the Northeast and the Midwest, but the South represents an opportunity for growth. As you know, Lonny Joe has a strong financial background, and he’s made us run the numbers backward and forward. It makes powerfully good sense, and the revenue projections back it up.”
The new facility will have a positive impact on Repton’s 28.2 percent unemployment rate reported in last year’s U.S. Census report, which is higher than the national unemployment rate of 7.9 percent. The facility will create 350 permanent jobs locally.
“The construction of the plant will be a boon to our economy,” Repton Mayor Terri Carter said, “and we are looking forward to working with Holesome Donuts toward a successful launch of its southern initiative.”
Underwood is not only respectful, respected and unbiased, but he also makes it a priority to give back to the community. He cares about the surrounding communities that his business will affect. Underwood volunteers at the local food back, and he serves on the board for two nonprofits that provide services to under-employed or unemployed female heads of households. He is also involved with the local chamber of commerce and serves as a generous contributor to organizations that support educational opportunities for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
It is not unusual for Underwood to roll up the sleeves on his Favors Brooks Brothers suit to serve the community, and he urges his employees to participate as well. Underwood insists that his employees with the title of Director or higher participate in community outreach just as he does. As an incentive, Underwood ties 10 percent of their annual bonus to their community service.
Lonny Joe Underwood has earned the support of not only his colleagues, but his family as well.
“Lonny Joe is such a fine man. Even if he wasn’t my little brother I’d be proud of what he has accomplished, and I’d be glad to see him bringing his business back home,” Underwood’s sister, Mary, said. “My kids adored him when they were growing up. They thought their Uncle Lonny Joe was just the best, and they still do now that they’re adults with kids of their own.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2014
Contact: Ciearra Jefferson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Coalition for Healthy Minority Communities Receives $100,000 for Nutrition Pilot Program
WASHINGTON- The Coalition for Healthy Minority Communities (CHMC) has received a $100,000 anonymous grant that will enable them to create a pilot program to combat food scarcity in The District and nearby Prince George’s County, Maryland.
“This $100,000 donation has allowed us to join the fight towards healthy eating in urban communities, an issue that first lady Michelle Obama has addressed and achieved much success,” CHMC President Sherman Jackson said.
“Approximately, 1 in every 13 homes in DC’s current population is considered poor, undernourished or in poor health, with high risks of obesity, “according to DC Hunger statistics.
CHMC kicked off this year with a campaign designed to implement and improve community gardens in Washington-area neighborhoods. “I’m a country boy from Mississippi whose parents made meals
pleasing to the stomach all the time, but they always stressed the importance of a healthy diet. I recognize the necessity of this project, and I am glad to lend my support,” the anonymous $100,000 donor said. CHMC urges local communities and organizations to join in support of their efforts.
CHMC has established partnerships with communities and accepted leadership in the roles to revamp
and revitalize food deserts. CHMC is confident that their campaign to fight hunger and provide neighborhoods with healthier food options will be a success.
CHMC works with state and federal legislators to help shape legislation across the country. As The
Coalition for Healthy Minority Communities prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the organization remains steadfast in its mission to promote healthy living in ethnic minority communities, including nutrition, education, and anti-violence.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2014
Contact: Ciearra Jefferson, email@example.com
An Anonymous Donation Allows Good Turn to Open a New Facility in Prince George’s County
WASHINGTON- Good Turn, a Washington-based nonprofit shelter for women and their families, announced plans to move to suburban Mitchellville, Maryland after receiving an abandoned mansion on three acres of land from an anonymous donor.
The anonymous donation will allow Good Turn to increase its overnight shelter capacity from six families to 10, and add space for counseling services. The new facility has an improved kitchen, and meal services have increased from 25 individuals per meal to 60.
In addition, Good Turn has received a donated van that will be used as a shuttle to Metro stations for residents.
“We are grateful for this donation,” Howard Hampton, executive director of Good Turn, said. “Expanding our facilities will not only allow the organization to help more women and their families, but it will also allow us to improve and increase our services.”
Established in 2004, Good Turn is a nonprofit organization that provides food, clothing and temporary shelter for homeless single women and their children in the Washington, D.C. area. The shelter provides job training, an onsite daycare, and requires unemployed women within the shelter to look for work. Good Turn is determined to make a difference.
The official move to the new facility is expected to take place over the July 4 weekend. Following the move, Hampton has planned a community picnic on the new grounds. He has invited every household within a quarter-mile of the new facility to the picnic for free food and drink.
“The county appreciates Good Turn’s efforts not only in bridging the gap between homelessness and self-sufficiency, but also in their efforts to establish relationships with the community to make residents feel comfortable with the shelters addition to the area,” said Rushern L. Baker, Prince George’s county executive. “The county executive’s office is excited to attend the picnic and learn more about Good Turn’s plans.”
Good Turn has served the needs of single homeless women and their children since 2004, including job training and employment placement services, temporary housing and counseling.
By Ciearra Jefferson
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 by The Hilltop Newspaper
Homecoming is quickly approaching, but classes are not slowing down.
Students are boggled with the responsibility of classes and the desire to
prepare for homecoming. Luckily, there is a way to do both!
Remember to use all of your time prior to homecoming wisely. Get ahead of
your classes so that you are not worried about due dates while Juicy J is on
stage “showing out.” Start this process now; plan and make sure it’s all
done the weekend before.
You may be saying to yourself, “I still have classes the week of homecoming. What do I do about those assignments?” No worries! Make sure you attend classes, and simply take care of that work as you get it.
“Many students use homecoming as an excuse to miss classes,” said junior, Kristen White.
Do not let your workload pile up! By doing so, you will become extremely overwhelmed during homecoming, or immediately after, keeping you from remembering how much you enjoyed your homecoming experience. In order to prevent either of these from happening, focus not only on the homework due homecoming week, but also try completing the homework due the beginning of the next week.
Finally, make sure that you take care of all homecoming needs (outfits, visitations, ticket purchases etc.) before the week of. Failing to do so could result in frustration and cause you to lose focus on your studies. You will become distracted because your friends are planning and preparing for the upcoming events and you are not ready.
Junior, Alexis Kennedy, said, “Unfortunately, in the cases of many students, classes take a backseat during the time of homecoming because people are more worried about the events than they are classes.”
Try to avoid unnecessary stress! Purchasing tickets, preparing outfits, and getting visitation situated ahead of time will bring a
feeling of accomplishment and allow you to focus on what really matters: academics.
We must remember that we are students first. Teachers notice a change in students focus and dedication to classes around the time of homecoming.
Professor Mabeko- Tali said, “Over the years I’ve noticed a change in class attendance and participation around the time of homecoming; Friday is definitely a noticeable change in attendance. Normally, I just make sure I cancel class on that Friday
in order to prevent it.”
Who wants to be at the R&B concert watching Trey Songz preform with your mind filled with upcoming and overdue coursework? No one! Taking care of your academic needs before homecoming will benefit you in the end. You will now be able to truly enjoy the festivities with no worries. Ultimately, make sure your homework is finished before an EPIC homecoming!
By: Ciearra Jefferson
Published: on February 20, 2014 by 101 Magazine
When imagining the battlefield of civil rights, people often see men. Martin Luther
King. Jesse Jackson. Malcolm X. What about the women behind those men?
Brendien Mitchell, a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council, had the same question and became the mastermind behind Howard University’s recent Black History Month program on King’s wife, “What About Coretta?”
“While discussing ways to celebrate Dr. King’s holiday with other members of COAS student council, I came to realize that attention has always been focused on Dr.
King and his contributions, but rarely on the work of his wife, Coretta King, and all that she carried on after his death,” Mitchell explained. “This program creates the perfect opportunity to encourage young people to become more active in the current gender movement today.”
Mariah Sankey, a junior from Opelika, Ala., served as the moderator for the event. “Being born in the South, I often hear stories of the struggles in history that the black race and black women have had to overcome,” Sankey said.
It can be argued that African Americans forget how far they have come as a race and become complacent with what they believe is a changed society.
“It is important to continue programs like ‘What About Coretta?’ to continue to remind ourselves that there are still fights to be won, especially in the issues of women rights and equality,” Sankey said. “We must remember that it is our duty as members of the black race to take initiative and truly become the change we wish to see.”
Danielle Scott, chief of staff of the Howard University Student Association, held a seat on the event’s panel.
“When women are elevated and equal, then men will also be elevated and equal,” Scott said. “This movement symbolizes the betterment of society as a whole, not just for women to get ahead of men.”
Kevin Peterman, student council vice president, says men must stay informed and do research on the issues of women rights, because such inequalities affect more than just women.
“As a male, I too must stand for the rights and advancement of women, especially in all-male spaces where the woman’s voice is unheard,” Peterman said. “The glue holding the black race together has always been the black woman and when we advocate for them, we advocate for our future.”
Mitchell said that his motive for creating the event stemmed in part from his involvement with the American Way Foundation, which has been active in civic engagement since 1981. “Through my participation with the American Way Foundation, I met many activists around the country who work in women’s rights and gender equality,” Mitchell said.
“Honestly, I was never too concerned about such issues until other young people began to educate me,” Mitchell admitted. “I felt that society failed to discuss the prominent roles of women, especially at Howard University, where the only thing discussed in regards to women is the student body ratio. It was time to change that.” Mitchell is also one of three fellows in the national Young People
Fellowship, which engages students in grassroots projects focusing on social change.
As the program on Coretta Scott King went on, the panelists stressed the importance of teaching and exposing generations at an early age in order to influence their thinking on such issues and instill accurate values of equality. Older generations must be OK with change, they said, and the new generations must step up and change what has been done in the past. Women deserve the same respect given to males, whether it is in the workplace, in leadership positions or in the media, panelists added.
“The issue of women’s rights has come to the forefront once again in the American political sphere,” Mitchell said. “I believe that we, as African Americans, have become disengaged or not as concerned as others. As Howard students, and the black community as a whole, we must lead in social change.”
Ciearra Jefferson writes about campus life for 101Magazine.net.
By Ciearra Jefferson
Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 by The Hilltop Newspaper
The term “cuffing” is a subliminal representation of handcuffs; when someone is cuffed, he or she is attached to another person, in other words dating. The youthful imaginary season, cuffing season, normally occurs during the cold winter months when individuals long to have a companion to help keep them warm. The warmer seasons are quickly approaching and this time of the year is known to
many youth as non-cuffing season; this season describes one where dating is no longer common. Individuals tend to break all commitments and attachments to their partners in order to enjoy the freedom of going out, meeting new people, and partaking in summer festivities with “no strings attached”. There are several ways to ensure that strings remain detached; below are the most common ways known to college students.
1. Keep it Clear!
When interacting with another person it is always important to keep the intentions of the relationship clear. If a relationship is not desired, say it!
Jasmine Jones, a graduate student studying interpersonal and intrapersonal communication, said “communication is the gateway to intimacy especially in relationships. Females long for effective communication in any relationship.”
If the intentions of the relationship are made clear at the beginning it will avoid any hurt feelings, mixed emotions, and unnecessary drama.
2. Refrain From Constant Communication!
“I do not communicate with any female every day for the mere fact that I don’t want them to get the wrong idea; I am not looking for a relationship,” said sophomore Greg Eason.
Constant communication will create emotions because individuals are getting to know each other more and more. Take breaks in
communication; don’t call or text every day. It is okay to check in on one another, but calling and texting everyday can send the wrong message.
3. No Sleepovers! Strictly Drive-By’s!
Too much time together can contribute to the gradual evolution of compassionate feelings for one another. It is okay to spend time together just not in intimate settings or for large periods of time; stopping by is always the best option.
“Spending time with someone is a form of intimacy, so I only allow people I’m serious with to stay over,” said senior Stephanie Awkard.
With that being said, if a serious relationship is not the intention, then staying the night may not be the best idea.
4. This is Confidential, Not Facebook Official!
“As a female, I notice social media post regarding relationships; I think it’s safe to say that most females do,” said freshman Dominique Murray.
Making reference, tweeting about, and posting pictures of a possible companion are all signs that two people are interested in each other. Some may take a simple tweet like “thinking about you” as “I want to be with you”, so to prevent all uncertainty just refrain from bringing the relationship to social media.
By: Ciearra Jefferson
Published: February 27, 2014 by 101 Magazine
Olivia Pope and Mary Jane Paul are stirring up controversy among TV viewers, because of their undercover sexual relationships with married men — one of the men being the president of the United States. Some viewers of “Scandal” and “Being Mary Jane” are concerned how both characters depict black women in today’s society.
Kerry Washington plays the role of Olivia Pope, a well-respected crisis management
expert in the ABC series “Scandal.” Gabrielle Union is known as Mary Jane Paul,
a successful news anchor, in the BET series “Being Mary Jane.” However, the
debate is not centered on their esteemed careers, but instead focuses on their promiscuous actions as black women in the public eye.
“It bothers me that instead of the focus being placed on the women’s accomplishments and respected careers, emphasis are placed on their unbecoming ways,” said Jasmine Jones, a student at University of Michigan. “Television needs to start highlighting the high pinnacles that black women reach.”
Robin Givhan discussed the controversial issue of a black woman’s image on television in a widely circulated Washington Post article. Over time, television has grown to be a dominant source of distributing and receiving information as well as serving as a prime form of entertainment. TV is said to be one of the most influential forms of popular culture.
With the widespread and prominent impact that popular culture has on society, the televised image of African-American women today is one-dimensional, Givhan said. “Television, in particular, speaks to viewers intimately, in the privacy of their homes, building long-term relationships and weaving complicated narratives,” she explained.
Some fear that because of television’s influence, girls in later generations will grow up with a tarnished image of women, leaving men with false ideas of the qualities of a real black woman.
“Honestly, I feel that Olivia Pope and Mary Jane’s characters glamourize what the world knows today as a side chick,” said Jones, who supports Givhan’s views. “It is rare that an African-American female holds such a prominent position in the media and when finally granted the opportunity it is tainted by bad character.”
“Scandal” marks the first time since “Get Christie Love” in the 1970s that an African-American woman has had the lead in a network television drama.
Conversely, some viewers say that people are taking the TV series too seriously.
“I don’t believe it is that serious; it is just a TV show,” said Mykale Trotter, a student at Pennsylvania State University. “It only becomes an issue when females try to look to these stars as role models; that’s not what their role is.”
Trotter went on to mention that both Washington and Union are respected outside their characters and that viewers must remember that they are just playing a role.
Bishetta Merritt, Ph.D., associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film at Howard University, also discussed the impact of the shows.
“Aside from the fact that I am a devoted ‘Scandal’ fan, I don’t think these shows are a negative depiction of African-American women,” Merritt said. “I think they are very confident, educated and motivated. Both characters have weaknesses; their weaknesses just happen to be men. You can’t help who you love.”
Nevertheless, millions of viewers anxiously await the continuation of “Being Mary Jane” and “Scandal,” eager to see what additional drama and scandals are unveiled.
Ciearra Jefferson covers campus life for 101Magazine.net.
By: Ciearra Jefferson
Published: November 19, 2013 by Glasshouse Radio
Americans are closely watching the case of 19-year-old Renisha McBride who was shot in the head after knocking on the door of 54-year-old Theodore Paul Wafer in Dearborn Heights, MI to ask for help after she had been in an accident.
According to the Dearborn Heights police report, “McBride crashed her 2004 Ford Taurus into a parked car in Detroit, blocks away from Wafer’s home, around 1:30 a.m.”
It is believed that McBride’s reason for knocking on Wafer’s door was to seek help after her accident. However, things did not go as planned.
McBride was shot with a 12-gauge shotgun that left a large wound to her face. McBride’s aunt, Bernita Spinks, said she was bereaved to know her niece would not even be able to have an open casket funeral because of the damage.
Recent reports from CNN show that McBride had an alcohol level of 0.218 the night of the incident.
According to the Huffington Post, “Defense lawyers are expected to argue that Wafer feared for his life when a drunken McBride — toxicology reports put her blood-alcohol content at well above the legal limit for driving — came to his door in the middle of the night hours after crashing her car blocks away in Detroit.”
Members of McBride’s family and Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy, however, see this defense tactic as unjustifiable because McBride was unarmed and shot through a locked screen door.
The reality of McBride’s killing is still a very hard topic for her friends and family to cope with.
Arnisha Jones, a current sophomore at University of Michigan, said, “I first met Renisha at Levey Middle School. We went to school with each other from 6th grade all the way up to high school graduation. We always joked around and did crazy stuff. She always knew
how to make you laugh for sure. When I first heard about what happened to her I was in shock! I never thought that someone I went to school with would die so young. I mean you always here about these senseless killings, but you never expect it to happen to someone you know and care about.”
McBride’s case has caused many to question whether or not Wafer’s act was truly one of self-defense. In the state of Michigan, in order for self-defense to be justified there must be "honest and reasonable beliefs of imminent death or imminent great bodily harm to oneself or another person and proven that the use of force must be necessary in order to prevent.”
According to ABC News, “Evidence suggested that she knocked on Wafer's locked screen door and that he opened his front door and was inside the house when he fired a shot through the open door, but a still closed and locked screen door.”
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said "We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense. Evidence shows no sign of forced entry."
According to ABC news, Wafer will be charged with “second-degree murder, manslaughter and possession of a firearm during a commission of a felony.”
Wafer’s arraignment was November 15th, and he is currently free on bail awaiting his Dec. 18 hearing that will determine if the case should go to trial.
Jones said, “I’m happy that action is finally being taken. I want her family to be able to sleep at night and have that sense of
Funeral services were held for Renisha McBride in Detroit, MI on November 8, 2013.
At the funeral, Monica McBride, Renisha’s mother, said, "She deserves to be right here today, with her family."
Pieces can be found on the websites of 101 Magazine, The Howard University Hilltop, and Glasshouse Radio. Additional writing samples on various other categories can be provided upon request.