Local speakers urge kindness
EASTON — Speakers at the Easton Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Friday morning, Oct. 27, at the Tidewater Inn urged the sold-out crowd to be kind to others.
“Let’s make Easton, Md., a city of random acts of kindness,” Alfred B. “Tim” Kagan Jr. said.
This was the 35th year for the Easton Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, a form of leadership breakfast where people gather over a meal, share stories of their faith and pray for their leaders.
The breakfast annually draws an eclectic crowd of locals, elected officials, businessmen, county and town government employees and council members, physicians, police and first responders, educators, men and women of faith, and, of course, Easton Mayor Bob Willey.
The speakers this year were Kagan, a realtor and civic leader, and Cpl. Lenox Trams, an officer with the Easton Police Department and assistant squad leader for its bike unit.
The two told their stories Friday morning. Both were wholly different but had similar themes, including brushes with death and urging the crowd to be kind in their daily interactions.
According to his bio, Kagan has lived on the Eastern Shore for 40 years and has been heavily involved in Rotary International since 1985. He has a Rotary award named after him, one that honors Rotarians who go above and beyond the call of duty.
He also is involved with FINCA, a charitable organization that provides financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs, and has helped provide clean drinking water and sanitation to underdeveloped countries.
Kagan stood in the Gold Ballroom of the Tidewater Inn Friday morning when he recalled a story from a year and a half ago, one that occurred in that same inn and eventually changed his outlook on life.
“Eighteen months ago in this hotel, I was pronounced dead, twice,” Kagan said.
Kagan said he had a heart-related medical emergency while he and his wife awaited the arrival of friends at the Tidewater Inn. He was seated when his face went flush, and he fell and hit the floor, he said. A stranger, a nurse, was sitting near him and came to perform CPR but couldn’t revive him, he said.
EMTs revived Kagan, but he died again on the way to the hospital before being revived again, and the doctors at the hospital in Easton kept him alive, he said.
“Needless to say, my life has not been the same since. I always trusted the Lord in my life. Suddenly, everything around me took on special meaning — my family, my friends, everyday life,” Kagan said. “It sounds corny, but the sky never looked so blue, the grass never looked so green. Everything around me was different. I took time to notice.”
“But most of all, my walk with Jesus became more special than ever. I never felt closer to Him and felt the Holy Spirit’s presence in such a special way. I was listening like never before,” he said.
Kagan also spoke about his experience serving polio vaccinations to kids in India in 2010 and, shortly afterward, his experience with the death of his brother, Rod.
In the end, he urged the crowd to perform random acts of kindness to strangers, and “love one another as He (God) loves us.”
“I believe there is a way that we can show the Lord our love for each other, by practicing random acts of kindness,” he said. “Things we do for each other without any expectation of repayment or thanks. I challenge each of us to try it here in Easton.”
Like Kagan, Trams also urged the crowd to be kind and to live every day as it’s their last.
“I truly don’t believe that things happen by coincidence. I do believe that ever ything happens for a reason,” Trams said. “God has placed certain people in our lives for a reason.”
Trams was born in 1975 on a small island called Montserrat in the British West Indies, and his birth mother died when he was 2 years old. He was the youngest of his father’s 13 kids, and he didn’t take care of Trams. He spent some time in foster houses and eventually ran away from his last foster home — with an abusive distant relative — when he was 6 years old, and hung out near a local waterfront restaurant in Montserrat, performing tricks for tourists.
The woman who eventually became his new mom, Pat Trams, was in Montserrat “to meet Paul McCartney,” who recorded tracks in a nearby studio. But the musician had left the island, and she wound up managing the restaurant where Trams lived, he said.
One night, she found him rummaging through the dumpster outback, brought him in the restaurant and shared a ham sandwich with him. Their relationship developed over time, and she ended up adopting him and bringing him back to the U.S. on June 14, 1985 — Flag Day.
Trams said he was a 13-year-old living in Chestertown when he had a run-in with police. After getting in trouble for breaking into video game machines and stealing change, the way the police officer interacted with him “changed my life ... He was very genuine in what he said” and wanted to help him.
“That day I said, ‘You know what, I could do the same thing one day for somebody else,’” he said. “That was the day that I decided to go and try to do the right thing, go on the right path, and I wanted to become a police officer.”
Trams grew up to become a police officer, and he said he believes his first day on the street as a uniformed police officer was no coincidence — Flag Day, June 14, 1999.
Later on, while working for the Easton Police Department, where he has been for more than 18 years, he injured himself and it was found he had low kidney function.
By 2016, it got to the point where he needed a kidney transplant. “A lot of people stepped up and got tested” to see if they were a match for a kidney transplant. Only one co-worker was, Jill Garvey, and the operation was successful.
“God sent an angel to save my life,” Trams said. “I’ve seen my share of people who have been on dialysis for eight to 10 years and haven’t gotten a kidney.”
Trams said he tries to give back to the community and pay it forward after he was given a second chance at life with a kidney transplant. He hopes anyone he helps passes it on in return.
“Every day is a blessing,” Trams said. “We don’t know if we’ll be here tomorrow. My message to you is live every day as it is your last.”
From left, Pastor Jon Stephens, of First Wesleyan Church in Easton, Cpl. Lenox Trams, Alfred B. “Tim” Kagan Jr. and Easton Mayor Bob Willey at the 2017 Easton Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on Friday, Oct. 27.