What is a defining moment in your career and life?
Possibly the most defining professional moment in my life of service is the creation of The Black Adoption Consortium aka BAC.(1990-2000) It was a significant piece of child welfare service history. BAC was one of only 6 Black adoption agencies in the country and the 1st in New Jersey. It quickly reached on-going national media recognition for its culturally focused and successful program. God assigned me and co-founder and sistafriend Jackie Banks the task of advocating and recruiting for Black families to adopt toddler age and older Black children especially boys who are less adopted simply because they are Black boys! My passion and agency premise was to “Raise Our Sons to Save Our Men”. I was a spokesperson for the National Association of Black Social Workers historically fighting the battle against years of transracial adoption practices. Second life assignment was working with seniors at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. They supported my vision to address specific needs of African & Caribbean seniors with a program called ACE. This initiative is still a part of the agency. Since retirement my passion for service is the creation of the non-profit ICAP INC. We provide workshops to encourage people to make Life Care Plans and have such affairs in order. We accomplish this topic using a fun tool called the Hello Game. ICAP also has an African American Heritage component to provide workshops & tours about the Philly region’s African American history before/during and after enslavement. We need to tell our stories and learn our history to bridge a gap in our diaspora connection. Thirdly, we focus on abstinence and celibacy for life seasoned women as single, divorced, separated or widowed to build self-esteem and make healthy, right choices in relationships.
Personal life notes… I raised my son, Rasheen to be a strong and independent Black man with Christian values. I also had the privilege to care for and return the love to my parents under their individual end of earthly life journeys under hospice care. I will be forever humbled by these daughterly experiences and learned first-hand the true meaning of God’s word (Exodus 20:12) “…to honor thy mother and thy father that your days may be long on earth”. My life ministry is serving my church as a lay leader deaconess, drama ministry director, choir member, Sunday school and whatever special tasks the pastor and leadership assigns to me.
What challenges have you faced as a woman of color in your field and how did you overcome them?
Colorism, sexism, racism and culturalism are at different times singular or multiple challenges I have faced in my professional years. Each of these isms can intimidate and make white leadership and white co-workers insecure. I think my challenges were slightly different in the non-profit field as opposed to the profit field. I recognized that they were threatened and insecure about me but I wasn’t about them. This actually raised my professional esteem instead of tearing it down. I made sure that my achievements were credited to my strong work ethic. As Black women we are more often overlooked if other women are an option.
What woman inspires you and why?
My mother was/is even in her eternal heavenly home my inspiration! She encouraged me to seek and know my individuality. She never experienced independent living as she went from her parents to her husband (my father) without ever being on her own. Mommy was a 25 year breast cancer survivor and inspired other survivors. She never complained about her life struggles. Others saw her quiet strength and used it for their life model. Known for her life remedy and advice to the many who cherished her love was her famous wisdom quote “…take it to the Lord and leave it there”.
What is your advice to the younger generation of women coming after you?
Seek, recognize and believe you can cultivate your visions into realities! Kujichagulia (self-determination). Embrace other sisters in your generation for their similarities and respect and appreciate their differences. Honor the Queens (elders) before you and strive to be as in Proverbs 31:25 states that “she is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future…”! Learn your history as Black and diasporic women for the confidence to achieve and become a virtuous woman! Remember as in Psalm 139:14 “… you are fearfully and wonderfully made…”.
What does being a part of the African Diaspora mean to you?
To recognize the common thread lineage of our history. Learning and helping to bridge the gap between the motherland and our american experiences. Contributing to the sustainable and supportive connections to the issues of our Blackness. I am honored to be a part of the Funtimes team in order to make a contribution and be part of the diaspora. It is my lifeline to relationships with all my people.