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New Beginnings Lamin Jatta

Dec..2013 /Jan. 2014 Was Alex Haley’s Kunta Kinte Character Real?

grants a special interview about his famous African ancestor.

We’ll discuss Lamin Jatta’s documentary, share vintage photos & more.

Get expert publishing advice. Tamika Newhouse dishes out literary tips. Kwame Alexander shares insight about his career in children’s publishing. Veteran News Black and Missing breaks down what to do in crisis mode. Would you know what to do if a loved one went missing? 6 Quick Tips To Stay Healthy Bonita And Hodge Publishing Group is open for submissions. -


Volume 1- Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014

Lamin Jatta

A Chapter in History

Ask Tamika Newhouse

Kwame Alexander

Veteran News

Black and Missing

6 Tips to Stay Healthy

Bonita And Hodge Publishing Group


EDITOR-in-CHIEF We truly hope that your new year is off to an excellent start. I am ready for another opportunity to work on my goals this year. I’m sure that you are, too! This issue will consist of features for two months’ worth of content, due to illness. As I review the previous year, I want to thank all of the authors, public relations professionals and organizations that allowed us to share meaningful stories and career tips in Grove Street. My goal has been to offer more than gossip and coverage of who is walking down a red carpet. This journey turned into a bigger undertaking than I initially planned. However, through perseverance and a desire to increase my blogging skills, I have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people along the way. To those who took the time to read what we had to say, we appreciate you, too. I would also like to publicly thank author Shelia Lipsey for being an amazing copilot and friend. Learning about diverse cultures fosters greater tolerance for others who may be different from us. I am committed to offering diversity on Grove Street, although we do pay homage to African-Americans. In this issue, I decided to remind everyone to stay focused on making a fresh start, in terms of whatever you are trying to accomplish or improve. I know how frustrating it can be to work hard but feel undervalued, or feel like results are coming too slowly. At the same time, it’s better to make consistent efforts than to make one big splash, only to give up at the first sign of opposition. Not everyone will share our vision. Not everyone will agree with our passion. Not everyone will open a door to support whatever we are doing. Not everyone will be honest or nice. Does any of that matter? Not really. Having a thick skin allows us to keep moving. So we shall. When we get to where we want to go, the pressure of keeping up with success can prove just as daunting. While seizing the moment, individuals may come along who feel that they know our stories, but really, they don’t. I think of many noted people who have faced undue criticism or judgment. Through them, I have learned not to argue about truth or mistakes. Life can knock us down during certain moments, but sometimes people who believe in what we’re trying to do, the good energy of loved ones, and staying committed to our purpose can help us to get to where we’re meant to go. When I go to sleep at night, knowing that I have honestly done my part to make strides without cheating my way to the top, I feel renewed to try again. During this e-zine trip, we will focus on fresh perspectives and people who aspire to write new chapters in the world. Lamin Jatta was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about The Kunta Kinteh Family Foundation, The African American Cultural Reconnection, and his ancestor, Kunta Kinte. This special interview carries us beyond slavery into another phase. Tamika Newhouse, Kwame Alexander, and Shelia E. Lipsey offer literary perspectives in this issue. Black and Missing is an amazing organization that I would also like to share with you. Articles and national news will close out our theme of new beginnings. Best wishes,

Andrea


Photo usage compliments of Lamin Jatta

Lamin Jatta was born in Juffureh, which is located in the Gambia. He is a member of the Mandingo tribe. Every morning his family members greeted each other. His grandmother prayed and narrated history. When Lamin was about 3 or 4 years old, he heard the story of Kunta Kinte for the first time. However, around age 7, he began to understand the story. By age 10, he felt something in his heart. He learned that he was a descendant of the slave in the story, Roots. It took him many days to even have the appetite to eat. Through this realization, he remarked that today this makes him feel that he is a better man who is proud of what he is doing to keep his legacy alive. Grove Street: Today we have the pleasure of interviewing a very special guest. Lamin Jatta is a direct descendant of Kunta Kinte. Hi Lamin. How are you this evening? Lamin: I am doing very well, Andrea. Thank you for having me. Grove Street: Great. Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview. We would love to ask you some questions about who you are, and how you tie in with a trending topic right now. Could you please share where you’re from and who you are?


Lamin: I am from the Gambia, West Africa. A place called Juffureh. Grove Street: Wow. So you’re a direct descendant of Kunta Kinte? I know that there’s been a great debate about if ‘Roots’ was fact or fiction. Could you please share your real life connection with Kunta Kinte? Lamin: My connection with Kunta Kinte is that I was born into the family of my grandmother, who told me the story. The story of Kunta Kinte is a true story. Grove Street: Can you explain to us how your grandmother was connected? Lamin: My grandmother, Binta Kinte, was the 7th generation descendant of Kunta Kinte—the oldest one at the time Alex Haley visited the Gambia in 1967. She is the one who told him Kunta Kinte’s story. It had been narrated through oral history. As the elder of the family, she was responsible for telling it. Eventually, they realized they were talking about the same person. Grove Street: For people who have seen the infamous picture of Alex Haley standing with a woman in the Motherland, is that your grandmother? Click here to view Lamin: That is my grandmother—yes. Grove Street: Great. So people can actually understand who you are for sure. With the recent surge of the slave movie themes that are emerging at the box office, how do you feel about Kunta Kinte’s plight being compared to other characters in these movies? In your opinion, what does your legacy represent? Do you think there is room to compare, or should it stand on its own? Lamin: I don’t think there is any story like Kunta Kinte’s. He is my hero. What Kunta Kinte represents is fellow Africans who were forced to be enslaved. The other stories are completely different. You cannot compare Kunta Kinte’s story with characters from other movies. Grove Street: Okay. Could you tell me about Kunta Kinteh Island? Was it renamed? What is it like today? Lamin: Kunta Kinteh Island was called James Island for more than 300 years. The island was renamed in 2011. That also meant a lot to the people in the Juffureh and to the family. We are very happy to have it renamed because that was Kunta Kinte’s final place in the country before he was taken to The New World. Grove Street: How was the island renamed? Lamin: Chaz Guest raised the point to the President about why the island couldn’t be named after our own people. The President supported it. I give him a lot of credit for that. In 2011, at the International Roots Festival, they announced that they were going to rename the island.


Grove Street: As a native of Gambia, can you give any insight about what the people in Juffureh have endured? Lamin: First, I will talk generally about Gambia. Gambians are very kind and very welcoming to everybody around the globe. That’s why they call Gambia ‘The Smiling Coast.’ If you look at it on the map, on the side it looks like it is smiling. In 1977, the book ‘Roots’ came out and put Juffureh on the world map. A lot of tourists visit the family of Kunta Kinte there. Grove Street: As you know, I visited the Gambia. I was surprised that it is a tourist spot for many people from Europe. Can you clarify any misconceptions about Africa, and the Gambia, in particular? Lamin: Mainly European tourists who read ‘Roots’ or saw the movie visit the Gambia. Some people come to the island just to find out the truth about Kunta Kinte and what their ancestors did. They come not only for the sunshine, but also to learn about the history and Gambian culture. People from the Caribbean come, but not as many. Grove Street: Slavery is still a sensitive issue for many people. But as we know, a lot of people visit the Gambia and they can discuss the issue of slavery. Could you explain your view of slavery and what happened to people like Kunta Kinte? Lamin: You could not even imagine what people went through in slavery. Somebody’s child was forced to work with no freedom, no justice, no nothing. Many millions of slaves lost their lives. It’s more painful than anything that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Even animals were treated better. Grove Street: Right. It’s not only African-Americans or people of color that this topic becomes relevant for, but as you said, it’s about inhumane treatment. That ties into your documentary. Could you share news about it? Lamin: The documentary is coming along well. It is about the true descendants of Kunta Kinte who live still live in the Gambia, in the village of Juffureh. Many Americans know the story of ‘Roots’ and Alex Haley. Not many Americans know the other side of the story in Africa. Grove Street: This is your family’s version of the connection, another part of the story that some people never thought about. Are there many living ancestors in the Gambia? Lamin: I, myself, am part of the living ancestors of Kunta Kinte. The family is really big. Kunta Kinte has family in the Gambia and in the U.S. Grove Street: Will the documentary have an educational component? Lamin: Yes. I am happy to be a part of this challenge and work. I think we all have to know our story and history. If you truly know that, you will truly know who you are. That is also a part of the documentary.


Grove Street: What can people do to spread the word about the documentary? Lamin: The documentary is getting support from the media and African-Americans, but it still needs a lot of it. We are getting the word out to the general population. Even spreading the word on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, emailing people, especially on the social media side, is appreciated and helpful. Grove Street: What new beginning would you like to see for Gambians and AfricanAmericans? Lamin: Our goal is to bring the African-Americans from the diaspora, Caribbean, and Africans together to keep our stories beyond black history month. We should pass on these stories to the next generation. That is why we created The African American Cultural Reconnection, which helps people from the diaspora to connect with African descendants. Kunta Kinteh Island is going to be a permanent place of healing and reconciliation. Grove Street: Could you get into that a little more? I guess that connects with your Kunta Kinteh Family Foundation’s mission. Lamin: The Kunta Kinteh Family Foundation was set up by the multigenerational descendants of Kunta Kinte to empower his legacy, and to provide awareness about who he really is. Some of the people in the Juffureh are still suffering. We want to help beneficiaries with schools, safe drinking water and medical help. Connecting African-Americans would be accomplished by taking a trip to the Gambia. We will have a symposium to address questions. Some Africans have them about African-Americans. Some African-Americans ask me things such as, ‘Did Africans sell their own people?’ I’m not saying we can forget what happened in the past, but we can also move on and look forward to the future. It will help the next generation and give them something to tell their kids. Grove Street: In terms of race relations, in terms of youth, have you received any feedback regarding your message about legacy and pride. Have young people, people of different races, or those who know about your documentary, heard your message in person? Lamin: Yes. Many people I have met in the U.S thought it was just a story or a movie to make money. Some people saw it before and had doubts, but some people who did hear my story and saw my face said thank you for setting me free. That gave people belief about the story of Kunta Kinte. Grove Street: Do you have any simple tips for people about preserving their own family legacy? Lamin: People can do something at home. It took Alex Haley a twelve-year journey to the smallest place in the continent to find his ancestors. Everybody can do the same thing. I know his case was a little bit different because it was told to him by his grandmother. The story of Kunta Kinte has been passed from generation to generation, but he had no idea where to find these people in Africa. Reconnect to your roots.


Grove Street: If people want to keep up with the progress of the trips that will be offered, can you give us information about that? Lamin: You can go to https://www.facebook.com/KuntaKintehFamilyFoundation on Facebook. You can send an email to kuntakintehfamily@gmail.com. The mailing address is P. O. Box 18180 Tacoma, WA 98419. The phone number is 253-266-5967. Grove Street: This has been an honor and privilege to hear the gift of how you’re sharing your legacy, and furthering the commitment to understand more about Kunta Kinte. We look forward to your projects progressing. I encourage everyone to look you up online. Lamin: Thank you so much for having me. You may watch an interview clip of Lamin at http://vimeo.com/m/54737429. Connect with the Kunta Kinte Family Foundation on Facebook.


Roots was one of the most watched and most memorable mini-series. It aired on ABC-TV from January 23,1977 to January 30,1977. The History Channel announced that it will remake the mini-series that was based on Alex Haley’s novel.


Alex Haley attended a private function in Annapolis, MD. His stepmother, Zeona Haley and brother, George Haley, shared a laugh. Pictured below are Alex’s Haley’s father, Simon, and his stepmother, Zeona. Simon

was a veteran. Alex Haley served in the Coast Guard. His biological mother died at a young age. He traced his roots on his biological mother’s side first. Many years later, he traced his roots on his father’s side. Queen was Simon’s mother. The union resulted in the birth of the late Lois Ann Haley. She was Alex Haley’s half-sister.

These are family photos of Simon and Zeona Haley. I think it’s very important to chronicle the lives of our loved ones. My mom’s death was sudden, but pictures and notes are items that I greatly treasure.


She organized them by date and often wrote captions on the back. It’s a small tip that can help the person who inherits information to understand who shares their bloodline.

The statue of Alex Haley reading a story to children is located in Annapolis, MD.

This telegram and press release announcing a new project was sent to Lois Ann Haley Blackstone (Butts).

In 1977, elementary school students of all backgrounds wrote Alex Haley’s sister a stack of letters that were given to her. Ironically, one school where she worked was in walking distance of the dock where Kunta Kinte was said to have arrived in America. I found this while deciding what I would include in this month’s issue. I am usually very private about my experiences, but I decided to share a few bits of information. Some say that we should leave the history of slavery behind. Is it a question of balancing various aspects of the African-American experience, or should we?


Photo usage, compliments of Tamika Newhouse

Grove Street: What do you feel are a few key pros and cons of using a literary agent? Have you worked with any? Tamika: I have never worked with a literary agent before. Because of the work I have been able to do on my own, it was a moot point to have someone represent me. An agent is solely there to get you a great book deal. They don’t promote you to anyone but the publishers. They should be promoting your voice, your talent, and your stories. Nothing more. Grove Street: Based on experience, what is a key component to building a successful online platform? Tamika: Consistency. You cannot begin to work hard on promoting yourself and then slack off. If anything, you have to get more aggressive. You have to be unique and continuously think of ways to be different and to stand out.


Grove Street: What do you feel makes a good working match between a publisher and author? How do you, or would you, personally handle potential author challenges or conflicts, if they ever arose? Tamika: The publisher needs to know the author’s voice and who they are as a person. Knowing more about them than just their book helps build a stronger connection for the both of them. When issues appear, the best option is to be upfront, and to tackle them head on. No need to beat around the bush, because there is a mission still ahead and that’s to be successful. Get the issues out of the way so that you can continue to work together. Grove Street: Are book signings still worth it today, and do you think the concept of in-person promotion will change in 2014? Tamika: The concept of in-person promotions have changed. You have to be interesting and you have to add more elements of entertainment to your events to even get people out. Is this type of promotion dead? No. Is it harder to be successful at it? Yes, because so many read books on digital devices now. Stores are still closing as well. Book signings are still worth it but you have to be very creative with it and not do it all the time. Grove Street: What are your submission requirements? Tamika: To be clean, unique, and to pitch yourself. I look at you as the writer as well as the project because you are a packaged deal. Grove Street: Is anything on your 2014 (submission) wish list? Tamika: I wish to have a bigger brand. That’s it. I’m working on that. Grove Street: Please share two submission tips or expectations for working with authors. Tamika: Be sure of yourself and be as descriptive and organized as possible.


BIO: Tamika Newhouse is a self-published bestselling author who founded Delphine Publications, at the age of 21; Tamika appeared on various bestseller lists and won Self-Published Author of the Year at the 2009 African American Literary Awards only 9 months after her debut novel. In 2010, she was inducted into Who’s who in Black San Antonio. She landed a major publishing deal without an agent and still continues to write independent projects. In 2011, her company, Delphine Publications, won an African American Literary Award for Best Anthology and Tamika won SelfPublished Author of the Year for the second time. She was nominated by the National Women in Business Association for the 2011 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. In 2013, she was honored with the Author of Distinction E. Lynn Harris Award. Her latest award is for the 2013 African American Literary Award for Self-Published author of the year. Along with Delphine Publications, Tamika is the founder and President of African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) – an online book club and radio show catering to avid readers across the nation. She is also CEO of Obsessive Soul Media. With future projects in the works from short films, stage plays and much more, Tamika is a young woman on a mission. She has been featured in Uptown Magazine, Essence, Hello Beautiful, Juicy Magazine, and Vibe Vixen Magazine. Tamika presently tours the country speaking about overcoming her teen pregnancy to fulfill her dream, as well as teaching aspiring writers the publishing ropes. A former radio host, she hosted her own internet radio show (AAMBC) for over three years and continues to expand her brand. She is currently living in Atlanta with her son and daughter and is currently working on her next novel.

Stay in touch with Tamika Newhouse: www.TamikaNewhouse.com Twitter @TamikaNewhouse Instagram @Bossladytamika FB: BossladyTamikaNewho


Photo usage, compliments of Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is a writer based learn more about his exciting career.

in the Washington, DC area. Grove Street caught up with him to

Grove Street: What do you write about? Kwame: I write about roosters, teenagers, frogs, and family, but mostly what I write about is LOVE! Grove Street: Are you a full-time writer and publisher? Kwame: Full-time writer and literacy activist. Grove Street: What are a few of your most recent accomplishments? Kwame: MY YA novel, He Said, She Said, and my forthcoming middle grade novel, The Crossover, were both Junior Library Guild Selections. I have received two NAACP Image Award nominations for my children’s picture books. My picture book, Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band, is about a rooster that starts a jazz band with Duck Ellington, and is featured in every Cracker Barrel in the country. Most importantly, I have been successful at getting my five year old to get out of the bathtub within the hour‌


Grove Street: With 17 published books to your credit, what inspired you to get started in the writing field? Also, what sparked an interest to incorporate a project in Africa, Brazil, and other countries? Please explain what you do when you travel abroad. Kwame: I wrote my first poem at 12, for my mother, on Mother’s Day. It was probably a terrible poem, but she loved it. She cried. I figured if I could have this type of impact on women…Seriously, my parents are writers. I studied with Nikki Giovanni in college. How could I not be a writer? I also love being able to have a significant impact on people through words. I think ideas and words are the most powerful and empowering things we own as humans. I could certainly write about what I know, but I find it more interesting to write about stuff I don’t know. This, of course, requires research and inspiration. What better way to get both than to travel to other foreign places. As I mentioned, I am an activist, so wanting to share my love of language and literature with young people across the world is another part of my calling. I have been fortunate to be able to travel with other like-minded writers and writerly people to a few developing nations where books and reading can literally change lives. Grove Street: With arts programs being reduced or eliminated in so many schools, do you feel it can impact a student's learning and development? Kwame: YES! Listen to what Wynton Marsalis has to say: “The arts are our collective human heritage. You’re a better person if you know what Shakespeare was talking about; if you know what Beethoven struggled with; if you know what Louis Armstrong actually is saying through his horn. You’re better, because it’s just like you get to speak with the wisest people who ever lived.” Grove Street: Since you are a parent, does real life inspire any of your poetry or books? Kwame: Oh my, does it. I can’t tell you how many children’s picture books that I’ve written as a result of something funny my five-year old has said, or some interaction we’ve shared. I definitely steal from my life.


Grove Street: Are you a fan of self-publishing your books, or do you prefer shopping them to find a publisher instead? Why or why not? Kwame: Definitely a fan of self-publishing. I believe as writers we have to be resourceful, creative, and innovative and with growing technologies there are plenty opportunities to brand ourselves and our work in exciting ways. Being able to self-publish, when done right, brings us tremendous freedom. And, as my wife likes to say, “Extra” money. Grove Street: What are two tips that you would offer an aspiring children's book author? Kwame: Read children’s books. Don’t talk down to children. Read my children’s books. Oh wait, that’s three. Grove Street: Which project are you currently promoting? What is it about? Kwame: He Said, She Said is my new YA novel about the lengths a guy will go to in order to woo the girl of his dreams. He literally must change the world to get her attention. It’s a different kind of book, as I use a lot of social media to tell the story, but I think it’s kind of fun. Stay in touch with Kwame Alexander online. KwameAlexanderBooks on Facebook @kwamealexander on Twitter and Instagram www.kwamealexander.com


Final Salute, Inc. is was founded by a disabled Army veteran, Jaspen (Jas) Boothe. This past December, the organization’s rented, transitional home that is located in Virginia was suddenly in jeopardy. The public stepped in to help save a home for homeless women veterans. Supporters reportedly raised $55K, but more money was needed to save a place that is available for women veterans and their children. As time ticked in the background, a miracle happened. The remaining funds that were needed to finance a mortgage was given in honor of Karen Keesling by her trust. Instead of simply saying, “God bless our troops,� some recipients who heard the story, or saw the unsettling reports travel through social media, answered the call to action. Final Salute Inc. reported that over half of homeless veterans are single mothers. Why Final Salute Inc. found themselves in an unfortunate financial position can be found on their website, www.finalsaluteinc.org. Homeless veterans deserve better treatment, but at least the home was saved. Please visit the website to learn more about the organization, if you missed our feature. I invite you to bookmark it and remember Final Salute if you opt to support them in the future. In related news, Philadelphia gained a resource for women Veterans. Resources offered at the Women Veterans Center at the Veterans Multi-Service Center reportedly includes credit counseling, parenting after combat, yoga, home ownership, employment counseling, health and wellness, networking opportunities and various other services. If you know someone who may benefit from this information, the phone number to obtain further details is 215-923-2600.


Grove Street: Today we are speaking to one of the founders of a great organization. It is my pleasure to bring you some information that you may have heard of, or that you may have missed. Would you please share your name and the name of your lovely organization? Natalie: Sure, thank you for having me. My name is Natalie Wilson. I am one of the co-founders of an organization called Black and Missing Foundation. We bring awareness to missing people of color. It is a non-profit organization that is based in Maryland. However, we are a national organization. Our mission is threefold. Not only to bring awareness to missing people of color, but to help find them, and to educate our community on personal safety. Grove Street: That’s wonderful. That gets into some of my questions. What made you and your partner get up and do something about this issue? Natalie: There was a young lady by the name of Tamika Huston who went missing out of Spartanburg, South Carolina. That’s where my sister-in-law is from. Tamika’s family really struggled to get any type of coverage when she went missing. Later on, Natalee Holloway went missing and, of course, she dominated the news. So my sister-in-law (a veteran police officer), and I (I’m in media and public relations), did some research during that time and discovered that 30 percent of all persons missing were of color. Now that number has grown to 40 percent. We decided that we couldn’t just sit back and do nothing at all. We had to get involved and bring this issue to light. Grove Street: Can you take me back to that statistic? I know you had some FBI statistics, I believe from 2012. Is this from the FBI statistic? If so, does it consist of men, women, or children or a combination thereof? Natalie: It’s a combination of men, women, and children. It’s a combination of persons of color. However, African-Americans make up 33 percent of all of those missing. Grove Street: Okay. Does Black & Missing extend help to those of color who are not necessarily African-American? I did see some other people listed on the website, too. Natalie: Yes, our focus is on missing people of color. Not only African-Americans, but Hispanics, Asian, Native American—anyone that is of color. Grove Street: Do you feel that the media coverage is a resource or race issue, as far as how authorities search for people that are missing, and how the media pushes out the messaging? Natalie: I think it’s threefold. We all have a part to play. The media has a part to play in bringing awareness to our missing. Law enforcement has a part to play by being proactive and taking


police reports. And our community has a part to play in saying something if they see something. As you know, in the African-American and persons of color community, there is just no snitching. Grove Street: Right. Natalie: But we believe that someone knows something. Law enforcement—sometimes we hear this from families. They go to file a police report. They refuse to take it because they make comments like ‘Is your loved one on drugs?’ I think that is really insensitive. Or they will say a young person ran away, so therefore they do not receive the Amber Alert. I think there is this stereotype that individuals, especially from a lower economic standpoint, are involved in some type of criminal activity, and therefore, that is the type of behavior that exists in that environment. That’s not necessarily the case. Grove Street: Right. Natalie: Because people go missing for a number of reasons. In this area, sex trafficking is a big issue. Grove Street: Wow. In P.G. County? Natalie: Yes. P.G. County is one of the major hubs for sex trafficking. Individuals go missing because there are a number of seniors who tend to wander away. They suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia and wander away. There are parental abductions. There are also abductions by strangers. Grove Street: As far as the crime piece, do you feel a lot of cases are tied to people being crime victims? Natalie: I don’t believe our community fully understands that this really exists in our community. We don’t see ourselves in the news. It has gotten better, but we still have a long way to go. As we’re educating our community and talking to people, they’re saying you know this doesn’t happen in my community—like sex trafficking, or it’s happening abroad. No, it’s happening down the street from you. It’s happening around the corner. It could happen next door to you. We need to be more aware and alert as to what’s happening in our community. Grove Street: I didn’t even know that about sex trafficking. That opened my eyes to that as well. What is a critical missing person? Natalie: A critical missing person is someone who has special needs. It can be a child or it can be an adult who needs medication. Of course, everyone needs to be found right away, but this person has special needs. Grove Street: What exactly do you and your sister-in-law do on the prevention side? Natalie: Education is key. We educate our children about personal safety. We educate them about stranger danger. There are so many kids now that are latch key kids. There are so many kids that have access to social media. These predators are targeting these children through social media. Children are becoming comfortable with them, and they release sensitive information that


they shouldn’t, such as their address, or they’re lured into meeting a predator somewhere. Many times these children believe they are talking to someone their age and they are not. So our job is to educate parents. Educate children. Educate the children of seniors. One of the things that we try to remind parents of is to have a recent photo of your child. If they go missing, we need to know who to look for. Grove Street: Are there any other general prevention tips that you would say would be good to know? Natalie: Again, having that open line of communication with your children. Do you know who their friends are? Do you know who they’re hanging out with? Just being vigilant. As you go about your day, be aware of your surroundings. As you go out at night, be mindful of where you are. Grove Street: There were some happy success stories on your website about people being found. Do you work with law enforcement in that process? I also noticed your Facebook community is very active, where people were saying I posted it in this state or my state. When someone is found, how is it normally done, and is it usually in a certain time frame? Natalie: Well, time is of the essence. The more time it takes in finding someone, you lose credible material or recollection. But we are so grateful for our social media followers. They are very active and want to make a difference. We all do. We want to find these missing individuals or provide closure for their families. We can’t wait for the 5:00 or 4:00 or the 10:00 news cycle. If someone is missing, we have to get that information out as quickly as we can, so people can be vigilant, and they can be on the lookout for those missing individuals. Grove Street: Just for the record, can you tell people who want to pitch in and look you up, the best place to connect to stay informed, so they know who is missing? Natalie: Sure. We ask people to take a look at our website, which is www.bamfi.org. Come on our website and take a look at who is missing in your state. You may have some information and hold the key to help find them. And, of course, please follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We send out alerts many times during the day to help find our missing. Grove Street: That’s really great. What would you say as far as the process? Can you walk us through generally what they would do, if someone finds themselves in need of your service? Natalie: If your loved one is missing, especially if your child has special needs, you need to report them to the authorities right away. Time is of the essence. In many states, there may be a 24-hour waiting period for an adult. However, in the District of Columbia and Illinois, you can report your missing adult right away. It is important to file a police report. It is important to have pertinent information about the missing person. Where did they go missing? What where they last wearing? Do they have any special characteristics like tattoos, pierced body parts—like a nose, an ear—anything that can help identify them. Please also canvas the area. Pass out flyers. Call family and friends to see if maybe they have seen them. What we do—again—my sister-inlaw is a veteran police officer, so we help the family through the process. They may have questions about how they go about filing a police report, or I’m not getting any assistance from


law enforcement. She guides them. My role is to guide them through getting that media coverage. We do all that we can to help find them. Grove Street: I read some of the testimonials and thank yous. I already know you all are fabulous at what you do. You could just feel the tone of sincerity that so many people had. I want to say thank you for doing this wonderful work as a non-profit and free resource. If someone has to get in touch with you, is filling out the contact form the best way to go about it? Natalie: If they go on our website, there is a form they can complete to report a loved one missing. There is a form they can fill out to provide a tip to us to report a missing person. We also have a checklist on our site to help families from A through Z, when someone goes missing, because it is a very traumatic time. We know that you can’t think clearly, because you’re so frazzled. Every resource that you need is available on our website, which is www.BAMFI.org. Grove Street: I also read that worked with you for a bit of time. What was that about, and would you do that again with anybody? Natalie: Yes. for two seasons had a show called ‘Find Our Missing.’ We partnered with them in identifying profiles for the show. It was a great program. It highlighted missing people who would not have gotten any coverage at all. Programs like that are very important. The community needs to know that these individuals are missing so they can be vigilant. Grove Street: How can the public support you? What can the public do so we can let networks know we want these kinds of programs, too? What do we need to do? Natalie: We need to be proactive. We need to write, write, and write in to the gatekeepers. We need to work with our elected leaders to show that we are important, too. Our missing need to be found. Throughout the month of December, we are asking individuals to assist us by making a donation that could help find our missing individuals, or help provide closure for families. Because again, our organization is a non-profit, so any donation that you give is tax deductible. Whatever someone can give, we are grateful for that. A hundred percent of the funds go towards finding our missing and bringing awareness to their disappearance. Grove Street: If someone is a Prince George’s County or Maryland resident, who do we contact on your behalf to maybe help garner your support for what you’re doing now that we know about it? Natalie: Specifically in Prince George’s County, it is a hub for sex trafficking. It is important to reach out to your elected leaders. Ask what plans they have in place to protect our community. What plans do they have in place to protect these men and women who are being sold into sex trafficking? Many times these individuals are treated as criminals. Reaching out and helping us to find our missing is very important and needed. This organization is not about me. It’s not about my sister-in-law. It was created for our community. Our slogan is ‘Help Us Find Us.’ If someone is missing in P.G. County, we want people to get involved. Come out and help us find the missing individual. It’s a matter of spreading the word. We need people to know that Black and Missing Foundation is here to help them. It’s here to help our community. Again, we


cannot wait for the news cycle. We have to take matters into our own hands and bring awareness to our missing individuals. Following us on any social media outlets would be greatly appreciated. Grove Street: Are there any upcoming events or fundraisers? Natalie: Yes. On May 24, 2014, we will be hosting our second annual 5k. The very first one was very successful. We had a good turnout. We are excited and looking forward to an even greater audience. Grove Street: Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure and greatly needed education. I had no idea this was here under my nose. That’s exactly why we want to share this with other people who may be in the same category as I was. I am definitely going to follow you on social media, too. Natalie: Sounds good. Thank you.


Do all that you can do, but strive to maintain peace throughout your journey.


6 Quick Tips to Stay Healthy By Andrea Blackstone

One of the biggest investments that we can make in life is in our health. If we are unwell, how can we perform at an optimal level at work or at home? Taking steps to stay healthy can help us thrive. What can you do to feed your mind, body, and spirit, while staying healthy on the go? These five tips may help you to jumpstart a personal strategy. Manage work stress by prioritizing issues. When feeling overwhelmed, don’t divulge in bad habits like smoking or heavy drinking to deal with burnout. Dissect pieces of stressful tasks with priority. At least once a week, turn off your cell phone (or at least set it to vibrate), shut down your home computer, and turn off your television for a specified block of time. Indulge in a hobby. Do something personally fulfilling, like reading your favorite book, or fixing up a distressed piece of furniture that you discovered at a flea market. Socialize with loved ones. Stay connected to your partner or close friends. Chances are, you will feel better equipped to think more rationally after a few doses of soulful restoration. Exercise before you start your day. Engage in micro ten or fifteen minute workouts. Don’t exercise to the point of extreme exhaustion. Wake up your endorphins with physical activity. Fight depression by getting physical. Stretch to warm up your muscles. Mediate and engage in a few sets of yoga poses, breathing exercises, or do a few sets of jumping jacks along with your favorite song. The choice of how to inspire feelings of vitality and well-being is yours. Set the tone for a positive day. Listen to your body. Take time to get checkups. Note your family history, while parents, siblings and other individuals can answer your questions. When relatives pass away, sometimes we forget critical health information. Down the road, providing medical professionals with insight into risk factors can be invaluable. Never feel too busy to take care of yourself. If you feel that you need medical attention, seek it before symptoms become unbearable or serious. Derail negative thinking. Emotional and physical health factors can empower or deplete us. Try to ensure that you aren’t falling into a sour pattern of pessimism. Identity whatever makes you


unhappy. Take steps to improve your feelings. Maintain a fulfilling personal life. Surround yourself with positive people who affirm that you will attract positive experiences. Remind yourself that the universe has a special purpose for you. Value yourself. Feed your body super foods. Give your immune system a boost by eating fresh, high-quality foods as often as possible. Pack your diet with vitamin rich foods and micronutrients. In addition to juicing fruits and vegetables, indulge in spices, herbs and low-calorie foods. Monitor consumption of sodium and sugar. Add supplements to your daily regimen. Take advantage of getting proper rest, whenever you can. Cut back on coffee. Drink more water. The Republic of Tea offers caffeine-free options that may have health benefits. Organic Papaya Leaf Tea with Mint is another brand. Decompress at the close of a work or school day. Never go to bed angry. Mediate or pray to help clear away negative energy.


Bonita and Hodge Publishing Group LLC is the vision of a family of literary lovers, avid readers, and entrepreneurs with dreams of establishing a global publishing company. The collaboration of these talented, energetic, go-getters resulted in the formation of Bonita and Hodge Publishing Group LLC. Founded and established in January 2012, Bonita and Hodge Publishing Group, LLC is a small press publisher focused on making an enormous impact in the literary industry. We are committed to publishing outstanding books by talented authors representing a variety of genres. Our passion for literature is the foundation of our culture and mission, which is to publish books that are well written, informative and entertaining. If you are searching for a traditional publishing company for your cherished manuscript visit www.bonitaandhodgepublishing.com for submission guidelines.

Author Shelia E. Lipsey is acquisitions editor at the publishing company as well as a successful Bonita And Hodge author.

Connect with Shelia SheliaELipseyReaders (Facebook) Twitter @shelialipsey & Instagram


Thank you for spending time with us. Please email feedback or questions to velocitydmv@gmail.com. We now have a Facebook page, so please join Grove Street there https://www.facebook.com/grove.street.12177 or through our fan page. Would you like to subscribe to Grove Street? Please do @ The Reader's and Author's Nook. That landing page will offer snippets and tidbit that link to the e-zine. It would be much appreciated if you share our information with friends or fellow readers. You may like us through Issuu.com, too. Each issue of Grove Street is brought to you compliments of Surge Marketing Group, LLC. If you‘re looking for creative publishing and marketing professionals for your business or publishing company, we provide manuscript critiques, press releases, and promotional services at affordable rates. Best wishes, Andrea Twitter: @AndreaBlackston Add Authoress Andrea Blackstone on Facebook.

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