Jackie Siegel Founder of
Saving Children's Lives in the Opioid Crisis communiquemagazine.com
Contents Table of
Rod Lopez, CEO New Style Independent Pictures and Video Production
Faith Over Fear
Dr. Fredrick Jacobs: Celebrity’s Soul Food CEO
Meet Twin Powers Kente’ and Shonda Scott
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?
Maria Tallchief: America’s First Prima Ballerina
A Look at Veteran’s Day From the Eyes of a Military Spouse
Bloom in the Dark
A Black British HERstory Month
Special Feature: Reintroducing Dr. Robin Smith
Special Feature: Rhonda Morman
Cover Story: Jackie Siegel, The Queen of Versailles
I Will Play for Nigeria One Day
Accidental Entrepreneur, Intentional Overcomer
Shoot For The Stars
Photography is Art
My Military Life
A Beautiful Crown
Janice Murrell: Service with Resilience
Legacy of Service: Danielle M. Batiste
From the Editor communiqué Magazine is an international publication that celebrates people from around the world. Everyone has a story. communiqué Magazine takes the message out of the story to deliver quality, relatable articles that inspire, teach, and encourage all readers, including children. The world needs understanding and accountability. In this edition it is my goal to educate and inform readers of the dangers of opioids. This issue is dedicated to men, women, and children that are addicted to drugs of any kind. We want this publication to be a beacon of light, hope, education, and encouragement for people struggling with addictions. We are hoping that the readers deem the information and resources useful. Each step taken towards helping someone remove their addiction is another chance to save a life. We are thankful to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for providing information about opioids to be used in this issue. We are honored to feature Jacqueline "Jackie" Siegel, as our cover story. She is an American socialite, model, actress and beauty pageant director. She is one of the main subjects of the 2012 documentary film The Queen of Versailles, directed by Lauren Greenfield. She is a former winner of the Mrs. Florida America beauty pageant and now owns the Mrs. Florida America beauty pageant contest and is its director. Jackie is on the board of directors of Westgate Resorts. Jackie is married to David Siegel, the founder and chief executive of Westgate Resorts, a national timeshare company. David is the CEO of CFI Resorts Management Inc. and Central Florida Investments Inc. Sadly, Jackie and David Siegel lost their beautiful 18 year old daughter Victoria Siegel in 2015 to an overdose. Victoria was one of 129 Americans to die from a drug overdose that day in 2015. The Siegel’s are the Founders of Victoria’s Voice Foundation, a foundation created in memory of Victoria Siegel. The organization is actively working to raise awareness about substance abuse, and support youth and families in overcoming experimentation and addiction. Learn how you can help here: http://www.victoriasiegelfoundation.org/ Read the article about ‘Social Media for Good’ and the wonderful opportunity my team and I had meeting Jackie Siegel and her team along with the social media influencers in Las Vegas, NV this summer. Celebrity Writer, C. NaTasha Richburg captured a great story and Photographer, Sowele captured great images. I enjoyed meeting Jackie Siegel. I applaud her efforts and understand her relentless efforts to save lives. Jackie and I spent time talking, one on one, and it is evident that she will never stop her work towards educating youth about addictions, and Victoria’s memory will live on forever. We have so many more articles of great stories, beautiful words of encouragement, and insight into some of our favorite topics such as wellness, faith, and business. This issue recognizes our Veteran Military Service Members across all branches of the military. I am a Special Disabled Veteran that served in the U.S. Army. I am proud to have served alongside so many great men and women. I thank all veterans for their service. Thank you for taking time to read communiqué Magazine. This issue is dedicated to the man that raised me, Richard Doctor, Sr. and I pause in respect and acknowledgement for his proud and selfless service as a Vietnam Veteran.
With appreciation, C. 3
ROD LOPEZ CEO
New Style Independent Pictures and Video Production
written by C. NaTasha Richburg
Rod Lopez, President/CEO of New Style Independent Pictures and Video Production, is currently in the midst of post-production and promoting his latest feature film documentary “Black Men in America,” and has not allowed COVID-19 to take away life’s hustle and bustle or slow the release of this “doc that shows what it is like to be a Black man in America in 2020.” A devoted husband to Mariely and doting father of two young children, Rod is a family man who spends quality time with his family. “I met my wife downtown at a club we used to frequent called ‘Latin Palace’. We used to see each other there all the time until I was able to get enough courage to ask her out. To my surprise, she said yes. We went out on one date and then I didn’t hear from her for about 6 weeks. For some reason, I heard back from her again, and the rest 5
is history. We’ve been married for 11 years now. We have 2 children, Benjamin who is 7, and Audrey who is 4 years old.” Rod is a friendly yet focused businessman with a passion for the art of filmmaking. Late nights are often fueled by his favorite food of “rice, beans and chicken stew,” identified as his “Spanish food standard.” Rod made it very clear that he loves what he does for a living, although filmmaking is a difficult business. “Spending my summers at my grandmas’ was my favorite time. I used to split my vacation time between my two grandmothers, and it was the best time ever. I remember vividly going to the countryside (where my grandma on my father side lived) and just having the best time ever. Funny thing is they had nothing like what we have today. There was no power, no electricity, no TV, radio, Internet, games, etc. and yet those times were the absolute best times I ever had in my life. Just being out in the fields, being by the river, playing out in nature, I had it good!” In spite of the difficulty of maintaining a successful filmmaking business, Rod takes a motivated view of filmmaking as an art form that allows him to express himself, and “with any art, it is consistently evolving so your job is never done.” Not only does Rod work on projects customers bring him; he also has movie projects of his own. Ultimately, Rod would like to do at
least one feature film each year and complete at least one music video each month, along with maintaining his commercial business. Rod’s company motto is “New style of filming with old-school principles.” This means that new business opportunities will arise as long as old-school business principles are followed. What background predates your Director/ Filmmaker debut? I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but grew up between the Dominican Republic and New York (NY). Then I moved to NY permanently at the age of 15. I went to school to play baseball on a baseball scholarship. Before that, I lived in New York City for some time before I eventually moved to Maryland. While living in Maryland, I attended Essex Community College and played two years of baseball. I eventually got signed to play Minor League Baseball with the Baltimore Orioles, where I played a couple of years. I got an injury that permanently sidelined my career, so I decided to go back to college. What University did you attend? I went to Towson State University. I really didn't know what I was going to do at the time, but I decided I'd just take a bunch of intro classes and different things, you know, I thought maybe I'd become a lawyer or a forensic scientist or a psychologist. I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I took the class Introduction to Film. I remember that on the first day of that class, I decided filmmaking was going to be my new career. The process of filmmaking captivated me. I remember my professor Tom Brando showing some behind-thescenes of a film he had made, and I was immediately hooked. Then I went to the New York Film Academy. I majored in filmmaking and concentrated on directing and cinematography. I've been working in the film industry and television ever since. communiqué Magazine
What is the greatest challenge you face in today's filmmaking industry? The biggest challenge, I guess, depends on what you mean when you say filmmaking. If we're talking about making films, the biggest challenge is raising funds, or getting the money. Other challenging aspects of filmmaking when making music videos and corporate videos is staying creative and ahead of the game when it comes to technology. Obviously, we live in a very technological world, and filmmaking is no different. There are different software types and different cameras coming out every six months. I focus on staying ahead of those technological innovations and stay on top of what’s big nowadays. How is the filmmaking scene in Maryland? Filmmaking in Maryland is good. There are a lot of people working on a lot of different projects. We do get some Hollywood projects here, but it's mostly locals making independent films. One of the biggest challenges for us is there should be more people doing projects together. There are groups of people doing things together to the exclusion of others, so expanding and maybe collaborating more would be good. How has the filmmaking business changed? Nowadays filmmaking is all digital. Ten years ago, there were no digital films or digital cameras. Actual film as we know it from the original days of filming is old now. Digital is currently used to shoot, edit, and distribute movies/videos. When I first got started, I had to literally cut the film with my hands with an actual machine. Nowadays DVDs and media like that are now digital. From time to time people ask me for a DVD, and I have to show them how to retrieve a digitized version of their movie or video. Some people are not aware that most computers nowadays have neither a DVD drive nor a CD drive. What advice can you give to other upcoming filmmakers? The main advice I always give people is don't go into the filmmaking business, or any business, just for the money. If you want to be a storyteller and you want to tell stories, do it for
that. Definitely don't do it because you want to make a lot of money. It’s very unlikely you will make a lot of money. For the most part you have to be a great storyteller, and you have to like filmmaking and editing. My second piece of advice is that you have to make films you know. Whatever it is, films, music, and videos, whatever, you have to continue to work in film, keep doing projects even if it's a little film with your friends, so you have to continue shooting. Shoot things you know and things you don’t know. That's how you’re going to develop. I think that’s worked for me, though it’s been hard. The more work you complete, the more you learn about filming, which allows you to learn from your mistakes. Eventually, you’ll learn what works and what doesn't work. How has the pandemic impacted your business? What is your hope for the future? It has impacted it in some ways. Mostly, we’ve had to postpone a lot of shoots and concentrate mostly on editing. We’ve also increased live stream work. We have been doing mostly live streams. But this is across the board for almost any industry. Sometimes we have to adjust to the circumstances, and that’s what we’ve been doing. My hope is that we can resume normal business as it used to be, but that’s yet to be determined. I’m sure COVID-19 has changed some things that will stay changed, but hopefully we will be able to return to filmmaking as usual soon. Resting in the stillness brought upon all of us by COVID-19, Americans have paused to focus on what is happening around us. Thus, now is a great time to present new productions to the viewing audience. What film are you currently promoting? My most recent documentary is “Black Men in America.” The documentary presents what it’s like to be a Black man in America in 2020. Where can we reach you? Rod Lopez, New Style Independent Pictures Film and Video Production, Newstyleip@gmail.com http://newstyleip.com @NewStyleip @rodlopezfilms (410) 662-3521
WWW.PAM4NELLALLC.COM communiqué Magazine 10
R E V O FEAR written by Corretta L. Doctor DeWanda “Dee” Mitchell is the ultimate Teal Diva. Deserving of a royal title, Dee is a 10 year Ovarian cancer survivor, and we celebrate her for staying the course, remaining positive, and for all of the work she does for others in the fight against cancer. Dee is undoubtedly, a true dedicated advocate in the race to find a cure for ovarian cancer. Dee’s road has not been easy. September 11th is a day our nation will never forget. It is the day that multiple terrorist attacks took place in different parts of our country. The attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities, over 25,000 injuries, and substantial long-term health consequences, in addition to at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. It is the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed, respectively. September 11th in the year 2010 is a day that Dee and her family will never forget. It is the day she was diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is now the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death among females in the United States. That said, deaths
diagnosis, Dee was diagnosed with Stage 2C Breast Cancer, and early onset BRCA 1 Gene. She underwent breast surgery. The mindset of a survivor always seeks understanding and chooses faith over fear. Dee was grounded into a community of other survivors and was educated on surviving ovarian cancer. Her mindset was about living, and she never looked at her diagnosis as a death sentence. Instead, she went to work educating and inspiring herself and others. She began her treatments and she nestled closely with her children and started working on her efforts to increase awareness in others about ovarian cancer. Helping others is the motivation that keeps Dee happy.
from ovarian cancer have been falling in the U.S. over the past 2 decades, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Dee is the oldest out of the family of eight children. She has three children, a son and a daughter and she has a bonus daughter, all of whom she loves dearly, and they are very close. Dee is a very proud grandmother to five lovely grandchildren, two grandsons and three granddaughters. This retired United States Army veteran does not allow negativity in her space. You have to create your own atmosphere and work on yourself. Tell yourself that everything will be alright. To ward off challenges with depression, Dee sees a Psychiatrist to help her maintain a healthy level of mental wellness. So often we know we need help but are afraid or ashamed to seek therapy. This is a stigma related issue, and this matter is at the forefront of our nation’s crisis of mental health challenges. If we seek help, we can be healed, and ‘talk’ saves lives. Talk it through and let your mind be clear. Staying focused on inner fitness is important to Dee. One of her favorite tunes is ‘Keep Your Head to the Sky’ by Earth, Wind & Fire. Before Dee’s cancer diagnosis she was the advocate and caregiver for her beloved Aunt Berda Beamon. Berda, who is Dee’s mother’s only sister, raised Dee. Aunt Berda died of ovarian cancer September 18, 2004. Exactly six years and one week later, Dee would find herself preparing to fight the same battle as Aunt Berda. In 2013, just three years after receiving an ovarian cancer
Dee lives in San Bernardino, California and is 58 years old. Each year she hosts a 5K Walk and Run at CBS Studios, and an Ovarian Cancer Charitable Luncheon to raise funds to help raise awareness, education and research. Dee serves on the Executive Board of OASIS Southern California and volunteers for Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA). She is a Speaker for the Survival Teaching Students (STS) and she is the President of the Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Greater California. Dee is also an Advisory Board Member for the Women Veteran Unity Group for California. Having served in the military, this is an honor and passion for Dee. Finally, with all of the advocacy and support efforts Dee undertakes in her day to day, she still finds time to do something else she really loves; Dee is the Owner/Consultant of “Dee Unlimited Corporation”, an Event Planning Company that specializes in bringing your event to your vision, filled with upscale décor and bling. Visit www.ovariancancercalifornia.com for the Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Greater California. Follow Dee on Instagram @tealdeeva. DeWanda “Dee” Mitchell is more than a Survivor; she is hope, patience, kindness, and love to many women across the globe. As of today, she is doing well. She is still taking a Chemotherapy Pill called Lynparza, a Maintenance treatment to help prevent any further recurrences. Dee leaves us with this closing thought: “I can, and I will. There's no other Option. Tell yourself this affirmation every day. Through treatments, doctor visits, and whatever else comes your way, always remember through the midst of it all that your faith is bigger than your fear”.
The global pandemic had an immediate adverse effect on a lot of businesses and organizations, to include public services and educational facilities. School aged children were forced to stay at home and attend school through distance learning, with the help of their parents. Many parents work full time and they also underwent a change of their workplace environment. While many adults are educated and are good at multitasking, not everyone is equipped with the skill to teach and educate their children at home. Good news! There is help available for those parents (and students) that need it. StepByStep Tutoring Enrichment Program is your answer. StepByStep is a tutor-matching company that offers virtual and in-person tutoring for elementary scholars, Pre-K through fifth grade. The subjects they focus on are math, science, reading and writing. They offer general help with homework and accommodate special needs students and other educational projects as required. The mission of StepByStep is to enable scholars to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible lifelong learners. StepByStep adds value to a childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education by providing a world-class enriching experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who is connected to the program. As soon as you think your child may benefit from tutoring, then take action to get them involved in the StepByStep program. The process for getting matched with a S.T.E.P. Tutor is simple and begins by contacting the company by phone, email or directly from their website. The staff conducts a brief interview with the parent(s) about their needs. Following the initial interview, they send a followup questionnaire to get the specifics about the parent and their scholarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs. After receipt of the questionnaire, the staff personally matches the parent with one of their pre-vetted, qualified tutors. The staff will then conduct a follow-up call and set up a date and time to get started. The parent and tutor are connected, and they schedule tutoring sessions. Parents work directly with the assigned tutor to confirm times, cancellations, reschedule, etc. Education enrichment is a good way to ensure success for your scholar. We asked StepByStep a few questions that many parents will want to know, here is a summary of the questions we discussed.
a child? When working with our scholars, we engage them with programs they are familiar with, such as I-Ready, Quizizz and Kahoot. We also utilize the Education.com platform to give our scholar a fun and interactive way to improve in the topics being taught in their classroom at the time. Our goal is not just for our scholars to know the material, but to master every assignment given to them. Does StepByStep offer group training? StepByStep does offers group tutoring sessions as well. For our group sessions, our student to tutor ratio varies from 2 to 5 scholars per tutor. Does StepByStep work with children across the country? At this time StepByStep only service elementary scholars in the state of Florida. Our goal in the near future is to be able to assist parents and their scholars throughout the USA. We understand state educational standards vary widely throughout the United States, meaning students with similar academic skills are being evaluated differently depending upon the states where they live. So, to accomplish this goal, we are on a mission to find tutors in every state. This will enable us to provide the best tutoring outcome for all scholars, with all of our tutors uniquely teaching according to their state standards. Does StepByStep offer services to private and public schools and daycare centers? StepByStep services are available for all schools, programs and individuals in need of us. As our partner, you'll have direct input on our joint tutoring program, ensuring students are making the progress you want to see. As a result, your school or program can better meet its milestones and metrics of success (whether it's test scores or graduation rates). Our tutors are given access to select students for certain windows during the school day (i.e. study hall, home room, etc.). This lends specialized assistance to school or program staff interested in helping specific students improve or advance. Most tutoring companies aren't plugged into class curriculum. So, tutors show up on the door completely unprepared. They have no tools for plugging into lesson plans or test and quiz results. This makes it impossible to measure progress and build upon it. One benefit of partnering with us is our tutors are given direct access to curriculum and report cards, so they know exactly what a student is learning and can better track and measure results.
What type of technology is involved when you work with
Meet "Twin Powers"
KENTÉ AND SHONDA SCOTT:
ENTERTAINERS, ENTREPRENEURS, AND PODCAST HOSTS written by JC Gardner Oakland, California natives, Kenté and Shonda Scott, are a brother-sister duo and co-hosts of their popular podcast, “What Sibling Rivalry?” Shonda was the brainchild of the podcast, but only at the urging of friends and family, who knew the connection of these two siblings would breathe a unique perspective into the podcast digital space, not to mention diverse conversations from the male-female perspective. The podcast has served as a platform for them to talk about everything from current events to politics, along with interviewing special guests. But at the heart of the show is the up-close-and-personal look at their tight family dynamic, as they often reminisce on their upbringing within a household that was filled with a lot of love, faith and laughter. Before we go any further, let’s set the record straight. They are indeed brother and sister, but they are not biologically twins. Their parents fostered a closeness between them, encouraging them to be loving towards each other and each other’s playmates as kids, which has created an unbreakable bond between the two. Kenté joked, “Shonda was told if she was going out, You gotta take your brother with you and you better look out for him.” Shonda is the oldest, however, as they matured, Shonda “pulled rank” with each birthday and decided to erase the years between them until they became twins. This is just an example of the many funny moments they shared during our interview, as humor clearly runs in the family! The podcast is one of many “hats” they wear, as these
go-getters have excelled and succeeded in many areas of business and the entertainment world. Shonda has received many accolades, such as being an Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee in 2018; and in 2017, she was Enterprising Women Magazine's Woman of Year. Currently, Shonda is CEO and founder of 360 Total Concept, a management consulting firm with offices in California and Washington, DC. In addition, she hosts her own television show, Spotlight with Shonda, a community affairs talk show that features inspiring stories in the San Francisco Bay area. A few of the featured guests have included the city’s mayor, Ambassador Andrew Young, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Kenté is a writer, comedian, actor, and entrepreneur. Discovered at UCLA, he has appeared in films such as Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and Antoine Fisher, as well as performing in television commercials and stage plays. Kenté’s light shines bright as a successful comedian. He started doing stand-up at the world-famous Comedy Store in Hollywood, CA performing with such comic heavyweights as Katt Williams and Cedric the Entertainer. Kenté was blessed to co-headline a tour of U.S. Military bases in Japan, bringing his humor to the troops. When the city of Oakland hosted its 150th anniversary celebration, he was recognized as part of Oakland’s royalty in arts and entertainment. He received the Key to the City, along with comedian Mark Curry, MC Hammer, and En Vogue, to name a few. Together, these two UCLA alums formed Legacy Film & Entertainment, LLC., a film and television production company focused on development and creation of quality entertainment in the areas of reality television, family
dramas, comedies, and documentaries. One project that has been in development, which they hope to get off the ground sooner than later, is their sitcom television script featuring their family. “Back in the Nest” would chronicle the family’s hilarious shenanigans, ups and downs, and their unique way of navigating life. Shonda shared, “In the eighties, our home was often compared to the Huxtables on the “The Cosby Show” so much so, our mom was called “Claire,” (which was Phylicia Rashad’s character on the show.) Our house was really the house that everybody came to. We had a lot of events at our house but really, the family was always the core of everything.” Their parents were also successful entrepreneurs, owning one of the largest African American food service businesses in the United States. One could say that owning and running companies is part of this families’ DNA, as their great grandfather, who was the son of a slave, defied the odds and became a developer in Colorado. Their parents also enforced the importance of being involved in the community and political activism early in the siblings’ lives. As a youth, Shonda believed she would be president of the United States, but instead of that trajectory, she ended up helping to elect the first Black President of the United States, Barack Obama, and becoming his appointee to his presidential platform committee.
“We don’t know how not to be involved in politics,” Shonda remarked, “and being part of the election process was always part of our ecosystem growing up.” They were also raised in a Christian home. Church attendance was mandatory and today, both Shonda and Kenté are active in their respective churches, which is reflective of their ancestral roots. Their 102 year-old-grandmother, residing in Houston, Texas is a proud southern Baptist, who was still attending church (pre-COVID). They are firm believers that running a business and having a strong spiritual connection goes hand-in-hand. Kenté offered, “My whole career is a faith walk. Whatever it is you have – whatever your passion is, it is placed there by God. We started [the podcast] with two microphones in Shonda’s office. You have to give God the glory in the big things and the small things.” Their faith has certainly been there during pivotal moments in their lives. They are both single parents, with two successful adult children working in real estate and the entertainment industry. At one point or another, both parents have lived with Shonda and her son at the same time, which may have been difficult for the average person, but not with this family. There was never a dull moment, as the dynamic of having three generations under one roof provided a lot of great script material. With all the “twins” have accomplished to date, there is a lot
more on the horizon. They want to bring a different perspective to the podcast by interviewing other siblings to show how there can indeed be real sibling rivalry but at the end of the day, blood will always be thicker than water, as family will always have your back. They continue to strive to bring the importance of family values to light, especially to show younger audiences strong family ties still exist. As for their production company, Kenté noted, “We want to partner with others to bring our projects to life, but we also want to maintain creative control.” They really want to show the African American community in a positive light, which is something that is near and dear to both of their hearts. Their desire is for the company to follow the same model and success as Tyler Perry Studios. With these two at the helm as business partners, siblings, entertainers and trailblazers, we know they will have continued success. Check out “What Sibling Rivalry” Podcast on these media platforms: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and YouTube. www.whatsiblingrivalry.com
SHEKINAH GRIFFIN 19
Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief communiquĂŠ Magazine
Maria Tallchief America’s First Prima Ballerina A Woman of Two Worlds As November unfolds and Thanksgiving approaches, the importance of Native American culture cannot be underestimated. When celebrating the contributions of influential people with Native American roots, honoring America’s first prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief, is a must. She was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame and received a National Medal of the Arts. She also received a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievements. Born in 1925 on a tribal reservation in Fairfax Oklahoma, her mother was of Scottish Irish descent and father was an Osage native. She clearly remembers her father in her autobiography Maria Tallchief, America's Prima Ballerina. “My father, Alexander Joseph Tall Chief, was a full-blooded Osage Indian. Six foot two, he walked with a sturdy gait and loved to hunt. The story goes that he could stroll through the woods, rifle in hand, spot a quail or pheasant out of the corner of his eye, point the gun, and shoot the bird without breaking his stride. With his strong aquiline profile, Daddy resembled the Indian on the buffalohead nickel. Women found him handsome, and when I was young I idolized him”. When Maria’s father was just a boy oil was discovered on Osage land, and overnight the tribe became rich. As a young girl growing up on the Osage reservation, she realized her father owned the town, as he owned property everywhere. Later, after Marie’s love for dancing began to show promise, she and her younger sister Majorie moved with their parents to Beverly Hills, where the girls would have access to the best training. Although Marie’s mother had plans for Marie to become a concert pianist (she had perfect pitch) her passion for dancing became inescapable. She endured racism at the schools in Beverly Hills- her last name Tallchief, making her a clear target for cruel name calling and bullying, but her dancing always kept her focused. By the time Maria was 17, she was off to New York City, dancing professionally with the famed Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo. It was there she met who would become co-founder of the New York City Ballet, the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. By the time Maria was 21 she became Mr. Balanchine’s wife and muse (but their marriage was annulled several years later). WIth Balanchine’s mentorship, Maria Tallchief put American Ballet on the map, proving that Americans could not only master the art form but make it their own, and that ballet indeed was part of American culture. Soon it would become clear. Maria Tallchief had officially become America’s first prima ballerina. Although she was pressured many times to change her last name, she always refused. Her signature role, “Firebird” encapsulated her power as an artist. Adorned in the classic fiery red and orange costume, the red feather she wore on the top of her head reminded her of the same feather her grandfather wore. “It is an innate thing in the American Indian to want to move, to want to dance” she says. Osage Nation honored her with the title “Princess Wa-Xthe- Thomba”, “Woman of Two Worlds”. Writer Joey Lorraine Joey Lorraine is a dance artist and content creator who resides in New York City. www.joeylorraine.com
BLOOM IN THE DARK written by Apostle J.L. Cash
Psalm 127:2 - for he gives to his beloved even in his sleep Time is filled with swift transitions. Naught of earth unmoved can stand. Build your hopes on Things eternal. “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand.” These are the words of an old hymn written by Jennie Wilson that made its way into many Sunday morning church services. However, the transitions she wrote about and many of us sung about often come and bring about Very long nights and very short days and sometimes seemingly no days at all, just darkness. As you struggle to find your way through the darkness the fear of no more days and what may be lurking in the darkness attacks you with full force and your hope fights to break free and leave you all alone. This is the place I call The Self Penitentiary. In this place there is no release or parole that can be granted by anyone but you. Your mind can often become
four very strong walls that seem impossible to get past. How you think and what you think about yourself is what you get. This is when the LIGHTS OUT order pushes in the darkness. But DO NOT FEAR, God also works the night shift. The word bloom means to grow or develop successfully. To produce, to mature into the achievement of one’s potential. To flourish in excellence. Before I became an old boy I was a young man and I worked on a farm where we grew everything from food to eat to beautiful flowers. Did you know that there are at least ten flowers that ONLY bloom at night? The one I encountered is called The Evening Primrose Oenothera Biennis. This pretty and very fragrant flower only blooms at night. It’s no mystery that the darkness of night limits our vision, but the lack of vision often summons FAITH.
Faith is the very assurance of the things we hope for and the proof of what we do not see. The darkness you encounter from time to time often provokes you to a productive level of faith that causes you to bloom instead of wither away. It is in the still of night, in the darkness, while there’s no sun, no birds singing and no people walking by to admire it’s beauty that the evening primrose blooms. You may be in your dark night season now but instead of being afraid of the dark, prepare to bloom. Most of the first year of the evening primrose’s life, it’s nothing more than a 5 to 6 feet stalk. Not a beautiful flower. While going through the standing stalk period of your life can truly be hard and very discouraging, it is still a blessing. God is known for doing some of his best work, in the dark. Sometimes, the darkness is used to hide your true value until it’s appointed time. For a diamond to be at it’s best, the rough has to be removed. Your trouble, hardship and disappointments are sometimes what God cuts with to remove the rough. It is the cut of a diamond that determines it’s value. The diamond cutter takes a rough diamond and changes it into a shaped and beautiful Gem. The meaning of the word gem is a precious or semiprecious stone. A Gem is something that is absolutely great. Each gemstone is unique so the process of the cutting of a diamond must be undertaken by a professional with expert knowledge. We have heard for centuries about the grace of God. The free and unmerited favor of God. But here I am
asking you to look at another work of grace. The simple refinement of grace. God’s grace can and will refine you into the very best you were made to be. However, grace is usually proceeded by trouble, disappointment, heartbreak and other things that often help us to realize the absence of God’s favor. There are places in my own life that I would even describe grace as God’s anesthesia. The pain and the hurt that would have taken me out, his grace saw me through it. The loss of my Sister, My Mother, My Father, and even when I underwent relational amputation from other people I loved, grace covered me. Grace has been cleaving and sawing away what had to go for you to become a diamond. Grace is a professional Life Diamond cutter, and it is very precise. You are A GRACE CUT DIAMOND Prepare to live your AUTHENTIC life as the reconstruction of your identity blooms. We are often locked in on the image we want to show others of ourselves and we sometimes all together miss our true identity. It is then that the darkness surrounds us until we no longer see, we only believe. In that dark blind place, we bloom. View your dark moments in the light of your faith and bloom.
Gabriel Dutton REALTOR
BALTIMORE REAL PRODUCERS RISING STAR OCTOBER 2018 Keller Williams Metropolitan 4015 Foster Ave, Suite 300 Baltimore, MD 21224 Office 410-342-4444 | Fax 410-342-0873 Cell 443-756-4878 25
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland,
Gabriel Dutton attended The Boys Latin School of Maryland, and went on to study Finance at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Gabriel currently resides in the Patterson Park neighborhood with his wonderful wife and six year old son.
Gabriel currently serves as a buyer and seller specialist with Keller Williams Metropolitan, located in the Brewers Hill community. He says, “My passion for the city and its surrounding areas has led to partnerships with Live Baltimore, The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, and Keller Williams Agent Leadership Council. These valuable relationships allow me to remain the expert in an ever-evolving real estate industry. In addition to helping others buy and sell real estate I am also an investor who owns rental properties and has successfully completed many flip renovations”.
Gabriel’s belief and purpose is to help others achieve their real estate goals. Through exceptional service, integrity, and expert knowledge of the market he has been able to assist hundreds of buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals.
Contact Gabriel Dutton for your real estate needs. communiqué Magazine
Rhonda SPECIAL FEATURE
written by Corretta L. Doctor
Rhonda Morman is a humble spirit with divine guidance watching over her and ordering her steps. I sat down with Rhonda to talk about her life, then and now. She is an overcomer. She is disciplined. She is relentless. It is during these times of global unrest, political chaos and racial divide that we must learn to glean support from likeminded individuals that are experienced and triumphant in the ways of success, overcoming, and growth, both personally and professionally. Rhonda Morman describes this as a collaboration of faith. Imagine going from jovial, youthful, and spirited to wheelchair bound, borderline depressed, and totally suppressed…..at age seven. Rhonda played jump rope, just as many inner city children would be doing on a sunny summer day. She was playing with several children outside of her apartment building on 65th and Western in Los Angeles. There was a young woman in the lot, where Rhonda was playing, who was apparently having some relationship issues. Unfortunately, Rhonda was a victim of circumstance by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Two young men that had an apparent love triangle with the young lady began shooting, and Rhonda suffered multiple gunshot wounds, all while still jumping rope. What a tragedy! This innocent child became wheelchair bound. The doctors declared that she would never walk again. Never. When Rhonda was shot, she was shot on the left side of her right knee, then a second shot hit her on the right side of her right knee, which then blew out the front of her knee. There was a third gunshot but she was saved by her cousin Billy B. These two were ‘two peas in pod’ and would love to sing their favorite song, ‘You Don’t Have to Be a Star’ by Marilyn McCoo and Billy
Davis, Jr. Rhonda would use her broomstick and a brush as Microphones. Her knee was almost torn away from her leg. The doctors gave this child so many sad stories about her future and they gave her a prognosis filled with “can nots”. It does not mean she cannot do what others do, it just means she does it differently. Rhonda went on through the next few years of her life being told so many negative things, she became the coffee table conversation and that made her feel bad. The seven year old Rhonda said, “My vision became their legs”. “I was just a kid in a wheelchair. The family moved to a 2nd floor apartment on 27th and Van Buren on a cul de sac. As you entered the cul de sac, there was a big yellow sign that read ‘Dead End’. I could see it from our second floor patio, where kids gathered to play all day. My vision became their ‘legs’. I would just imagine that one day I would have another leg. It became the visual that I would see at the end of the day – I would go to bed dreaming of having a new leg and I would wake up wishing for a leg. Remember, I was seven years old and I was told I would always be handicapped. My life was not exposed to the good things that can happen to a kid in a wheelchair, such as Special Olympics, etcetera. In my mind, I was destined to a grim life. My trust died. My energy died”. Just like that Dead End. God will send you what, and who, you need in perfect timing. “One day, after several months, ‘Bible Club’, known as “World Impact Inc.” came knocking. The woman’s name was Mary N. and she looked like an angel out of the Bible. I was introduced to the story when God healed the lame, the blind….and my life changed at that moment. I was on the
second floor and like I said, I didn’t trust people to take me down. I trusted Bible Club. I remember my first church visit, at the Crenshaw Christian Center, Pastor Fred K. C. Price. I was taken all the way to the front… of course, I was in a wheelchair. I felt so exposed. Until he started speaking”. Fast forward a bit……one summer night, Rhonda got up to go to the bathroom, half asleep. After four years, many tears and a lot of praying, Rhonda was able to walk again. She made those steps, without her crutches. It was the first time in four long years that Rhonda was able to walk. Jeremiah 29:11. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “I eat it, I chew it. I live by it”.- Rhonda “I take it by the letter, yes each letter, never mind each word, each letter means something to me. I don’t want it to regurgitate so I chew on it slowly. I didn’t think the promises were for me. God said my promises are for you, but you took them away. You thought that because all of the bad that you did that you were alone, but you were never alone. I never left you.” Rhonda did not think her voice was being heard. “I just found my voice in quarantine. I used to think my voice didn’t matter. My voice had to be the voice I heard first to realize I had one. The more I spoke, the more unafraid I would speak. My voice is unscripted”. This time of pause and separation from the masses has given us time to grow, discover and renew our lives. Rhonda never thought she would be called to preach. She had many reasons to preach, but never thought it would be her calling. She says, “I have to be able to identify the ones that are walking in their truth because I have been them. I am still them. I start dancing like David when I think of Jeremiah 29:11. It makes me remember in the moment that I need remembrance, because the moment can overtake you. That text, that phone call, the entertainment industry, that family member or whatever, can be the moment to take you off your course.” “Characters and roles are suggestive, but the greatest role is ‘me’.”- Rhonda Life is a matter of obedience. Rhonda is in therapy. She is faithfully and consistently in therapy with God. “When God tells me to do something, I am going to do
it whether it feels good or not, whether it is in season or out of season or whether I like it or not, whether it hurts or not. I have had to go apologize and say forgive me. I no longer look at you, I have to look at me. I look at you so Godly that it didn’t even matter what you did to me. I have to look at how I behave. I was called on and challenged to preach. I was afraid to preach. A friend named Lisa S. saw something in me, so I agreed to do it. My Mother went with me and sat right in the front seat. After I finished preaching my Mother looked at me and said, with tears flowing, wow, I didn’t even see you as my daughter while you were preaching. I am a faithful tither, now. I have not always been, but I am now”. “Feeling full to me means, you take that feeling and you give it to someone else”. -Rhonda Her days always get a notch brighter when she receives that random text from her husband. Rhonda says her husband of 19 years, J. Maxim Fields, is her very best friend. He is the one that counted on her when others counted her out. They met and on the second day he told her she would be his wife. He was so unimaginably GREAT to Rhonda that she almost could not receive him. She could not immediately see the “goodness of this good man” in her husband because she was blinded by the “bad men of her past” syndrome. Those bad memories were blinding her, J. Maxim courted Rhonda. It was a cute, cat and mouse relationship and she loved it. But she was afraid of what real, true love looked like. It was unfamiliar to her. But here they are now, 19 years later, and it is oh-so-good. Rhonda and J. Maxim blended their family; his six children and her one son (who was ten years old when the couple married), plus Rhonda’s young nephew and her Mom all made life work. One day Rhonda’s son expressed his concern for his Mom’s heart: he said, “mom you were hurt before, so what’s stopping him from hurting you, too”? “All of the hard, rough things I have been through, I can be an impactor. I have never taken acting classes, but I know I make an impact on others”. -Rhonda See, before J. Maxim came into Rhonda’s life…she was in a broken and emotionally damaging relationship. Let’s take it back some years. She was cheated on, lied to, and made to look like a fool in her own home. “I used to drink and sing….you know, alcohol will make you think you can hit a note. I would drink to the Peabo Bryson song, ‘Can You Stop The Rain’, because I was so broken, and the song just pulled me through. I depended on alcohol so much that it took over my life. One morning, as I made my
son’s lunch, I mistakenly put alcohol instead of apple juice in his lunch container.” Her son realized that his mom had made a mistake, but he did not call her out on it. Instead, he poured it out and left the container by the sink and went on to school. The next day Rhonda went to make his lunch again. The drink container was sitting there by the sink and as she reached for it to wash it, she noticed the alcohol smell. She realized at that moment that the previous day she had made a horrible mistake. She saw an instant replay of how much the drinking was taking over her life, and now impacting her child. Can you think about the repercussions that would have occurred if her son would have taken the alcohol to school? It was in that awakening moment that Rhonda stopped drinking alcohol. Cold turkey. No more alcohol. Rhonda has a great amount of past pain but here is where she gets some of her recent understanding and strength to get through it. She is reading two books, one by Crawford W. Loritts, Jr. titled, ‘Unshaken, Real Faith in Our Faithful God’ and the other is ‘What’s True About Your: Life -Changing Reminders of Who God Says You Are’, by Holley Gerth. She is also writing. “There are questions in these books that help you rethink things and bring up history, which is great because history is part of your story. God was bringing up past things and past things are purposeful. We repurpose things in life all of the time. The whole thing of ‘repurpose’ is that you can use things again. I know that I have to identify with those that are going through things, or those who have. I see me when I walk in. I know what it means to sit in church, all covered up and still be broken. I know what Saturday nights look like and still be able to sit in church on Sunday. I know what it is like to sit right next to someone and steal out of their purse. I know it because I have lived it. You don’t know it because you are seeing me at my point right now. I have robbed, I have stolen, I’ve manipulate and I have been promiscuous and when I say I know it and I identify it, it is because God wants me to be sensitive to it… so sensitive to it that I know how to act and respond to it in others”. Rhonda is a networking fanatic because she wants to learn. She is curious about how overcomers made their way. She wants to know how they found their voices, how did they do it? She says, “There is a lot of ‘wow’ in this world. There are lessons in other people’s stories. It relieves some of the pressure from believing ‘the only me syndrome’. When we hear that other people share our pain, struggles, and trials then we can share in the testimony of overcoming. We are communiqué Magazine
all here for the betterment of someone else”. “The best part of life right now is that there is a manifestation that is taking place that is uncompromising. God gave me two words: wait and weight. Recognize the wait and the weight in your life”. -Rhonda I asked Rhonda, do you believe you can pour from an empty cup? Her response was clear, “Yes, I absolutely do. You still have the cup! And who says it is empty? It is about the eyes that are looking in.” Rhonda is a member of Abundant Family Living Church, under Pastor Diego Mesa, in Rancho Cucamonga, California. “Pastor Mesa preaches from a place of familiarity. I’m from the streets. They [fans, followers] don’t know that the ‘Crenshaw and Inglewood’ in me used to be really loud. In this period of quarantine, I am in confinement. It has
helped me find my voice and it put me back in the wheelchair, not literally, but figuratively”, says Rhonda. Rhonda is a familiar face on television, notably her role as Shelby Brown in BET's romantic comedy, ‘Angrily Ever After’, an Octet Production, on BET and BET Her. The show is directed by Terri J. Vaughn. Her latest project is the role of ‘Cash Money’ in the action/ suspense/thriller film released this summer, ‘The Runners’. The movie was written, codirected, and produced By Micah Lyons and Joey Loomis (co-directed); Starring Micah Lyons, Netty Leach, Joey Loomis, Jason Kennedy, Tom Sizemore, Neal McCoy and Glenn Morshower. “Life Beyond The Chair” is a one woman show, that is in development and will be presented by Rhonda about trials, tragedies, triumphs, and victories, while concluding that life was safer in the chair. "Let me reintroduce myself; My name is Rhonda Morman". Follow the Facebook Page @rhondamormanlifebeyondthechair and Instagram Page @liveyourlifebeyond Rhonda and her husband skipped the seeds and planted a tree into their own production company. “We want to be the lenders and not the borrowers. We are pitching ‘Lords of LA’, a TV series. We want to be able to hire people with talent even if they are not well known. We want hidden gems and the voiceless – we want to raise their voices. We want to come out of this quarantine greater.” Follow the Facebook and Instagram Page @lordsoflaseries Stay encouraged and be of service to others in your quest to become great. Show up, like Mary showed up for young Rhonda. Be present and relevant, like the village of supporters in Rhonda’s toughest days. Be authentic, genuine, loving, and an accountability partner like J. Maxim, Rhonda’s big faith and loving husband. Be forever a cheering squad like her son and those that call upon her as Mom. Rhonda is transparent because she is a testimony that many can relate to. Contrary to belief, many young children have a similar story, but no one has the exact story. Our hope is that all readers will be led to find their peace and their place in this world and as Rhonda says, know the difference in your ‘wait’ and your ‘weight’.
I Will Play for Nigeria One Day - NOBLE BARIYIMA written by BARIDIDUM LEEMA It is the dream of every player plying their trade in local league clubs in Nigeria to play professional soccer in Europe. This dream and desire is driven by their quest to seek for greener pasture and gain international prominence in world soccer. This they believe would help them to get the attention of national team handlers and play in the senior national team which is the super eagles one day. This is because playing in the local league in Nigeria limits the chances of the player to get a call up to the national team. Local league players are being neglected to the background by managers of the national team who prefer to invite players playing their trade in Europe, irrespective of the league and club where he laces his boots with the notion that the players at the home front are not good enough. Secondly, the present handler of the Super eagles Gernor Rohr had on several occasion asserted that the Nigeria domestic soccer league is sub-standard when compared to top leagues in Europe and therefore shows so much apathy to the local league. This apathy and neglect demonstrated towards the local league could be mirrored in the list of players Rohr occasionally calls up to the eagles to prosecute matches for Nigeria. Local players hardly make the cut to represent Nigeria at international tournaments. However, despite the challenges and hurdles facing local league players in Nigeria, there are players who are still very optimistic of actualizing their dream of playing in the national team. One of such is Nigeria goalkeeper, Noble John Bariyima, who lace his boots for Enyimba Fc of Aba, a Nigeria professional local league club based in the south east region of the country. Noble Bariyima whose football
career started at a grassroots club known as TORO SPORT ACADEMY says it is his dream to play for Nigeria national team one day. The 22 year old Nigeria shot stopper says he is confident his club’s campaign, Enyimba in the CAF champions league would offer him a great opportunity to excel and get the attention of national team handlers. To be honest with the optimism expressed by Noble Bariyima’s , Enyima FC is the only Nigeria local league club that have won the CAF champions league back to back in 2003 and 2004 years, respectively. The CAF champions league is the biggest club soccer competition on the continent of Africa competed by African clubs that came tops in the domestic league of their various countries. And the former Gokana united goalie is of the view that Enyimba’s campaign in the tournament will serve as a breeding ground for him to explode to stardom. According to Bariyima, Enyimba is the best professional football communiqué Magazine
club in Nigeria. “They have played on the continent on several occasion and my intention is to help them win the champions league and two league titles. If I can achieve this with them, I know for sure I will get the attention of the national team handlers and scouts from Europe,” he said. Perhaps Noble Bariyima, an indigene of the Oil rich Ogoniland in the Niger Delta and South-south region of Nigeria will be drawing inspiration from the exploits of former International Vincent Enyeama who helped Enyimba Fc of Aba to win the CAF champions league back to back in 2003 and 2004. Vincent Enyeama, a former super eagles goalkeeper was a member of the victorious Enyimba squad that made history in the aforementioned years by becoming the first Nigeria professional local league club to win the prestigious trophy. The former Lille of France goalie was instrumental in the conquest of the Nigeria club on the continent and his heroics saves in the competition (CAF champions league) earned him a place in the super eagles. Though Enyeama may have made his world cup debut for Nigeria at the 2002 edition co-hosted by south Korea and Japan where he made some brilliant saves in the last group match against England, but his sterling performance in the Champions league further sealed his place in the national team. So, for Noble Bariyima, Enyeama is a role model who has already blazed the trail and the success of the former Super eagles captain (Enyeama) should serve as a motivating factor for him to achieve his dream of playing in the national team. Interestingly, Bariyima is a great talent who became the toast of Togolese soccer fans while playing for ASCK Kara of Togo, a top local league club in the west African country. His brilliant performance for the club earned him the best goalkeeper award in Togo in 2018. He was also an integral part of the club success in the Togolese local league and FA cup in the year (2018) under review. This achievement became a talking point in Nigeria and the young Lad was a rave of the moment in the light of the goal keeping crisis
in the super eagles that year. In fact, eggheads of the Nigeria football federation were beginning to contact him with the view of giving him a chance to prove his worth in the national team. Some argued that shot stopper will solve Nigeria goal keeping problems following the poor performance posted by Super eagles goal keepers at the last nations cup held in south African, particularly Daniel Akpeye, who many believe cost Nigeria the match against Algeria in the semifinal. Only for ASCK KARA of TOGO to get booted out of the CAF champions league by Rangers FC of Enugu, another Nigeria professional local league club. The exit of the Togolese club from the biggest club soccer competition in Africa slowly silenced the hype and attention he was beginning to receive back home in Nigeria. But he caught the attention of a Cameroonian local club panthere Sportive where he played few matches before the outbreak of COVID 19 global pandemic which crippled all the sporting calendar in the world. Having signed a three deal for the peoples elephant as current club Enyimba is fondly called by ardent fans and supporters based in Aba, Abia state, Noble Bariyima will be looking forward to asserting himself as the best goalkeeper in Nigeria when the new football season gets under way. The league has been on recess since the outbreak of the COVID 19 and Enyimba fc who are Nigeria’s campaigners in the African champions league are yet to resume training due to the ban imposed on contact sports owing to the corona virus. This some pundits say will affect the chances of the team( Enyimba) at the champions league as some few counties in Africa has started their football or soccer leagues to put their continental campaigners in shape. Hence it thus appear Noble Bariyima and his teammates at Enyimba are going to be match rusty if the Nigeria local league do not start before the commencement of the CAF champions league. But the dogged and resilient Bariyima says he and his teammates will take the bull by the horn to fly in the tournament. Mr. Leema is a sports writer from Nigeria, Africa. He can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrity’s Soul Food CEO
written by Paula Bernette Brooks
simply Dr. J’s passion to help people evolve and grow. He also has a burning desire to leave the world a little better then he found it!
It took approximately thirty seconds to realize that Dr. Fredrick Jacobs is truly a force of nature! The chef, entrepreneur, therapist, pastor, radio personality and philanthropist is as dynamic as a hurricane and as assertive as a tornado! When talking about his latest venture, Celebrity’s Soul Food restaurants, his words and ideas flow like a tsunami! When he stops to take a breath, his brilliant smile is friendly and engaging. “Dr. J” as he is affectionately called, is clearly passionate about everything he’s involved in, and you can believe that covers a lot of territory! It’s easy to see that with PhD’s in Theology and Counseling, Dr. J believes strongly in the value of education. Most importantly, he explained that his parents raised him to have unwavering faith in God and to adhere to family values. His many endeavors are clearly interwoven and connected by a single thread. That thread is
Dr. J vividly described growing up in High Springs, Florida. He was in love with, and in awe of, his mother’s and grandmother’s down home cooking! On many days he could be found in the kitchen with them, instead of outside playing. As Dr. J reminisced about his first experience with “Soul Food,” a dreamy expression crossed his face, and he said passionately, “I can remember laying in the living room when I was growing up. My grandmother was cooking in the kitchen on a wood stove. The delicious aroma of her cooking was calling me! It actually woke me up! It reminds me of a rainy day when I wanted to go out to play, but couldn’t go outside. All of a sudden the sun came back out! That’s what Soul Food is to me! That’s what it brings you. It’s not just that people want to eat. Soul Food makes you feel good! It brings back
memories. Mama’s gone, but you still feel her because you cooked together, ate together and fellowshipped together. It was good food that brought our families together!” Dr. J continued his education and successfully managed a mental health facility, before relocating to Los Angeles. He went on to open his own therapy practice and also hosts “Dr. J the Counselor,” a popular radio show on Stevie Wonder’s radio station, KJLH 102.3 FM. He uses the platform to counsel couples and dispense relationship advice. He also became a pastor, transforming lives by teaching God’s word. However, Dr. J found that he was still very much interested in food. Especially the way the table could be used as a setting for people to come together, fellowship and even iron out their differences. So he invested in learning all he could about Soul Food and the restaurant business. “I traveled all around the world, to study under grandmothers, great grandmothers and great chefs! I opened my first restaurant with only $16,000 to my name! I had to show proof of concept. I took Soul Food to Lake Forrest California, where Soul Food had never been. They told me it wouldn’t work, but let me tell you, it did better than we expected. Dr. J continued enthusiastically, “Then I was asked if Soul Food could make it in a small town where people could afford a higher ticket. So I went to a smaller town and did it for a year. The restaurant was probably 1500 square feet. We were selling coffees, gumbo, shrimp and grits and high end dishes of that nature. You know what? That restaurant exceeded our financial projections! Then I decided to try a college town to see if that would work. I opened my next restaurant in Gainesville Florida, near the University of Florida, home of the Gators. Not only did I cater to them and promote ‘Soulful Sundays,’ we also elevated the elements of the restaurant and put in a nice atmosphere that judges, attorneys, students and everyday people could enjoy! Once again we were pleasantly surprised at the outcome!” Dr. J reflected thoughtfully, “The next question I asked myself
was ok, how do I come out of the kitchen, out of the business and sell this concept? Not too long ago we partnered with United Franchise Group out of West Palm Beach. They are the leading franchise group in the world with over 1600 locations in 80 countries! We have a full training system and center of executives and IT for marketing, accounting and production. We deal with all of that and make sure that the systems and vendor relationships stay in place.” Dr. J was clearly excited as he talked about the 200 store rollout now underway. “We currently have 40 stores that are in development across the United States! Many are coming online by the end of December, and a large cluster of them will open the first quarter of next year. We’re selling daily and we’re located all the way from Florida, to Utah, to Atlanta. We just sold Las Vegas, New Mexico, California and Tennessee! I’m just thankful because we’re taking Soul Food not only where people understand it and know about it, but also to places where it is not known!” With so many well established restaurants closing their doors or laying off workers due to the pandemic, it was only natural to wonder how Celebrity’s Soul Food franchises would stay afloat. Dr. J’s answer was multi-pronged. First and foremost he stressed that the parent corporation supports their businesses in every way. From helping them find prime real estate and negotiate a reasonable price, to providing food vendors at below market rates. Secondly, Dr. J. stated that he only recruits business people who have had experience in the industry and who are truly passionate about owning their own restaurant. He also explained that the restaurant industry has to become innovative and use technology wisely, in addition to serving meals that are consistently tasty and flavorful. Celebrity’s Soul Food is the first to use Artificial Intelligence, or robot servers! Their purpose is not to replace the waiter or waitress, but to assist them and make their job easier. Another key component of Dr. J’s formula for success is to provide delicious meals at an affordable price! His pork free
restaurants will feature the expected oxtails, fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, as well as vegetarian dishes. He exclaimed with pride, “Our food is absolutely not just traditional Soul Food. As a matter of fact, we created our own lane and our own space! We are neither fine dining nor fast food casual. We are what’s called “Quality Casual! What we’re doing is giving people a fine dining experience at a fast casual price! We want to be the Chick-Fil-A of Soul Food! I want to pay homage to the amazing meals created by our grandmothers and forefathers! I want to provide a space where people can come together whether looking for authentic Soul Food recipes, or plant based and vegan options.” Dr. J noted that one of his most popular dishes is his 24 carat chicken wings, actually marinated in edible 24 carat gold! Dr. J beamed as he stated, “So our restaurants believe in the concept of one world, and what I like about the cuisine is the diversity of people it attracts. People from all walks of life can come and enjoy each other in peace and unity! They may not agree on all other topics, but they can enjoy the food and the fellowship and that’s what our Soul Food is about! It’s much more than just the flavor! He also believes that giving back to the community is a must! He doesn’t tell his franchises how they have to give back, only that they must! Dr. J believes that no business should simply take from the community without giving something back in return. When asked how in the world he manages so many different projects successfully, Dr. J stated unequivocally that he could never
make it without the love, care and support of his wife, Taja Jacobs, known affectionately as “Lady J!” Lady J is also a Minister and Chief Sustainability Officer of Celebrity’s Soul Food Management Company. The husband and wife team are evenly yoked partners in all their ventures, including parenting two children that the doctor told her she would never be able to have! Dr. J revealed that they met in seminary school when he was 27 years old. At the time, he was selling insurance and Lady J became his appointment setter. He stated that he realized she was the one for him, when she continued to set appointments for him from her hospital bed. Lady J. stated with gratitude, “Dr. J and I have something super special that only God could have established. He had me at the word ‘Hello!’ Our entire journey is rich with seeing the hand of God. We are a unique family that has evident fruit of our love for God and our love for each other!” May God continue to bless the New Managers of Soul Food, Dr. Fredrick Jacobs and Lady Taja Jacobs, as well as all the franchise owners investing in their dreams! Can’t wait to experience the ambiance and delicious cuisine at a Celebrity’s Soul Food Restaurant, part of The Fastest Growing Soul Food Chain in America! You can stay informed in any of the several ways that follow: email@example.com; www.celebrityssoulfood. com; www.drjthecounselor.com; Celebrity’s Soul Food Management Co.352-505-9334
What Becomes of the
My Incredible Journey from Brokenness to Wholeness written by Thressa Dorsey Life has a way of dealing us an unexpected blow, sending us spiraling downward into a pit of despair and hopelessness. It can cause us to feel like we are never going to recover or be restored. This is what I felt like over seven years ago following the unexpected death of my 29-year-old son. His untimely passing left me broken, defeated, and discouraged. It was as though I was walking around in a dense, gray fog with no possibility of sunshine. There were moments when I wanted to end it all because of the weight of the sadness. Joy and laughter escaped my vocabulary and memory. Regardless of how hard I tried, the depth of my being was depleted and devoid of responding jovially to funny situations. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, but there were times the ceiling was brass when I attempted to pray. My faith was hanging on by a thread that seemed to be slowly breaking and coming undone. I knew I had to keep going to move beyond my broken heart and spirit of heaviness. This experience was a definite test of 41
what I proclaimed to believe and to live. Was I going to stay the course to get to wholeness or wimp out and throw in the towel? It was tough, but I had to keep going to get through to the other side. Despite all that I was dealing with, I knew my healing was on the other side. One of the things that kept me moving forward was music. Anyone who knows me and knows we well will tell you that I love many genres of music. I don’t listen to Gospel music all day and night. I listen to what I want to at the appropriate time. Give me Jazz, Neo-Soul, R&B, Pop, Hip Hop (clean), Soft Rock, Instrumental, and even some Country music with the right message. It is said that music soothes the savage beast. Well, my beast was grief and it needed to be put in its place. I love old school music, especially from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The messages were pretty much about the same thing: love found, love misunderstood, love lost, healing, and finding love again. No matter what happened, the key to love was to lose it and find it again. The late Jimmy Ruffin sang the song, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” I would discover the answer after February 14th, 2013. What happened on this day will live with me forever and help me to appreciate every day I am here on this earth. Just a mere 49 minutes after midnight, as the day turned to February 15th, my oldest child and son was pronounced dead. No warning, no preparation, and no final goodbye. My son was gone in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. The moment I heard the doctor say they had done all they could do, my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. I now had the first-hand experience of what it truly meant to have a broken heart. There is no mistake, no exaggerating, and no denying what I felt happen inside my chest on that night: a horrible, crushing, and unrelenting pain in my heart.
As I processed the words the doctor said, I began to look around and think he could not possibly be talking to me. I needed someone to help me make sense of what had just happened. Earlier in the evening, I sent my husband home to get some rest. We planned for him to return the next day to sit with our son in hopes he would fully recover from pneumonia. This was not supposed to happen. My son was going to be moved to another hospital to give him access to a different treatment plan. He was going to get better and, once he was strong enough, he was coming home with us. We thought the worse was over, but this was now our new reality. To experience the loss of a child is earth-shattering, devastating, overwhelming, and, yes, heartbreaking! I could not breathe; I was numb and it felt like I was having an out of body experience. I was drained and could hardly move. It felt as though I was having a nightmare although I was wide awake. Each day felt like an eternity and nothing made sense. As family and friends came in and out of our house, my head was spinning. There's not much I remember. One thing that stays with me is the constant nagging pain in my heart. There were moments when it felt like I was dragging it across the floor and it took everything in me to pick it up and put it back into its place. As the days turned into weeks, I remember not being able to withstand daylight. Although I wear glasses, there were moments when I would take them off to clean them because the lenses seemed as though there was a dark cloud covering them. My heart felt like broken glass. Sharp pointy shards were pressing into my chest and then a piece would drop off and roll around in my body causing more pain and discomfort. Each day my prayer to God was to let communiqué Magazine
me feel a little better since I was still numb. There were times when I would just lay on the floor of our home to feel the hardwood underneath me to know I was still alive. There were days when I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up because the constant ache in my heart was unbearable, but God would not let me go. I would stare into the unknown, looking for a glimmer of light, and try to take a deep breath but it hurt too much. Yet, I could not answer Jimmy Ruffin’s question, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted? There had to be some way to get through this, over this, and around this. I was open to anything that would get rid of my pain and sorrow. As I journeyed through the grieving process−seeing a grief counselor, talking things through with close family, friends, and my Pastor−I slowly began to regain parts of myself. It took about two and a half years before the feeling began to fully return to my body. The dark cloud hanging over me and through my eyes began to lift. Unexpectedly, without provocation, I laughed out loud about something and it felt good. Then it clicked: I did not have the stabbing pain in my chest where my heart was. I no longer felt the loose pieces of what felt like glass breaking off and wandering into random parts of my being. That was a turning point for me because I began to feel life bubbling up on the inside. I could laugh deeply and not feel guilty. I smiled without having to force myself to do it for appearance’s sake. I could have a conversation and not have my mind wander off in the middle because there was an unexplainable trigger that would have me weeping or end with tears streaming down my face. Over two and a half years, my broken heart began to slowly and deliberately mend itself in small ways without me even realizing it. So, this is what becomes 43
of the brokenhearted: they begin to heal−little by little, moment by moment, and step by step. If you find yourself with a broken heart, do not throw in the towel and give up. It is painstaking work and there will be times you just want something to eliminate the pain, yet that doesn't always happen immediately. Life has a way of leading us to our healing when we least expect it. It’s not predictable and often can’t be traced; it just happens one day. Grief is a process and one that is lifelong. There will be sleepless nights and long days at times, but the key is to keep moving in the direction of the light and healing. Don’t let anyone rush you or tell you that you should be over the loss by now. This is your process, not theirs. The scriptures tell us that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. What it doesn’t tell us is how long the night will last. It’s our perseverance that coaches us and brings us out safely on the other side. Wholeness is possible following brokenness. I had to submit and admit that I was broken and needed to be made whole again. But I had to allow God to use the method He thought was best for me. I began to heal when I helped others with their healing. As I shared my story and my experience, release along with relief came. I could speak about my son without falling to pieces. At times, I even managed to be joyful when I spoke of him. My wholeness came when it was supposed to and not when I wanted it to. Although I would not wish this experience on anyone, I’m grateful that I made it through and continue to thrive while I survive.
A Look atVeteran’s Day
From the Eyes of a Military Spouse
written by E.W. Brooks Being a military spouse is an undertaking no one could have prepared me for, beginning with understanding why everyone stopped moving at 5 pm and turned to salute a flag they couldn’t see for the playing of retreat and 50 other anomalies so different from those in the civilian world. However, becoming wife to a service member gave me a new respect for the flag itself and what it means to my husband, my sister who also actively serve, have served, and their friends. It is a badge of honor for all of those we know who have given limb, time, and peace of mind in their fight to secure freedom for all. Over time, I learned to embrace this subculture as one that empowered and pushed our family to succeed despite the circumstances of world around it. It opened my eyes to the business opportunities available to women, minorities, and veterans via its many programs that encouraged us to open small businesses as our life partners served and one that provided a number of the same opportunities for servicemembers once they separated from service. I’ve attended classes with the Small Business Association that laid out the ins and outs of how to open a limited liability company and helped us to establish our own, all courtesy of this military family. I’ve achieved a free associate degree and multiple trainings as well that helped push me forward as a businesswoman.
This month, I join millions of others as they pay homage to our veterans. Not only did they pave the way for America’s freedom, their sacrifices created a pathway for me as an affiliate to better my life and that of my family. Their selfless service has been a benefit to me and thousands of others who have taken advantage of the benefits this subculture of society offers us.
The challenges, on the other hand, have been my own. Flying half-way across the world to defend my brand taught me the importance of putting business first. It taught me that the lessons the military provided me were not for naught. I won my case and fortified my brand partly due to the training I received from the benefits being a military spouse has afforded me.
Watching my husband put on his uniform and securing his American flag patch on his shoulder each morning gives me a renewed hope in our country and the greatness it can achieve because of people like us. People who are determined to see our families and communities prosper because we know what it means to give of ourselves for our nation. This daily action means that we also acknowledge our fallen soldiers, gone, in the fight for an equal America but it also gives a feeling of honor and duty to those who work daily to defend it and our freedoms. Happy Veteran’s Day to All who Serve and Have Served.
A Black British
Month written by Helen Debrah-Ampofo Last month (October) marked Black History Month in the UK. But interestingly enough, if we are taught any Black History in school, it is Black American History rather than Black British History. Regardless of where we originate from in Africa or the Caribbean, we are taught that our history started with slavery. I understand that slavery is a huge part of our collective Black past, but it is not something all of our ancestors actually experienced. Moreover, our history began way before some of our people were kidnapped, enslaved, and oppressed. All Black people everywhere should be educated about the maltreatment of African people especially in America, but when taught in the UK, the distinction needs to be made that this happened on foreign soil. What about the brutalities which occurred on our own shores? We know full well that the UK is not innocent and we all have a right to know the details, no matter how inhumane. The British need to stop passing the buck to Americans as if they have been passive in all this. There have been Black British people littered communiquĂŠ Magazine
throughout history but the concept of Black Britons
the world. And no matter where we’re originally from
came after the mass migration of the Windrush
or how old we are, we all have horrible hair stories
Generation in 1948. Black people from the Caribbean
to tell. Unfortunately, we are all too accustomed with
Commonwealth countries such as Jamaica and
the smell of relaxers and have had our ears burned on
Trinidad and Tobago travelled to England to help fill
the hot comb.
post-war labour shortages. They were treated like animals as I’m sure you can imagine and with the
The natural hair movement has meant that many of
recent Windrush Scandal of 2018, let’s just say very
us have ‘returned natural’ but have found that it has
little has changed.
not been as easy out here than it would have been back home. It is difficult to maintain afro hair without
Fast forward to our contemporary society, the Black
the products and networks we would have available
British population are growing, making waves
to us in our home countries. AfroHairUAE acts as
throughout society and are leaving blueprints for
a directory for Black hair services in the region
future generations. We are creating Black British
alongside the supportive community needed for
History as we speak and documenting every bit of it.
healthy hair growth.
As a Black British expat in Abu Dhabi, I have had
Whilst we can all recount the struggles we’ve had
the privilege of meeting many Black women through
with our tresses as part of our history, we are now
the AfroHair UAE community I created. At our last
providing opportunities to create beautiful memories
physical event in February, I was shocked to meet
around our locks, even though they may have
so many Black British expats at our AfroBrunch – I
particles of sand in them! We are giving each other
didn’t realise there were so many of us here! I love
hair advice and sharing recommendations on what
the fact that we are repeating Black British History by
products to use and where best to go. We’re creating
choosing to settle in another country like many of our
business which cater to us and promoting and buying
parents did before us. Like the Windrush Generation
from each other. We are thriving in the desert; this is
and mass migration of Africans in Britain years prior,
not just our history but our legacy.
we are supporting and serving each other in much the same way right here in the Middle East. Whilst we may not have a Notting Hill Carnival to celebrate our Blackness, we do have brunch! Social Media has made us increasingly aware that wherever we were born in the world, the Black experience is a shared experience. Asides from meeting Black British women in the UAE, I’ve come into contact with many Black women from all over
: h t i m S n i b o R . r D Reintroducing
All Things FEARLESS
“I not only survived what seemed like hell I extracted myself in a way that seems almost impossible.”- Dr. Robin Smith written by Corretta L. Doctor Coming to terms with change can be a matter of survival. Dr. Robin says that the story and narrative that we all know about her is incomplete, and to leave the world with that image of her as the picture perfect therapist we all came to love through our television screens would be a disservice in its entirety. Dr. Robin is a licensed Psychologist and ordained minister with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, who has worked with Fortune 100 and 500 companies, sports and entertainment professionals to offer conflict management, diversity and inclusion training, executive performance coaching and more. Among the long list of television shows and media outlets that she has appeared on, one that many will surely remember is her tenure as Therapist-in-Residence on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Dr. Robin experienced multiple adversities and significant hardships that many of us would have allowed to pitch us into the pits of depression with no return to normalcy. She was involved in two very serious automobile accidents, one in 2010 and another in 2016 that could have taken her life…. and her joy. Two months after the 2010 accident. Her fur baby died, and one month later, her home was burglarized. As a result of both accidents, Dr. Robin faced three major hurdles: physical challenges that turned into financial challenges and emotional challenges. Dr. Robin had to pull resources when there were none. She was a caregiver to her 49
98 year old mother who lived just 12 minutes away ,who died in May 2020. Her father died over 30 years ago, and as the primary caregiver, Dr. Robin was the answer to her mother’s every need. Responsibility was a part of what was terrifying to Dr. Robin. She had to turn water to wine and make lemonade out of lemons. Times became hard because she could not work. Her injuries were hindering her entire life, it was not good. Dr. Robin’s “today story” is one of resilience and survivability, “I survived, and my life is rich with joy and health”, she shares. “What rescued me can also rescue them. There is no supernatural power to my healing.” Dr. Robin is a selfless giver of conscious care and empathy for others. She made it clear that she did not survive just so her life could be happy, she survived so that she could show others how to survive. Dr. Robin is now clear about who she is. “Self-love is the foundation of all inner transformations. Nothing can be at war, and win, against a person that can turn themselves into themselves. Turning ourselves into ourselves and becoming our true Self is the ingredient. What we cannot live without is the true Self that turned itself into Self. The stranger finds itself and becomes its own best friend …. that is the journey”. Dr. Robin teaches us that we have to be ‘partnered with our ‘Self’. She described her feeling of being ‘sat down’ from doing the things she liked to do, such as swimming and running. She was terrified to wonder if her body would return to the physical condition it was in before the two accidents. In 2010 she had physical challenges, but in 2016
she suffered a concussion that required major interventions. Her brain processed data differently. She could not watch a tennis match because the movement of the tennis ball going from side to side made her nauseous. She struggled driving in the rain because the back and forth movement of the windshield wipers caused her severe nausea. The things that she once did, without a second thought, became hurdles to her everyday life. One of the biggest hurdles was helping those around her, or those closest to her, understand the new deficit in her life. Getting them to understand just how much her body was suffering after the traumatic brain injury was not an easy task. Dr. Robin, renowned Therapist, needed to sit on both sides of the couch. Her own advice had to help her heal. Dr. Robin is a trauma surgeon for the heart and soul. Having experienced a life layered in success, only to be riddled by back to back physical and emotional hurt, and to survive it all, has led Dr. Robin to specialize in fearless living. “Therapy means different things to different people. We have to figure out how to be fearless in all things. As a performance coach I help others give birth to their truest self. I help people not shy away from the blood that comes with life. I help people overhear the conversations that they have been having with themselves, the ones that they are afraid to hear. I help them to begin to safely hear those conversations.” Dr. Robin is more than a glimmer of hope, she is the entire light that will help bring you through. Dr. Robin’s parents were both in roles of service to others. Her Mother served as a Psychiatric Social Worker and her Father as a Physician, Minister, and Civil Rights Leader. Dr. Robin has siblings that are communiqué Magazine
twins. She makes her home in Pennsylvania. Joy is prevalent in her life because of the wonderful, sweet connections she has with people. Peace surrounds her when she is out in nature, which she describes as the natural church. She enjoys walking in the woods by streams and commits to always having a place to call home in the rural space of her birthplace, Philadelphia. As we approach the holidays, Dr. Robin shares her favorite culinary dish with us! “I have a relationship with food. I love to cook! I was vegan but after my concussion I returned to seafood, mostly mild fish. My favorite meal is salmon stuffed with homemade cornbread stuffing made with apples, onions, and nuts.” Yum! I wanted to stop the interview and get the recipe, but as we continued, Dr. Robin caught my attention again with her idea of a really good meal. “On an easy day, I go to the market to get fresh food and I cook a good meal to eat at home with people that I love and people that love me. I love fresh collard greens, black-eyed peas, and I really like
making fresh salads with berries and homemade dressings.” I think it is safe to say that the interview had to end here as Dr. Robin filled my mind with wonderful menu ideas that all sound refreshing and wholesome. I became hungry! A story of resilience is common but nothing about Dr. Robin is common. She is an uncommon soul that shares her road to wellness with all that come in contact with her and she does so in an attempt to save people from unnecessary emotional pain. Life is worth living, and it is worth learning how to live with the life you have been given. Dr. Robin is a therapist that has the experience from both sides of the couch, and we applaud her for standing firm in her belief that ‘self’ matters and life, no matter how tough it can get, is worth living. Dr. Robin is an Author, Speaker, Coach, Therapist, Ordained Minister, and downright good friend. Learn more and connect with Dr. Robin at www.drrobinsmith.com
JackieSiegel THE QUEEN OF
written by Corretta L. Doctor Jackie Siegel is a woman that knows all too well the joys, and unfortunately some of the pain, that life can bring your way. Jackie, born Jacqueline Mallery, was raised in Endwell, New York and graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering. Jackie, wife of Westgate Resorts owner David Siegel, has an extravagant life that pairs with the upper echelon elite socialites of our world. Yet, none of the royals, riches, and return on investments could prepare her for the earth shattering sudden death of her firstborn child, her beloved Victoria “Rikki” Siegel, who was the oldest of Jackie and David’s eight children. Rikki was addicted to Xanax Bars. According to paxhouserecovery.com, Xanax Bars are “typically prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication, Xanax is the most widely prescribed of all benzodiazepines as a method to alleviate anxiety and treat panic
disorders. Unfortunately, it has also become one of the most abused recreational drugs on the market, infiltrating homes and communities with little regard to race, age, gender, creed or color.” After 18 short years in this world, Rikki died on June 16, 2015 from an overdose. Jackie tells us what the devastating loss of her daughter looks and feels like. “Why me?” asks Jackie. “The first year was the hardest. I felt secluded. You feel like you are the only one in the world. However, when drugs are involved, parents cannot blame themselves. We took Rikki to rehab, we did everything to help her.” Jackie shares that her daughter was at a friend’s house and sent her a text message that gave information on where to find her diary. The diary revealed the thoughts and artistic commentary about Jackie’s daughter’s life experiences that also included drug use. The Siegel’s later published Rikki’s diary into an authentically
revealing book titled, ‘Victoria’s Voice’. David, from a quote on the Victoria Siegel Foundation’s website says, “Our tragic, unimaginable loss has inspired my complete devotion to shining a bright light on a dark issue that has crippled our nation. Through our Victoria’s Voice Foundation, my family is bringing this matter to the national stage, championing specific ways we can reduce drug experimentation, addiction and overdose - we will change the reality of drug addiction in our country”. Distinct and unforgettable memories of Victoria ‘Rikki’ Siegel’s life offers a positive aura throughout the Siegel’s home. After five years, Rikki’s bedroom is purposefully untouched, the family does not allow anyone in her room. Rikki was an artist and loved to paint. Several pieces of her artwork can be found placed on the walls of the home. There is one piece of artwork that is Jackie’s favorite: the ‘Buddha’, drawn by Rikki. At communiqué Magazine
the top of the main stairwell, there No one can is a huge portrait of Rikki made by a escape the effects of COVID-19. We professional artist. either know someone that caught and survived the virus, died from The siblings of Rikki are coping. the virus, or we know someone that Nothing ever prepares a child for knows someone that had a direct the loss of their childhood sibling. impact of the residual impacts, No plans, distractions, good laughs, such as financial and job loss, great times, or anything can erase health disparity, or down-spiraling the pain. However, the family paints emotional well-being and mental together, they remain very active health issues. The Siegel’s, who with a variety of hobbies, and they have a family of 13 living under one share a love for animals. Foremost roof in their multi-thousand square in the Siegel’s thoughts is the fact foot home, also employs just under that grief is managed differently by a dozen staff members. With this everyone there is no play book or challenge of living and working rule guide. While dealing with their in close quarters there is a strict own levels of hurt, anger, and grief requirement for weekly COVID-19 Jackie and David are consistently testing at their estate. Jackie, who is a working towards achieving a sense of socialite, model, actress, and beauty normalcy again for their family. They pageant director is one of the main are busy with the family’s efforts to subjects of the 2012 documentary, send a strong message of hope to ‘The Queen of Versailles’. She was youth regardless of income status also featured in an episode of ABC’s about the importance of getting high Celebrity Wife Swap in June 2015. on life, not on drugs. Jackie says, “COVID-19 helped me realize that being natural is OK. I
have had to switch to in-home nail care and hair maintenance.” The family remained on quarantine until Jackie’s first outing on August 26th. She traveled with her staff to the Siegel’s Westgate property in Las Vegas, Nevada for the big launch of her programs, ‘Social Media for Good’ and the ‘Truth Not Talk’ video challenge. communiqué Magazine had the honor of attending the events and we attended the unveiling of the luxury transport bus that will be used for a cross country, multi-city tour with the social media influencers promoting the cause to end opioid abuse and increase awareness of the dangers of the drug addiction. Jackie is a very beautiful person, inside and out. She is a true down to earth woman with one simple mission: to help other families avoid losing a loved one to a drug overdose. Her strongest message of hope to families is, “Reach out and do not keep it a secret. Talk to a church or
THE QUEEN OF
anyone that you can get help from. Let people know how bad it is.” To ensure the message of “hope” reaches the masses, Jackie acquired the services of social influencers. Jackie said, “This will go viral. The influencers brought on to help get out the positive messages have a combined 30 million followers. Times are challenging. Kids are out of school, stuck in their rooms and getting depressed. Depression can cause people to turn to drugs. The generation before us has the historical information, and resources to help the younger generation [avoid drug use]. They are the change to guide the generations that will come behind us.” The day after the Las Vegas events where the launch, two important projects launch took place. I asked Jackie how she felt about the success of the launch. She smiled and responded, “I feel so exhilarated today. We are saving lives.” From one Mother to another, I applauded Jackie for her strong efforts in keeping the memory of her daughter alive. Jackie is a strong woman. The day after the Las Vegas events where the launch of two important projects took place, I was invited to the private and luxurious Elvis Presley Suite, at the Westgate Property to chat with Jackie. I asked Jackie how she felt about the success of the launch. She smiled and responded, “I feel so exhilarated today. We are saving lives.” From one mom to another, I personally applauded Jackie for her strong efforts in keeping the memory of her daughter alive. Jackie is a strong woman. I wanted to dig deeper into the soul
of this magnificent woman. Let’s take it down a notch and share some Jackie has undoubtedly lived a life fun topics that make life easier! that many only dream of. She won the Mrs. Florida America beauty Corretta: Jackie, tell me about your pageant in 1993. Sadly, once the most rewarding day in your life. director of the pageant passed away. Jackie: “It hasn’t happened yet.” Jackie received a phone call from Corretta: Jackie who is your the national leadership asking her to favorite Shoe designer? take over. As time moved on, Jackie Jackie: “I’d have to say Louboutin knew she would love to be a part because they have many choices of an organization that made such of the lower heels that are still a huge impact in her personal life! sexy.” Thus, she now owns the Mrs. Florida Corretta: With such a grand America beauty pageant contest and residence there in Florida, do you is its director. Winning the pageant have an Interior Designer? changed Jackie’s life. She was in a Jackie: “Well, the kids design their previous relationship that was very own rooms, but yes.” abusive. She says, “Winning the Corretta: My favorite vacation pageant changed my life because I destination is Iceland. Where is could go out and teach women about your favorite vacation destination? the strength of walking away from Jackie: “There is no place like abuse”. home, when the Versailles mansion is finished (it is currently under Jackie is a champion in my eyes. I construction through 2021), it will know her journey is not easy. I would be my favorite place to hang out!” not be accurate in saying I know how Corretta: What is your favorite she feels, but I do empathize with her book of all time? in the loss of Victoria “Rikki” Siegel Jackie: “The Da Vinci Code and and support all of her efforts to save The Giving Tree are both favorites lives through awareness regarding of mine.” the benefits of not using drugs and Corretta: What is your favorite the importance of getting “high on song? Life.” Jackie: “Hotel California by the Eagles.” Visit www.victoriasiegelfoundation.org I asked Jackie to tell me about to learn how you can support the Christmas with the Siegel’s. “We Siegel’s in their effort to save lives have about ten Christmas trees against the opioid crisis. around the home. I have some food catered; my Mom (Debbie Mallery) and I join together and cook. With a large family we have plenty of ‘must haves’ on the table, but turkey legs are a certain item that we must have”. communiqué Magazine
VICTORIA’S VOICE TAKING BOLD STEPS TO PREVENT ADDICTION AND SAVE LIVES written by C. NaTasha Richburg
Victoria’s Voice Foundation (VVF) is “taking bold steps to prevent addiction and save lives.” The foundation was born from the tragic loss of David and Jackie Siegel‘s daughter Victoria five years ago; Jackie and David believe that through the death of their daughter, many lives can be saved. The magazine, communiqué, was invited to a business meeting at the Westgate Hotel and Fresco Italiano Restaurant in Las Vegas with the VVF executive director, Mina Lu, and Tyee Ali, the 23-year-old CEO and President of Artsace, a Management company. The restaurant has a very inviting setting and atmosphere that was perfect for the team’s first face-to-face meeting. The professionally attentive waiters encapsulated the bustling around the restaurant that aimed to serve customers with a sprit of excellence. In the room, small groups of young people gleefully chatted while looking at their phones and fitting perfectly into the meeting’s purpose. The team of Fresco Italiano waiters gracefully moved about the room with the familiarity of a well-rehearsed dance team, each member with perfect timing and exquisite precision.
Mina Lu Making it happen behind the scenes of VVF The executive director of Victoria’s Voice Foundation (VVF), Mina Lu, is a laser-focused presence concentrated on projects that manifest the foundation’s vision. Mina’s extraordinarily focus on the excellence needed to to bring about the benefits of a sober lifestyle sends a message to kids that demonstrates the benefits of how we can have a positive life worth living. Equipped to provide tangible evidence of Victoria’s Voice clear messages, Mina Lu handed out a card that expresses VVF’s four approaches: 1) Victoria‘s voice school outreach, that has reached 55,000 students in over 100 Marc Metro presentations; 2) The “Truth Not Talk Video Challenge” in partnership with the DEA for kids 13 -22 in Clark County, NV launched on August 25, 2020; 3) “Social Media for Good” in partnership with Tyee Ali, CEO and president of Artsace, the artist manager for a team of social influencers who celebrate approximately 30 million followers with a 20-30% engagement rate. The influencers hold weekly Instagram Live events with thousands of kids called “High on Life,” along with quarterly “teen chats” on Zoom; 4) Media Content to Drive the Message, starting with the publishing of Victoria’s diary in the book “Victoria’s Voice”, is used to inspire people in hope of saving lives. Tyee Ali Leading a path towards Social Media for Good Tyee Ali, the manager of the social media influencers present at the Fresco Italiano Restaurant; communiqué Magazine did not realize at the time that a group of social media influencers were seated at several tables in the left center of the room. Ranging in age from 14 to 21, these young men are social media experts; include a number of publicly recognizable young personalities who lead a clean lifestyle
that avoids drug use, a theme passed on to social media through their social media fans. Tyee, the manager of social media influencers, is wise beyond his years with a vision for providing positive energy to social media spaces to offer a detour to prevent young people’s engagement in illegal drug use. Tyee is a kind, energetically focused young man with a mission to train and grow social media influencers in “the right way,” meaning the influencers who work for him will focus on being “high on life.” It was the life-changing behavior Tyee learned when a family member became schizophrenic after years of drug abuse. That change in his family member’s behavior motivated Tyee to stay away from drug use. Tyee is positioned in support of Victoria’s Voice Foundation to push a young tribe of clean, talented social media influencers focused to serve up “Social Media for Good.” Artsace is fighting to beat the odds of social media negativity to combat negative gains with an abundance of positive influences. To be a positive influencer is a bold move and not for the faint of heart. But people should not be fooled by Tyee’s calm demeanor; according to him, he is a “Dragon” who knows how to Spitfire when it’s needed. He’s a manager of talent. When asked about his biggest success story, Tyee said everything is a big blur, then sat back in his chair and began to reflect. At that moment Tyee realized his biggest success story is being able to keep all the social media influencers on his team clean, engaging only in a drug-free lifestyle. When asked about his biggest fear, Tyee said it is a distant fear that one of his team of young social media influencers may take drugs one day. To make sure that would never happen, Tyee does everything humanly possible to keep his team away from environments that support drug use while consistently reinforcing the benefits of a drug-free lifestyle.
Tyee is more than a manager of social media influencers; he is a young man whose overall vision is to one day own an international entertainment company offering a full range of services (e.g., multimedia productions, concert production, A&R services, etc.). Currently based in Las Vegas, Tyee wants to expand his services across the ocean and make a global impact. At the end of the evening at the Westgate Resort Hotel’s Fresco Italiano Restaurant, the meeting attendees gathered to take a picture with the social media influencers and the communiqué Magazine CEO. While preparing for the photo, a fan recognized the influencers. The fan paused, smiled, and enthusiastically waited to greet the influencers. The moment obviously meant a lot to the fan and demonstrated how social media influencers create a positive effect on young people beyond the world of social media. During the “Truth Not Talk Voice Challenge Launch,” VVF social media influencer Vallyk Pena said to an attentive crowd of onlookers, “The world is not perfect, and we can move to make it as perfect as we can.” Since the social media influencers understand that “Kids listen to Kids,” they collectively act as a positive voice forging a path to achieve a drug free life-style.
SOCIAL INFLUENCERS The social influencers work under the direction of Tyee Ali, CEO and President of Artsace.
Tyee Ali CEO and President of Artsace
Derek Trendz age:17 Social media @Derektrendz “A good day for me is hanging out with friends, making videos, talking to my supporters, eating ice cream, Playing video games with friends,
Keanni Mentez age:16 Social media Instagram: @itskeanni Tiktok:@KeanniMentez “When I wake up get ready and if my hair turns out looking nice then I feel good the rest of the day nice and confident. That’s a good date for me!”
Justin Torres age:21 Social media @Jussstiiin_ “ A good day for me I was hanging out with friends and eating good food."
Vallyk Pene age:16 Social media @VallykPena “A good day is when everything goes as planned and everybody has a good energy. Also I need food LOL I get hungry without food."
Trentyn Lehman age:16 Social media Tiktok: @Trentynlehman Instagram: @Trentynlehman6 “A good day for me spending time with my family and friends.”
Devin Allen age:18
Michael Chong age:18 Social media @slimedupmike “A good day it’s going to the beach all day with friends and watching the sunset while listening to 90s rap and R&B music.”
Jiggy Turner age: 14
Social media Instagram: @Devin_Allen21 Tiktok: Devin Allen
Social media Tiktok: @Jiggyturner Instagram: @Jiggy.turner
“A good day for me as being with my friends and family and doing things like volleyball basketball or going to the river together."
“A good day for me is stress-free and spending a lot of fun time with my friends and family. Also, finding money on the ground is a pretty good thing for me.” : ) communiqué Magazine
INTENTIONAL OVERCOMER written by Alesha Brown, The Joy Guru years, collect my retirement, and then I can live my life.” Lord, I laugh and shake my head every time I remember how convicted I was in the above statement. Another infamous memory is from a graduate school group project where I successfully created a business plan, including the full concept, vision, design, and funding sources. It was pure genius and so convincing that my professor was excited and asked me when we were planning to open. I can still see the disappointment on his face when I told him that we had no plans to open, I was simply completing the assignment. Side Note: If I had opened that business, I would have been one of the first to the market and would be a millionaire now. As a Black woman who had the forethought to include government capital, welfare-to-work/prison pipeline along with organic foods…Yeah, before it was being done!
How one denial and decades of silence created a global entrepreneur and 100% self-employment.
Honestly, the woman I was back then could have spent the rest of her existence void of entrepreneurship. However, my accidental journey to entrepreneurship not only makes me glad that I did not open that business, but thankful for where I am now. I became an entrepreneur by accident until entrepreneurship became my only source of employment.
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. NEVER. Regardless of my advanced business studies in high school and college, I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. After all, “what type of a crazy person would agree to never have a guaranteed payday, amount, and job security? I will just work my 30
My life has always been layered in abuse and adversity longer than I can remember. From constantly being sick since two-weeks old, causing me to miss almost 30-50 percent of every school year until I reached high school−to surviving an abusive childhood where suicide often seemed
like my only means of escape. Of course, as a young Black female in Corporate America and government, I dealt with racism, disparate treatment, and the unwritten rule that “you will always have to work at least twice as hard to receive close to what they do.” I resigned from my “good government job”, which according to my family was any form of government work that had great benefits regardless of the pay. It was ingrained in me to work hard now, get your retirement check, and then you can do what you want. Entrepreneurship, legacy building, and wealth are just for “white people” so don’t even think along those terms. Looking back, it appeared that anything that was “risky” was for “white people.” Really? So I am supposed to give my youth away and hopefully I can “play later” in my “old age?” At some point, this did not sound like a fair trade. So how did I become an Accidental Entrepreneur? $3,500. I asked for a $3,500 salary adjustment and was denied. I was told by everyone, including my boss and executive management, how I worked three times more than the Caucasian female I replaced who had worked there for 34 years. (In an almost exclusively white, executive department, this was quite a statement.) I was repeatedly told how much of an asset I was and how the former worker was never present for committee meetings and no one truly knew what she did in the office. I even created, spearheaded, and successfully executed a solo project that was unheard of for someone in my position and had never been done without an entire department and team. Yet, after all of that I had accomplished, contributed and the experience, advanced education, and expertise that I brought to the position, I was denied a mere $3,500 salary adjustment request. Did I forget to mention that almost all salary adjustments for our department came across my desk? So I knew what they could do versus what they would not do. That denial changed the trajectory of my life and propelled me to entrepreneurship. I realized that everything I was ever taught about work harder and you will eventually be recognized and rewarded was a lie. Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy snatch the veil from my eyes: you could invest in your company’s retirement plan for decades and legally they can take it from you. Can we talk about those risks along with the fact that I live in an employment-at-will state where you can be terminated at any time without consequence?
My employer had given me the best gift: the awareness that they were not invested in me and that I needed to invest in myself. It was time to reevaluate my life and pursue my passions and dreams more than someone else’s vision for my life. (Someone else included my family, peers, friends, and employer.) I had recently published my first book and was working on my second; enjoying my media life as a podcast co-host, digital magazine contributing writer, and associate editor as well as my small business side hustle where I was an authors’ consultant. My platform was to encourage other trauma and abuse survivors that there was life after and it was a glorious one if they allowed and designed it to be. As the business grew, I was working around the clock at my job, taking extended lunches, and using paid leave to attend business networking opportunities. I used my flexible schedule meaning I came to work early and left late. After realizing that I was on the job before and after my boss and staff workers meaning 12 hours or more, I had to make a decision. Working the business before and after my main employment time meant that I had less than six hours of sleep and was completely exhausted. My health was declining as a result. Would I give up my small business and just focus on my “good government job” or what I take the risk and leap into 100% self-employment? The woman I had been groomed to be since said, Don’t be stupid; keep your job. But there was this inner voice that, this time screamed, Giving up your business means you are giving up on yourself. That thought alone horrified me so I made the only decision that seemed rational. Of course, if I were writing the script for this story, I would end it with “and she lived happily ever after” but it was not quite so picture perfect. One month after resigning, my non-profit founder had emergency surgery and they were not sure whether she would survive. Simultaneously, my mother had a mammogram that came back questionable and we faced the possibility that she could have cancer. While I was anxious over these two events, I was happy that I had the flexibility to be with both of them during those times. However, just four months later, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness where I struggled to walk, hold a glass, make a sandwich, or cut an apple.
All I could think was that I finally dared to LIVE the life of my dreams and now my life was reduced to this? But that entire period, even having to shut down my business for the better part of a year, taught me a lesson in resilience. I learned: • How fleeting life is • How your life can drastically change in a minute (good, bad, or indifferent) • How life is too short to put your desires on hold or live with regret • Anything you survive can be used as fuel to propel you to greatness The one thing I took solace in during the worse moments battling that illness is that the months prior were not spent behind a desk doing what was expected of me. I lived them in freedom, on my own terms. If those were the last months of the best parts of my life then, thank God, I had them and the associated memories. Fast forward several years later, a pandemic, and a few months after having spinal surgery, I am thankful for the journey and never regret betting on myself. The fact that I cannot go and work a 9 to 5 and entrepreneurship is my only option makes me beam with pride. I get to design my success and live my vision every single day. While I cannot tell you how the story ends because I am still living it, I can tell you that the best parts of my life have yet begun. Following my passion and become an accidental entrepreneur has made me a global entrepreneur, book publisher, and strategist with clients from age 7 to 72. I am at the table providing input on global projects with
influencers who discuss eight-figure deals. (Yes, I said eightfigure deals so you can imagine what type of revenue their companies generate.) My entrepreneurship journey gave me LIFE and breathes life into me every day. And just to think, I almost traded my freedom, purpose, and passion for $3,500. What blessings are you blocking by working for someone else’s vision for your life versus your own? You can follow me and keep up with my progress, including sneak peeks & behind the scene information on this magazine, at TheJoyGuru.net. There you will find my social media links to all my platforms and can be part of the conversation.
Shoot For The Stars written by Arlette Thomas-Fletcher
We all have dreams when we are children and our parents tell us to shoot for the stars! Some of us approach our lives with a great zeal and push to be all that we can be. We let nothing hold us back from reaching the heavens in our life. Whether we climb a mountain, hike a trail, or run a race we do it with a certain zest and zeal. What causes some of us to slow down and wait on life and allow the dream we had to pass us by? Procrastination is the one thing that stops most people from achieving all that they could be in life. I procrastinated for many years myself. I would tell myself that I would get things accomplished and time would pass, and those things did not get done. My mother was the most tenacious person anybody could be raised by. She never let any grass grow under her feet. If she was pushed in life she pushed back with hard work and perseverance. She worked around the clock raising five children alone. She never believed in quitting on herself or anything else. My mother believed that there was nothing that God could not bring her through. In college I failed to remember the adage my mother taught me of shooting for the stars. She wanted me to follow my dreams in life and never give up on my talents. When I took the safe route and chose Business Administration as a major, I really should have been a Theater Arts or Film major. I graduated and went on to Johns Hopkins University and received a Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in Business. While this is a wonderful path for some, it was not the path for someone who was called to be an artist. My dream would not be silenced nor would it be halted. Why because it was the dream that God had placed in me. So it would always popup. I would always find myself writing poetry, stories, plays and ultimately screenplays. Later, I 67
found myself producing films and writing and performing songs. My soul was always moved in the direction of my dream. God placed in my heart a burning desire for storytelling, and I am now choosing the medium of film. Sometimes we think that taking the practical road is the way that we should go. We need to step out on faith to shoot for our star. We are intended to make a difference in the world and change it for the better with our gifts. As you live your life and chose your path, just remember that nothing is too hard for God to help you do. And nothing is impossible for you to achieve if you only just believe. Mark Twain said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.â&#x20AC;? For more information about Arlette Thomas-Fletcher go to www.fruitsofthespiritproductions.com
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written by Corretta L. Doctor Photography: West on Jade Photography Photographer: Juliet Cannici I always dreamed of being able to share my inner, soulful thoughts through pictures. Since I was a child, one thing or the other stifled my inner voice, which eventually stifled my outer voice. Pictures could have told my story. Images could have adopted my thoughts and presented a narrative of my private struggles to the world. I love photography. It is art in many forms. Photography is art with a message. As an adult, I have grown to love photography and I realize now that I missed my calling to become a professional photographer. I enjoy watching photographers work. The result of what one sees through the lens is always unique and creative. One lens delivers one vision. One vision creates many messages. When I look at photos I see so much more than an image. Recently while perusing the internet, my soulful eyes wandered upon some breathtaking, emotionally driven images that immediately warmed my heart. Photographer Juliet Cannici captured images of two brothers named Myles Nixon Johnson (the older child) and Gavyn Nixon Johnson (the younger child). The photoshoot was a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. Katisha Woods Johnson is the mother of these handsome models, and with her divine talent, she created the costumes that they are wearing. 69
Chadwick Boseman was an American actor. After studying directing at Howard University, Boseman achieved international fame for playing superhero Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) from 2016 to 2019. He appeared in four MCU films, including an eponymous 2018 film that earned him an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. As the first black actor to headline an MCU film, Boseman was also named to the 2018 Time 100. In 2016, Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer. Boseman kept his condition private, continuing to act while receiving treatment. He died August 28, 2020 from complications related to the illness. His final film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, is scheduled to be released posthumously. Juliet Cannici is the owner of West on Jade Photography. The quote on her website could not be truer, â&#x20AC;&#x153;PHOTOGRAPHY IS A WAY OF FEELING, OF TOUCHING, OF LOVING. WHAT YOU HAVE CAUGHT ON FILM IS CAPTURED FOREVER... IT REMEMBERS LITTLE THINGS, LONG AFTER YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN EVERYTHING."
written by Corretta L. Doctor with Sandra L. Kearse-Stockton
LIFE Many of them joined the military right out of high school. Some of them cried all the time, especially at night. I would sit by their bed and try to comfort them.
Sandra L. Kearse- Stockton has completed a 30-year career divided into three branches of the military: the
My 12-person squad was always on point. I assigned
U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and the U.S. National Guard.
each recruit in my squad a duty. Whoever was good
Her journey in the military started for one reason and
at one of our requirements had the job of making sure
that was to provide more income for her family. More
everyone could pass that measure. From making bed
than three decades later, and after a successful triple
linen so tight that a coin could bounce off it, making
decade in the military, Sandra reflects on her career.
sure ones clothing drawer was in order, and ensuring that all items measured off in the correct military
â&#x20AC;&#x153;I joined the United States Air Force Reserves in May of 1979 at the age of 29 and went to basic training in Texas at Lackland Air Force Base for eight weeks. I thought that I would never make it out of basic training. I was used to yelling at my children when I needed to, but having grown people yelling at me 24/7 was just too much. I was older than all of the recruits in my unit and that was cool because I was chosen to be a squad leader. Therefore, in the leadership role, I felt like I still had kids around me that I could yell at if I wanted to. However, I found that most of the other soldiers needed a mother figure. Some of them had never been away from home.
manner, we were good at what we did. I assigned four
recruits to weekly laundry for the entire squad, all
whenever needed. I stay true to myself.
clothing was identifiable with the last four numbers of each recruits social security number. My group knew
During basic training, I met a soldier who was from
what teamwork meant and that was the only way we
California. We started discussing our recruitment. She
would all make it out of the basic training camp as an
was a Captain. I asked her if she was given credit for her
education and she told me yes that she had a Bachelor’s degree. I said wow! I never told her of my degrees,
The easiest thing about that basic training was going
but I had more than she did. I was not even feeling
home. I missed my family. Later came on-the-job
that- she had less education but was given a higher
‘OJT’ training to become a Medic. The training was
rank than me. I started to wonder how I could get out
held at Andrews Air Force Base and then one weekend a
of the Army. One day we had a group class with more
month plus two weeks annual training every year at Andrews Air Force Base. In April of 1989 at age 40 I joined the United States Army as an Officer. During my eight years of enlisted time, I completed a Bachelors and a Master’s degree. I heard on television that the Army was recruiting nurses because of a shortage. I also heard from another military friend that blacks make rank quicker in the Army, so I joined. I was given the rank of First Lieutenant. I went to Officer Basic Training in Texas at Fort Sam Houston.
thinking that it would be much better than Enlisted Basic Training. The only difference was that I was an officer now instead of an
than 100 soldiers. We were getting a visit from the
enlisted person. That did not matter because I was still
command in Washington, DC. They spoke to us and
a trainee, and all instructors were officers who had an “I
asked if anyone had any concerns. Many people had
am the boss attitude”. My battle buddy was Ruth Minor
concerns. I finally raised my hand to be recognized. I
who is now a retired Lieutenant Colonel. The easiest
stood up and told the female presenter that I thought
part about training was having a battle buddy and since
it was horrible how the United States Army recruited
I was a little older, most things I let roll off my back.
nurses with unfair practices. She said what? I said, not
The military influenced my life in many ways: staying
to mention anyone’s name Ma’am but an officer whom
fit, protecting others when the need arises, supporting
I have more degrees than was given the direct rank of
people who are weaker than I am, lending a hand
Captain as an incentive to join the military and I want
to know why? That Colonel spoke with me offline
of the person who was shot there and later died. Not
and said she would check into that situation. About a
just any person died there, but your husband and the
month later, I was in another forum where all soldiers
father of your children. I am so sorry. Even though it
were present. The male officer asked the class; “How
was years ago, some memories never, fade. I cried day
many of you think the Army makes mistakes? “ The
in and day out; I could not get it together. He died the
room was quiet. He then said, the Army does make
same way his mother died, gun violence. Remembering
mistakes and we are going to make something right this
how hurt he was when he lost his mother. I was so mad
morning. He said Officer Stockton front and center.
at God and thinking why would he let this happen”.
As of this day, First Lieutenant Sandra L. Stockton’s commission, she is now a Captain. He removed my
Happy Veteran’s Day Sandra!
rank and replaced it with my Captain rank. This is one of my most memorable promotions.
Follow Sandra by bookmarking her website and checking back regularly for updates on new books,
One morning after physical fitness training, I was told
interviews, and television appearances.
to report to the personnel office (I am thinking what
now?) I was called into one of the offices; I was told that they had a problem. I was told that I was still in the United States Air Force. I said no I am not. I told my Commander that I quit, and he said okay. I did not know that the commander placed me in the Individual Ready Reserve Corp. I said, “Lord Jesus” how are we going to fix this? He said we would work it out because you cannot be in two different branches of the service at the same time and we are not giving you up. After a few challenges and some fear along the way, my biggest fear was dying in the military while being away from home. Anything could have happened. I was a great soldier, and by the way, my marksman skills were expert on the M-16. Through it all, I learned that teamwork is essential in many instances”. Sandra L. Stockton released her first publication October 2020 titled, ‘480 Codorus Street: Surviving Unpredictability’. Here is a summary of the book: “I was now a nineteen-year-old widow with three kids. Not too many people witness a murder. Then return to that same home and be reminded daily about the death
her from reaching for the stars! De’Vaughn’s biological mom is the strongest person she knows. De’Vaughn stumbled into the world of pageantry after having her son in 2013. Becoming a mother has empowered De’Vaughn to believe that she can accomplish anything! The beauty of bringing forth “precious life” birthed a new purpose within De’Vaughn! De’Vaughn has an intense desire to contribute and give back to the community where her son is being raised! “I knew that I could not inspire my son to be his absolute best if I myself was not being so. Having him inspired me to do the internal work, to nurture my passions and follow my dreams,” says De’Vaughn. In 2014, her exceptional work ethic and professionalism, paved the way for greater opportunities! De’Vaughn was one out of twenty-four models chosen to make an appearance at an NFL Seahawks’ event. De’Vaughn was not aware that the Assistant Pageant Director for the “Miss Black Washington USA Pageant” had been observing her. The Assistant Pageant Director encouraged De’Vaughn to compete in an upcoming pageant. Prior to this De’Vaughn never considered competing in pageants. However, she loved all things “pink and glitter and shiny!” De’Vaughn concluded that this was an amazing opportunity and embraced the world of Pageantry! In 2015, De’Vaughn was crowned “Miss Black Washington USA!” During De’Vaughn’s 2016 reign, she received the title of “Goodwill Ambassador!”
written by Tisha Roberson De’Vaughn Williams is taking the state of Washington by STORM! De'Vaughn holds the title for “Miss Black America Washington 2018/2019.” In addition, De’Vaughn is an entrepreneur who is zealous about using her platform to inspire people from all walks of life! De’Vaughn is intentional about making a positive and lasting impact in the lives she encounters. Her motto is “Breath is life and life is good!” De’Vaughn had a humble beginning. She hails from Seattle, Washington. During the early part of her childhood, she experienced hardship, rejection, and was in Foster Care. However, she refused to allow the hardships of life to hinder
De’Vaughn enjoys eating delicious food and loves to SLAY in the kitchen! Her favorite food to devour is Tacos! She is a passionate lover of chocolate. De’Vaughn has worked diligently in the kitchen to perfect her homemade “mac n cheese!” Now, De’Vaughn’s mouthwatering “mac n cheese” is a regular request for family gatherings! She enjoys reading diverse genres of books, watching movies that are comedies, she occasionally plays video games, and sings Opera! De’Vaughn grew up singing with her sister, this special connection helped carry these siblings through childhood. During high school, De’Vaughn desired to find a new elective. She auditioned for Concert Choir. That same teacher who inspired De’Vaughn to sing classical music years ago, has helped train her to sing opera in pageants!
“With pageantry, everything seemed to come back full circle. It was exciting! And in its own divine way, healing for me," says De’Vaughn. If De’Vaughn had the ability to have a Superpower, she would choose to be INVINCIBLE! She declared “I've been told that I couldn't do a lot of things.... Because I was a foster kid, because I do not have a formal college education, because I am not heavily sponsored/supported by the mainstream fashion industry back home, because I am a proud Black American woman, I've been told so many things that I could NOT do.. And I've pushed past all of that.. Unapologetically. I define me! And as long as I remain true to my own vibration, I can do anything. I'm building my own tables AT which to sit”. De’Vaughn adds, "As a pageant coach, Queen and consultant, I realized over the years that every single one of us has a story behind our crowns, myself included. It's about time we heard them!" De’Vaughn is currently making a monumental difference throughout her community with her title, “by working with what she has.” Beginning in 2016, De’Vaughn intertwined her love for pageantry, fashion and community service to create the Pacific Northwest's first mainstream platform for the celebration of Black arts, culture, history and fashion, Ebony Fashion Week! With the help of De’Vaughn’s business partners, Plushed By Berber Designs & Events, she recently partnered with Estee Lauder to launch Ebony Fashion Week's newest department, Fashion Week Noire! In addition, De'Vaughn works as a Pageant Coach and Consultant. Currently, De’Vaughn is in the process of launching a new talk show, Crowns Off Royalty Uncensored! She will be interviewing Pageant Queens, Pageant Kings, and various people in positions of power! The people in the state of Washington inspire De’Vaughn. “They are full of gogetters and self-made CEOs!” De’Vaughn’s desire and goal is to use her space to help others share their stories, to exalt her community, and to portray Black Culture in a positive light! De’Vaughn tells me, "With every decision I make as Ebony Fashion Week/Fashion Week Noire CEO, I aim to bridge the gap between grassroots communities and the high fashion industry”. Please, do not get it twisted! Although De'Vaughn competes in pageants, models, and is passionate about fashion, this SISTA is far from shallow! Ha! De’Vaughn’s advice to “young
girls” who are heavily intoxicated by the superficial and vanity plaguing today’s culture is, “Doing the internal work is so much more significant than anything that you can put on the outside of the body. It’s okay to have people to look up to, but know how to differentiate between what reality is and what entertainment is!” She goes on to say, “My life's mission is to use my sunny disposition, my talents, drive, and vigor to create positive change in my life and in the lives of others. Through that, I hope to inspire others to be their own version of greatness, and to use that greatness to change the world”. De’Vaughn envisions that in ten years, her movement and talk show will become international and worldwide! Her desire is to put on shows and search for hidden talent in communities that have been overlooked around the globe! De’Vaughn envisions having the funds to send her son to college, owning multiple properties, and possibly marriage! When De’Vaughn was asked the final question, “Would the little girl that you were years ago be proud of the woman that you have become today?” De’Vaughn responded sincerely, “She would not only be proud! But she would be inspired by the woman that I am today”! EbonyFashionWeek.com Instagram: @ebonyfashionweek @FWNoire | Facebook: @EbonyFW @FWNoire PlushedByBerber.com Instagram: @plushedbyberberdesign.events | Facebook: Plushed By Berber
Beautiful Minds The Unexpected Health Benefits of Crafting written by SIGRUN BRAGA Guðrúnardóttir “Craftivists open hearts and minds. It’s about connecting through, by and with craft and creating more compassionate community.” Craftivism Manifesto Our ancestors had skills which were essential for everyday life. With their hands they crafted, and they mended to ensure their survival. Even though people have been working with their hands for a longer period of time than our elders can remember, researchers are just recently beginning to look into the many mental and physical health benefits of creative, rhythmic and repetitive activities. When we experience trauma the body itself along with a part of the brain called the amygdala keeps the score. Not only is our world view altered but, also our brain function and even our DNA is impacted. It’s a peculiar thing about the amygdala, you see, it’s not a very rational part of the brain. Therefore, we often react to mundane happenings in everyday life based on the trauma we´ve gone through because, they trigger and remind the brain of the initial trauma itself. Whether it’s through a strong smell, loud and sudden noises, bright lights or we are simply over stressed because we are late to an appointment, these triggers set off our innate alarm system in the amygdala often called fight, flight, freeze/play dead responses. The result can often be seen in autonomic activity such as anxiety, restlessness, increased heart rate and blood pressure or even increased blood sugar levels. In situations like these, it is very important to find ways to balance the body and the mind. And that’s where crafting and craftivism can come in handy. Something that our foremothers really knew deep down inside because they had been “connecting through, by and with their craft” through sewing and quilting bees, knitting groups and other gatherings where they met and crafted with their hands. Often side by side, without necessarily having to look each
other in the eye. Through my work as group leader in women’s self-help groups at Stígamót, a Reykjavík based Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence, (https://www.stigamot.is/ is/languages/english) I’ve discovered that one of traumas hidden long term affects is the tendency to withdraw oneself from social gatherings. Which often led to other various mental health problems. While the reasons behind withdrawing oneself are both quite personal and based on the trauma itself, one of many consequences of social isolation is often the difficulty to maintain eye contact. But, when breaking out of that self-inflicted isolation by meeting up with other people to work with our hands, to create something, we can reduce loneliness and increase our sense of wellbeing. According to Mental Health America, studies have shown that creative, rhythmic and repetitive activities induce relaxation responses which is the opposite of the fight or flight responses. By focusing on the task at hand, and talking about the hobby, we receive several physical and mental health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, reduced depression and anxiety, distraction from chronic pain and even slowed onset of dementia. https://www.mhanational.org/blog/mental-health-benefitsknitting It would be simple of me to state that crafting can save us from trauma. However, since “craftivism doesn’t expect us to come with skills but with willingness... we can build a better world together by reclaiming the slow process of creating by hand with thought, with purpose, with love. Craftivism is a tool to instantly create a small part of the warmer, friendlier and more colorful world we hope to see in the future” and therefore help us with recovering from and dealing with trauma.
Service with Resilience
written by Stacey Henry-Carr I appreciate and respect the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces for their dedication, courage, and patriotism. So, it was with admiration and gratitude that I spoke with Janice Murrell, a veteran of the United States Army. Janice had a long career of over 30 years in the Army and wanted to share some of her lessons learned with the communiqué Magazine readers. Janice Murrell signed up for the Army in 1979 and held numerous positions throughout her career. She started in Communications, climbing poles and installing telephones, then she transferred to missile defense and finished her career in transportation. It was a conversation she had with her uncle who served in Vietnam that inspired her interest in the military, but what led her to enlist is an interesting story. After high school Janice was working in a fast-food job making little money, then one day her girlfriend asked her to accompany her to a job interview as she was looking for encouragement. She said when she got to the interview it was a recruiting station. Her friend asked her to join the Army with her and since she had already discussed, learned, and was inspired by her veteran uncle her decision was easy. Interestingly, Janice said after that day at the recruiting office, she went to the Army, but her girlfriend did not. We talked about the recruiting station and how it turned out to be for her and not her friend. As a woman in the military, it was challenging especially since the field she was in had predominantly
men. She decided to learn the trade the best she knew how so that she could advance. She explained that there were times when it got hard, but she pushed through and persevered. Her biggest challenge was when she was the only female in her platoon. She said she wanted to make sure her hygiene was taken care of without requesting special arrangements. She intentionally made sure they did not make a special arrangement for her to avoid the backlash of “because you are a woman.” Janice did not want anyone to say “that’s why we don’t want women in Field Artillery”, so she did what she needed to do without any interference of the mission. Her determination and resilience shined through in communiqué Magazine
those moments. Janice was born in Alabama, grew up in Freeport, New York, and currently lives in Georgia, but this southernborn girl is well-traveled. Although she was stationed in Germany she traveled to Spain Sweden, England, and many other countries. She talked about the underground in London and her travels throughout Europe. She said she saw the River Dance and historical sites in Ireland, performances in London, but her favorite place she visited was Fiji.
Janice enjoyed all the roles she held in the Army and said she gained different lessons with each role. In her communication role she used to climb poles and met a lot of people, the field artillery made her a stronger leader and prepared her for the position in transportation. The structure she developed in the military has helped her to learn and create her business. She developed a cadence and expects a high quality of work. It has helped her to acquire strong leadership skills and allowed her to be an organized and structured leader.
I asked her what she would tell young people about joining the military. She said, “I would tell them to get the experience and sign up for at least four years. The military has been good to me.” She has seen the world, she had great benefits, learned other cultures, and walked away with life lessons learned. The military is a good foundation to find out who you are and where you want to be. She stated that when people do not leave their communities they live with blinders on and traveling will help them to form their own opinions of the world. The military can help them to move out of their comfort zone.
Janice made me laugh out loud when I asked her if she had any fun facts that she wanted to share with the communiqué Magazine readers. She said, “I think I am a very rigid and boring person,” but her saying that was fun. She said after being in the military for such a long time she is structured. After she retired from the military, she recognized that her thinking was different from the civilian world, but she is always looking to find ways to meet in the middle without compromising who she is. She did share that she travels to see friends she met in the military and her fun fact is spending time with friends and relaxing.
One of the biggest lessons Janice brought home with her was the importance of treating people equally regardless of the color of their skin or their culture. She explained that being deployed to the different countries made her recognize some of what we take for granted in the United States. She stated that it is completely different in war-torn countries. She has seen what true poverty looks like and she treats people with dignity, respect, and never judge because we all have a story.
It all started with the discussion she had with her uncle many years ago about the Vietnam war. She said he was so proud of serving his country although he was struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I asked her what it means to be a veteran in the United States, and she said, “It is bitter-sweet. It has come a long way since the Vietnam war.” She has no regrets and still carries profound lessons learned, lifetime friendships, and a love for people of all cultures. She is still using the things she learned in the military today in her everyday life. Janice Murrell lives with her nonnegotiables of integrity, loyalty, confidence, quality, self-control, and belief in Jesus Christ. Thank you, Janice Murrell, for the courage and bravery to serve your country for over 30 years.
When Janice joined the military, she made it a career and had no regrets after retirement. After she left the military in 2010, she went to Afghanistan as a contractor, then returned and created a landscape business. Now after 6 years as a business owner she is returning to Afghanistan as a contractor. 91
Danielle M. Batiste
written by Trenace’ K. Carter Mother, best-selling author, speaker and advocate, Danielle M. Batiste is all that and more. Danielle was born and raised in the small town of New Roads, Louisiana. Danielle is the oldest of her siblings. When Danielle graduated from high school her grandmother told her to get a part time job. She headed out to search for a part-time job, and upon her return home she had a surprise for her family: she had enlisted in the U.S Army. She said her grandmother’s response was, “I said get a part time job. I didn’t tell you to join the Army.” Danielle was intent to serve her country. She and a friend made a pact to join on the buddy system but her friend backed out. Specialist Batiste served in the U.S. Army for six years and two months. Danielle served as a Motor Transport Operator (“88M”). As a motor transport operator, Danielle was responsible for transporting cargo and personnel. The 88M military occupational specialty (MOS) plays a key role in keeping the Army moving and getting things from
point A to point B, both on and off the battlefield. Danielle was responsible for overseeing the safety of not only the vehicle, but the cargo and passengers, too. Danielle comes from a family that serves in several different branches of the military. Danielle, a self-proclaimed introvert, credits her service in the military for bringing her out of her shell. She says, “The Army will put you in situations where you have to be a leader and take charge. There is no time for being shy.” There were so many things that were new to her. There were so many benefits that Danielle says that she gained. Discipline, integrity, courage and confidence were some of the qualities that she says were worth the time she spent in the Army. When asked what she thought her life would be like without the military, Danielle’s response was, “If I didn’t have the military in my life, my grandmother would have made sure that I was not a statistic. It would not have been a joke. I would not have been able to sit on my butt. I might have gone to college, if I had not joined the military”.
The three things that added the most value to Danielle’s life due to her military service were determination, strength, and evolution. She laughed when I mentioned taking orders. She said that her thought was, “I have to do it anyway. I might as well do it. The whole process just toughened me. What made it easy is the lifelong friendships and love.” Although she and her comrades live in different places, they are still connected and just a phone call away. I asked Danielle to reflect on some of her values that she hopes the younger generation of women will adapt, she shared the following: “Do not give up, have a strong work ethic, and for my nieces and nephews, I want them to see their Auntie as a role model. I would like for them to see that I did it and know they can do it too. Just go for it”. I asked Danielle, after you have accomplished your endeavors and taken stock of what you have accomplished, what role will you say that the Army played in your accomplishments? Danielle says, “you can go there [the military] and become what you want to be. I learned about diversity.” Danielle says that because she enlisted in the Army, she did not become a statistic. She says, “It was God. This [her hometown] is not where you are supposed to be. So, I left and I am glad that I left.” She believes that if she had not left her small town, she would not have been exposed to different people and places. She says, “I learned about life and reality. I became a businesswoman in the military. I bought my first piece of real estate at the age of 24. My life continues to evolve”. Danielle is now a veteran and mother of one son, a vibrant and intelligent young man named Brandon. Danielle has turned a few new chapters in her life as a public figure, author, diabetes awareness advocate, entrepreneur, and champion sharing wisdom to the military community. Through her company, Diabetes Made Better, LLC, Danielle is sharing her health journey of living with Type II Diabetes. Her success in learning to manage her Diabetes prompted her to share the information, tools, resources and motivation with people from all around the world. Last year, Danielle traveled to Paris, France and in the coming years will continue to expand her global presence through speaking engagements, business ventures, and media. Danielle lives in Virginia and travels the world living out her passion and enjoying the fruits of her labor. Visit Danielle Batiste’s website and follow her on Facebook: Website: https://www.daniellebatiste.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Diabetes-MadeBetter-LLC-112450073548199/
Credits Managing Editor Alesha Brown Front Cover Design/Lead Designer Brandon Jolly Brandon Graphic Designs www.brangraphicd.com Jackie Siegel Cover Image and Credits Page Image Pages 53, 56, 57 Photography by: Castaldo Studio Table of Contents Watermark Image Model: Octavia Hike MUA/Stylist: Marsha Marie Designs Hair Stylist: Candise Edison Photographer: Jeffrey B. Martin Martin Studio Photography www.martinstudiophotography.com Pages 9-10 Model: Pamela Reaves Photographer: Roy Cox Pages 15-18 Photographer: Nat Taylor Page 19 Photographer: Jerry A. Barnes Model: Shekinah Griffin Wardrobe/Stylist: JABarnes Photography, LLC HMUA: Shekinah Griffin Page 20 Vintage Photo of Maria Tallchief "Firebird" by Jack Mitchell Pages 25-26 Gabriel Dutton Photographer: Terrell D. Anderson TDA Productions www.relldapro.com Instagram - @_Rellda
Page 33 Karen Williams Photographer: Terrell D. Anderson TDA Productions www.relldapro.com Instagram - @_Rellda Pages 36-40 Photographers: Avery Williams and Julie Mancini Page 41 Photographer: Page 50 Photographer: Daniel DuVernay Table of Contents (Middle Image) and Page 51 Photographer: Nick Onken Pages 55, 59-62 Photographer: Sowele Productions Instagram: @soweleproductions Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Page 63, 65 Top Right Image Photographer: Debra Harrison Ribbons and Sweet Memories Page 66 Model: Mechiko Moulden Stylist/MUA: Mechiko Moulden Photographer: Jeffrey B. Martin Martin Studio Photography www.martinstudiophotography.com
Pages 69-80, Back Cover Models: Myles Nixon Johnson (Older) Gavyn Nixon Johnson (Younger) Designer/Stylist: Katisha Woods Johnson Photographer: Juliet Cannaci West on Jade Photography Page 81, Top Image and Page 83 (Book Cover Image) Photographer: Kim Taylor Kimazing Photos www.kimazingphotos.com Pages 84, 86 Photographer: De’Arra Harris @dnerd87 Hair: Cie Cie Retic @miz_cie MUA: Ephasia Duplessis @beautybyephasia Pages 93-94 Photographer: Kim Taylor Kimazing Photos www.kimazingphotos.com Pages 95-96 Model: Octavia Hike Photographer: Jeffrey B. Martin Martin Studio Photography www.martinstudiophotography.com
communiqué Magazine does not take credit for any Photographs provided by the interviewees. All images are used with the permission granted by the subjects of the articles or by the Photographers listed on the credits page. Any errors or omissions will be corrected on the magazine’s website or in the subsequent issue.