Huami Magazine Atlanta July/August 2022

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AT L A N TA

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July/August 2022 Volume 2 Issue 6

Synergy Hospitality Group Atlanta - July/August 2022

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“Our goal is to educate, and create effective strategies to help you and your investors achieve their goals in hospitality.”

Synergy organizes “investment funds” under syndication to help people investing at lower financial entry points to achieve their commercial lodging goals.

Hospitality “education courses” We educate investors on “how to buy a hotel” and what to look for in the initial investment stages.

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) + FREE Consultations


The Benefits and Burdens of Your Assignment

There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

A Letter From The Editor

With the onset of each new day, there is always a list of things for me to accomplish waiting for me. I prepare my day based on A Letter from the Editor the available hours; you can probably say that I am routine. I would beg to differ and counter by saying I work better in blocks of time if in tomorrow didn’tbeen arrive? All of your plans, hopes and withWhat a plan place. I have fortunate to learn that I don’t and dreams wouldn’t streetjust to park efficiently function withouthave one. aThat’s me. on. What if everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never Onhappened? the other hand, grateful having to look ThereI am would be nofor reason tosomething save for a rainy forward doing. Whilespare often someone things may appear overwhelming, day,toand you could the trouble of making I can promises. rest in the What fact that Godlast hasopportunity chosen me for this experience. if your seemingly expired This istoday? my assignment. It’syou notdo? a “why me Lord” question that I ask; What would instead, it’s a “why not me Lord” affirmation expressed. I’ve been told that I often seem like I do too much. There are several to understand or comprehend Honestly, I feel ways like I am not doing enough and I’m aGod’s firm assignment us. We that can face head-onput andanything work diligently believerupon in knowing God itwouldn’t on me to complete mission or not.I sometimes What I find wonder so fascinating is that when that Ithe couldn’t handle. how life would God initially blessed meidle withand purpose, wasn’t shown what be if I chose to sit acceptIwhat it presented to the me.end I would be like. He didn’t brief me on the events that would occur, have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity and Iismust say, there some and some bad ones. If a blessing thathave isn’t been afforded togood everyone. A challenge I have learned anything thus far, I know that the same to me is an adventure. What is the worst that canpattern happen?will likelyIfrepeat itself at Isome time another. once I tapped I do nothing, fail, and if or I try I don’t, Still, but instead learn into God’ssomething presence and listened for His voice, I realized it was timeinfor new about myself. Relinquish your pride and me toreturn get moving. acquire And life. that’s what I did. God The alsobest givesadvice us theever freedom our assignments. While givento toignore me happened when someone it’s not wise, running from what God calls us into only delays our told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so destiny andpressed purpose.myGod’s says His yoke to bear, I have way word through doors withisa easy key that onlyand the burden He gives isI have light. also Because I believe His word,between my desire to hope provided. learned the difference complete my mission is ignited. Even more, I understand I am what God blesses me with and what life can burden that me with not alone in the fight, and someone else is actually carrying the as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident andbulk of my load. All I have to do is put onewhen foot intofront of the other be quiet, becauseand move. someone may get it confused with being arrogant. The blessing in our assignments is revealed to us once attitude about Make you our tomorrow the assignment is changed. We can happen today, but most embraceimportantly the assignment trust the makeand it count. processLife or ignore it. Remember is but a whisper and that God gives a choice. He also blesses weus must put ourselves in a us with position life; withto that gift comes hear what it isa plan. I encourage telling us. you to tap into what God has assigned you to do and enjoy a life full of purpose and promise.

Terry L. Watson Editor/Founder

Terry L. Watson 4

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HuamiMagazine.com

November/December 2014

www.huamimagazine.com Terry L Watson Publisher www.huamimagazine.com Editor In Chief Writer Ellen Richardson Terry L. Watson Terry L. Watson Writer Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Dorjea’ McClammey Writer Monica Montgomery Writer Writers

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CONTENTS

JULY/AUGUST 2022

ATLANTA

New Zion Worship Group

Stephen Robinson

On The Cover

Synergy Hospitality Group Daymain Smith

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MiZo Coffe

Marlessia Fontaine Yancey

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Little Miss Juneteenth

Sarayiah Johnson

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Love Monae’ Anthony

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Also Featured

Ava Smith She has spent her entire life and career serving and pouring into her community. Learn more about her journey. Greenville, SC

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Antonia Boayke Learn how she has created a space designed just for moms. Meet the founder of MomSpaceCo. Baltimore, MD

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Sawand Belcher This young man is committed to making change in his community. Learn more about how he is taking action. Greensboro, NC

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Atlanta - July/August 2022


Creating “Synergy” for African Americans in the Hotel and Hospitality Industry By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Daymain Smith Synergy is an interaction or cooperation giving rise to a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Attic Greek word συνεργία synergia from synergos, συνεργός, meaning “working together.” Wikipedia Daymain Smith is the founder and CEO of Synergy Hospitality Group, based out of Atlanta, Georgia. His mission is to help African Americans conceive and receive the wealth and authority that comes with not just living their dreams but owning them. Daymain is a living example of the adage, “the only time you see success before work is in the dictionary.” With the southern charm of this Mobile, Alabama native, Daymain makes living the dream look easy. Yet he will be the first to tell you it’s not. The hotel and hospitality industry is challenging, especially for people of color. “Despite African Americans making up 45% of the population in this country, we own less than .5% of the hotel and hospitality industry. I believe it is my calling to help change that,” Smith says as he discusses his plight and passion. Daymain plans to enlighten, educate, and model the road to ownership and financial freedom. Daymain grew up in a small urban community in Mobile, Alabama. He admits that there are many layers to the path that led him to where he is today. “I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. My parents split shortly after I was born, and my grandparents primarily raised me. So, for the most part, my story is a lot like most kids who live where I lived,” Daymain explains. “My father was a pastor, but my mother struggled with addiction. So I had a wide range of influences in my life, and from all of it, I learned that there isn’t anything I can’t have if I was willing to work for it.” Atlanta - July/August 2022

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“I’m not perfect, nobody is, but I don’t shy away from the fact that who I am in my faith is who I am in my company. I strive to do things the right way and make good choices when it comes to how I deal with my investments and investors.”

At fifteen, Daymain left his grandparents to live with his father. “I was about to turn sixteen when my grandparents kicked me out of the house. I went to live with my dad at a time when we both were in transition. We were trying to figure life out for ourselves and each other,” Daymain shares. After graduating high school, Smith attended Bishop State Community College. In 1998 Daymain attended the University of South Alabama, where he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha. He furthered his education at Louisiana State University. Daymain was always involved in one entrepreneurial or another, but it wasn’t until he found the world of hotels and hospitality that he found his niche. “In 2007, I had a magical moment, or rather my defining moment. It was during the 2007-2008 Final Four games when Atlanta’s first recorded tornado touched down. I was working at the Residence Inn Downtown Atlanta,” he says. According to WSBTV. COM, a powerful tornado caused widespread damage across Downtown Atlanta cutting a 6-mile path through downtown and causing significant damage, leaving mass destruction in its wake. “My hotel was horribly affected, and I had to do whatever I needed to help my guest. So there I was with a luggage cart with two guest, their luggage, and a piece of plywood, making my way down Peach Tree to the Westin Hotel. At that moment, when my natural response was to help people who needed me, I knew hospitality was where I was supposed to be. It’s my called place.” Synergy Hospitality Group is a faith-based company. Its business practices and principles are rooted in Daymain’s Christian beliefs. “I’m not perfect, nobody is, but I don’t shy away from the fact that who I am in my faith is who I am in my company. I strive to do things the right way and make good choices when it comes to how I deal with my investments and investors. I am happy to say that my partners and I are like-minded when it comes to that.” Daymain has had the opportunity to work in many different roles within the hospitality industry. In each position, he never second-guessed his called place. He learned that there is a right and wrong way to do everything. “I was blessed to have some fantastic mentors in my career. In fact, one of the partners in Synergy, Robert McCoy, was my General Manager at Premier Hospitality Solutions, Holiday Inn Orlando Airport, for several years. Bob was one of those guys who always made you feel like it was a partnership. I never felt like I was a subordinate to him. Bob has zero ego and never puts himself on a pedestal. He was a great mentor and now an invaluable friend and business partner because he showed me how to stay humble,” he says. With Robert’s mentorship, Daymain became GM for the Holiday Inn Orlando Airport, ultimately leaving to become Regional Manager over a chain of thirteen hotels.

The book featured, How To Buy A Hotel, is written by Davonne Reaves 8


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Obstacles are essential to everyone’s journey, and Daymain is no exception. As Smith continued to excel in the hotel and hospitality industry, he couldn’t ignore the absence of men and women who looked like him. On the rare occasions he did, he found himself on a detour. “I try to learn something from every experience. Even if that is simply what not to do,” Smith says with a laugh. “I’ll just say I worked for an owner who wasn’t setting the right example of what ownership should look like or be about. As a result, I was terminated from that position, which was painful, but by the grace of God, I was able to shift. God allowed me to see that it was all working for my good. I knew I wasn’t going backward because my Father in Heaven didn’t create me to be average.” Daymain and his wife created a car parking business. He says, “Following God, I made six figures parking cars!” According to Merriam-Webster, disenfranchised means to be deprived of some right, privilege, or immunity. After years of working in the hotel and hospitality industry, Daymain saw himself as part of the disenfranchised. He realized there was a missing component that had been out of reach for him and others like him. It was Ownership. “That disenfranchised component made me realize that my people were disenfranchised in the hospitality industry. I had learned the business inside and out and loved it. I was passionate about it but didn’t know how to own it. Again, African Americans represent less than .5% ownership in this industry. Once I understood what that meant, I finally understood my purpose. My purpose was not just to become an owner, but to become an educational conduit for people who look like me in hospitality investment and ownership,” he says. Synergy Hospitality Group was birthed out of one simple premise. “If I can do it, you can too.” “When I realized that I knew just as much if not more than the guys I was working for, it didn’t make sense to continue as an employee. I knew I was built for better, and that’s what I want to pass on to my people,” Daymain shares. Synergy Hospitality Group is ultimately an educational platform and resource to get African Americans to invest in the hospitality industry. “I want to help anyone ready to believe they are built for more. I had to learn the ownership side of hospitality. I have been blessed to have a great friend and mentor, Omari Head, the “Hip Hop Hotel Broker,” as a great connection and one of my biggest supporters. He has opened doors and helped me make connections I couldn’t have made alone. Because I know the value of open doors, I want to help others come through.” he explains.

www.synergyhospitalitygroup.com 202-350-1151

Daymain believes that with the help of his forwardthinking business colleagues, Elise Capital Hotel Investment Advisory and Davonne Reeves, author of How to Buy a Hotel, he can inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. He aspires to teach them how to move past just wanting to make money but see themselves as worthy, capable, and qualified to own their future. “The greatest compliment I’ve ever received was when a young black high school student told me he wanted to be a business and hotel owner like me when he grew up. I knew then that he could see himself as more than what society wanted to label him. I felt like he was waking up to the knowledge that he was built for more,” he says. h

www.synergyfinancialpartnersinc.com info@synergyfinancialpartnersinc.com 202-350-1151 11


MiZo Coffee Co. 12

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Marlessia Yancey For most adults, a good and flavorful cup of coffee is an integral start of each day. Without the routine robust boost, things may appear to happen as planned. Fortunately, there is a Conyers, GA based coffee maker who is committed to satisfying the taste buds and cravings of avid coffee connoisseurs. Marlessia Fontaine Yancey is the founder of Mizo Coffee Co, Inc. Named after her two granddaughters, Mila and Zoie, Marlessia’s company is focused on producing quality products for everyone to enjoy. Marlessia was born and raised in Martinsville, VA, to Marvin and Mary Fontaine. She says that after losing her parents, she decided to honor their wishes and continue building her brand and coffee business. “At MiZo Coffee Company, we aim for a clean, rich, and balanced taste in every cup. Our coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans, which gives the brewed coffee a full body, fine aroma, and rich flavor. Our objective is to create the perfect experience,” she shares. Mizo products consist of 12oz bagged coffee (Regular/Decaf/French Vanilla/ Hazelnut) as well as a few retail items. They also offer hot and cold coffee, and a warm smile. Marlessia’s journey to becoming the owner of MiZo Coffee Company began early. She says, “I have been drinking coffee since I was about three years old. I didn’t drink milk as a child. Instead I loved sitting with my grandmother, drinking sips of coffee with her,” she says. “I wasn’t actually drinking coffee, but I thought I was. My grandmother would warm my milk and mix a spoonful of coffee in it to change the taste to get me to drink my milk.” As Marlessia grew older, she had the opportunity to interact with her mother and her aunts while they visited Marlessia’s grandmother on their weekly Wednesday night meet-up. “I was not old enough to be in the kitchen with them; however, I anxiously waited by the kitchen door, anticipating the invite in for a piece of cake or pie. Of course, nothing goes better with coffee than cake or pie.” Marlessia says what she loves most about her business is seeing the look on her customer’s faces when they try MiZo for the first time or one of their specialty coffee drinks.

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Losing both of her parents was quite a difficult period in Marlessia’s life. She credits them both with impacting her life in two different ways. “Dad was always the hardworking father who made many sacrifices to ensure his family had the things they wanted and needed. He had a way of talking to me that was stern, enlightening, and encouraging. He often spoke of challenges on his jobs to shed some light on my obstacles. My mom was a kind-hearted disciplinarian. She had an inviting smile coupled with a warm embrace that left you feeling empowered. They both pushed me to set goals, and live out my dreams,” she shares. While MiZo’s brand of coffee is proven, the journey has come with a few challenges. One Marlessia points out is with her company being compared to the larger coffee houses. “I embrace this because I have an opportunity to educate on my brand, understand hidden expectations, and improve my offerings. Still, we can stand alone because MiZo is different. We provide an experience,” she says. Things are looking great for Marlessia and MiZo’s Coffee Company. Moving forward, she plans to open a full brick-and-mortar MiZo Cafe with unique offerings, accompanied by an atmosphere of family and community. Marlessia says the aroma of MiZo Coffee wafting will be the lure for families to come together for good times and bonding. The place to come where after the first sip, you find yourself reminiscing about some of your most treasured moments....Family Her advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is positive. “If you have a passion for something and feel strongly about it, do the research. Be prepared for negative encounters from people that don’t share your vision. Remember, it’s not their passion; it’s yours. Map out a plan. Create an outline or road map to follow and collect data points along the way. The information you collect along the way allows you to monitor and make a change as needed. Most of all, don’t quit and tell yourself every day, “ I got this!” To learn more about MiZo Coffee Company Inc., please visit their website. h

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MomSpace&Co, Inc Antonia is Boayke of Baltimore, MD describes herself as a caring and fun-loving person. She is a wife and mother to three beautiful kids. Amongst all of her responsibilities, she has enjoyed a career as a professional hairstylist for almost 12 years. As life has continued to happen for Antonia, many opportunities have also presented themselves to her. One is the host of a podcast called MomSpace&co. “I am a hairstylist turned podcast host. I love to laugh and enjoy good company, but resetting and self-care are vital in my everyday life. MomSpace&co provides a platform for me to do that,” she shares. A mother, wife, and everything else in between, Antonia says her passion for helping others provided a path to helping mothers. She shares, “Having a village is vital for our children and the mom. Our mission is to assist in each phase of motherhood by providing resources, sharing our knowledge, and making connections throughout the community.” The podcast started in 2017 with a focus on bringing moms together to have the “taboo” conversations about motherhood and life. “We’re a nonprofit organization that moms exactly where they are; in motherhood, business, and through conversation and community. Antonia is inspired mainly by people, and she is always looking for opportunities to serve, offer solutions, and give back.

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Antonia Boakye

Having a village is vital for our children and the mom. Our mission is to assist in each phase of motherhood by providing resources, sharing our knowledge, and making connections throughout the community.

Antonia says she loves what she does and wouldn’t change a thing about the process to get to this stage in her life. “Coming from a place where I had little to no experience operating a business put me in a position to learn and grow personally and professionally. It has helped me to become who I am today,” she says. As she looks toward the future, Antonia says she plans to receive whatever God has in store for her. “I pray it’s more meaningful connections and continued support from our community for our mission. I also hope to grow more,” she says. Her advice to others sitting on a dream or facing a similar path that she has traveled is simple. “Don’t give up. It seems so cliche, but persistence and diligence will get you where you once dreamed of seeing yourself. It’s no easy road, but it’s worth it. Also, don’t forget to celebrate yourself and the milestones you reach, both big and small!” To learn more about Antonia Boayke and MomSpace&co, please visit their website. h

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Pastor

New Zion Grove Worship Center By Ellen Richardson Photos Provided by Pastor Stephen Rohinson

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15 KJV)

Have you ever felt a calling from our Heavenly Father that didn’t align with the path you thought you were on? Allow us to welcome you to an area pastor who has walked this path and is here to tell you why following your heavenly calling will lead you towards your best life. Born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Pastor Stephen Robinson grew up the youngest child of a faith-filled family of five. He was raised by Pastor Emeritus Ulysses, Jr. and the late First Lady Emeritus Lee Ella Robinson, and began his spiritual journey on a more musical path than that of his father. “As I was growing up, I used to tell my father that I would never preach or pastor,” said Robinson. “Instead, I wanted to sing and perform at various gospel revivals.” This dream began when Robinson was the tender age of three years-old. “My brothers and I performed together at my father’s church revivals. In fact, I sang my first song in front of a large crowd before the age of five. Before long, I was singing regularly at my church, and by the time I was getting out of college, I began singing with a gospel group called Purity.” he said.

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After Purity recorded its first album with PepperCo Records that reigns from Columbia, SC, Pastor Stephen rejoined his equally talented brothers, Bishop Kenneth L. Robinson and Ulysses Robinson, III. “I performed alongside my brothers for 15 years before going out on my own,” said Robinson. “After recording my first album called “I Still Have My Smile”, I really fell in love with the industry. That is until I had a personal encounter with God.” This encounter occurred in 1996 and Pastor Stephen says he was hanging out with his best friend one night when the Spirit of the Lord visited him. “The spirit told me that God had more for me than just singing and performing. He then showed me that he wanted me to preach His Word. This was around 1:00 a.m. in the morning and I remember getting up, driving to my father’s house, and falling into his arms, crying, telling him that I had been called to preach. The best part is that my father already knew I would come to tell him this because the Holy Spirit told him as well that I would be called to preach.” Following this encounter, Pastor Stephen went back to school to obtain his master’s degree in theology from Slidell Baptist Seminary, and later began serving as his father’s assistant pastor at New Zion Grove Baptist Church in 2004. This happened before he stepped into his father’s shoes in 2009. “In August of this year, I will have been serving my home church as its pastor for 13 years. I am so grateful to God for leading me into this role,” he said. Today, through his God given vision of Empowering People for Next Dimension Ministry, Robinson is making every effort to empower and lead his people towards God’s restorative love. “I love seeing people empowered and restored by His love and even seeing marriages restored by His power,” said Robinson. “I believe that God has ordained His people and their families to be empowered by His love in order to ensure that His might strengthens both our communities and churches. These days people need to see a picture of what

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“These days people need to see a picture of what a marriage and family look like inside of the church, and I believe that the enemy is very busy targeting these families because he knows that the stronger they are, the better the community, as well as the church and other ministries, will be.”

a marriage and family look like inside of the church, and I believe that the enemy is very busy targeting these families because he knows that the stronger they are, the better the community, as well as the church and other ministries, will be. As someone who knows the challenges that the enemy can have on both a marriage and family, it has been my mission to help these families be healed through God’s spirit of love.” What does the future look like for this servant of The Lord? “I aspire to lead my family and my flock by being the example of what it looks like to walk through trying and tough times with the help of God,” said Robinson. “I always say that the world may change, but God never changes, and I just want to show others what it looks like to lead knowing this.” To find out more about Pastor Robinson and New Zion Grove Worship Center, please visit their website. h

www.nzgworshipcenter.org

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I’m Here To Serve

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Latisha Miles

She is known for her unceasing devotion to serving others, an attribute the Upstate area of South Carolina has grown to cherish and appreciate. Without hesitancy, she eagerly answers the call to assist in any way, whether in business or from a personal perspective. In addition to leading and serving, Ava Smith is also an accomplished entrepreneur. She is the owner of Flat Fee Recruiting and Ava Smith & Associates. Flat Fee Recruiting is a permanent placement recruiting firm that provides quality employees at affordable rates. It also assists companies in various industries and with all types of vacancies. Ava Smith & Associates is a full-cycle HR Consulting firm that operates as an outsourced HR Manager or Director for small businesses, non-profits, and ministries throughout the United States. Some offered services include onboarding, compliance, benefits, risk management, wellness, and training. The New Jersey native holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Human Resource Management from Limestone University and is a Lifetime Member of the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society. She has over 25 years of experience as a Human Resources Professional. That includes employee relations, compliance, recruitment, retention, and training. Ava began her career in the non-profit sector and shifted into manufacturing, the corporate arena, and staffing. Throughout her career, Ava progressively moved upward in her positions, serving in various roles from HR Assistant to HR Director. In August 2002, Ava began her own firm, HR Specialties, which specialized in providing HR services, training, and recruiting. She later expanded this firm by adding additional experts and rebranded it into what is now widely known as Ava Smith & Associates. In 2010, she formed a permanent placement agency called Flat Fee Recruiting. Her agency received the Minority Business of the Year Award in 2013 through the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. Ava is also a noted Diversity Trainer and has delivered hundreds of sessions throughout the Southeast since 2005. Her clientele involves corporations, manufacturers, non-profits, service organizations, government officials, municipalities, universities, hospital systems, local chambers, and faithbased organizations. Ava is known for her unique style and approach that captures her audience’s attention, allowing them to discuss diverse topics easily. Even more, she was the Recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Diversity Award, given by the Greenville, SC Chapter of SHRM.

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Ava has served the Upstate of South Carolina in various roles, including current Board Member with the Simpsonville Area Chamber of Commerce, current Board Member with The University Center of Greenville, Board Member with Greenville Technical Charter High School, Board Member with Junior Achievement (Greenville, SC), Diversity Director of the SC Society of Human Resource Management State Council, Advisory Board Member with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Steering Committee Member with the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Advisor with Greenville Chamber of Commerce CAPACITY Builders program, Chair with Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s Greenville Women at Work (GW@W) initiative, Advisory Board Member for Virginia College, Advisory Board Member for ECPI School of Technology, Board Member for the Greenville Society of Human Resource Management (GSHRM), Chair of the Diversity/Inclusion Committee for GSHRM, President of the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Greenville, Board Member of Fostering Great Ideas, Advisory Board Member for Clemson Small Business Development Center, Steering Committee Member for MLK Dream Weekend, a member of the Clemson CU-ICAR Diversity Committee, and member of the Greenville Technical College Multicultural Advisory Board. These accomplishments and contributions have resulted in her being honored extensively. How did Ava get to where she is now? She says, “I originally started my career in accounting. After obtaining a two-year certificate, I became a bookkeeper for a large finance company. I thought I was destined to have a 10key calculator under my hand until I retired. However, a restructure left me without a position. As a single mom, I had no choice but to pursue any vacancy I could find to make ends meet. After searching for several weeks, I found a position at a local non-profit that would change the trajectory of my life.” Her career in HR began when Ava was only 24 years old. “At that time, the industry called it the “Personnel Department”. My job description had two line items. I was to pass out applications and answer the phone. I was unsatisfied with those simple tasks and began asking for more responsibility. A year-and-a-half later, I was the HR Manager of a facility with 400 employees. As my career continued, I would eventually hold HR roles in various industries,” she says. Ava says while serving in her previous HR roles, she realized a common need for employees accompanied by the inability of their small budgets to cover the cost of staffing. To address this, in 2009, she launched Flat Fee Recruiting. When asked what she loves most about what she does, Ava shares how she loves bringing solutions. “I am a problem solver for businesses that need HR support without having the workload that requires a full-time position. I also love being a part of their business strategy team. My clients include me in their vision and long-term plans, and I assist them with walking it out,” she says.

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Ava shares how she finds inspiration in her children and grandchildren. “I always want to be their role model, and knowing they look to me as an example pushes me not to give up. I am also inspired by my father, who recently passed away. He left such a feeling of “legacy” that it has shown me that I am not only working for what is in front of me, I am also working for what I plan to leave behind,” she says. Becoming an entrepreneur, Ava says, was not something she had planned to do. “I was not prepared, and I had to identify training and learning opportunities to gain knowledge on how to be successful. I was challenged by having to build a network with other business owners and people that could support me on this journey. Being open-minded and believing that failing could still be a form of winning helps me overcome challenges on a daily basis.” For anyone who is considering starting a business, Ava offers some advice that may be of assistance. “Knowledge is power. If you are pursuing entrepreneurship, take business courses, be aware of what your legal and financial obligations will be so that you will be prepared. If you are currently in business, continuously find ways to stay innovative and an expert in your field. Choose yourself even when you feel like no one else will.” Please visit her website to learn more about Ava Smith and her companies. h

Ava Smith & Associates Ava@YourFullCycleHR.com 864-448-0939

Flat Fee Recruiting www.flatfeehiring.com 864-326-4211

Celebrating Fifteen Years of Acknowledging Black Excellence

2007 - 2022


Baby MAGAZINE

Cutest Baby

Love Monae’ Anthony The daughter of Alneshia Torian

Atlanta - July/August 2022

To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to huami.cutestbaby@gmail.com

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Sawand Belcher This Is Me Taking Action By Back the Block

By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Tory Bass Sawand L. Belcher is the founder of Belcher & Belcher Properties, LLC, also known as Buy Triad Homes. Sawand and his wife LaMicah have five children, with number six on the way. Don’t be fooled by his easy-going casual demeanor; Sawand is serious about leveling the real estate field. He makes buying and selling real estate look easy. After building his company from the ground up, Sawand is ready to show just how easy it is to own our future. His real estate coaching services, This Is Me Taking Action, will show you step by step how to navigate the world of real estate, and you’ll be making a profit in no time. Sawand learned early in life that anything worth having is worth working for. “I’ve always been a great salesman. I remember when I was in sixth grade, my dad told me I couldn’t have something. But he said I could have whatever I wanted if I had my own money. So, I went over to his computer and came up with the catchy phrase, Wan’s Lawn & Dog Sitting Service. I made some flyers and started cutting people’s grass. I did that all the way through high school.” Sawand went to college at North Carolina A&T, where he studied political science, but in his senior year, his life took a new direction. “I loved my time at A&T. I studied political science not because it was my passion but because my parents wanted me to. My aunt, Hon. Romonda Belcher was the first African American female judge in Iowa. My parents wanted me to follow in her footsteps. But in my senior year, I found out I was going to be a father. That changed everything.”

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Sawand, always the entrepreneur, bought his first car by buying auto parts online and selling them locally. With him and his partner expecting their first child he had to shift things into high gear. “I left A&T fourteen credit hours short of my degree and got a job. I had new responsibilities, and those came first. That’s just how God made me,” Sawand explained. “Since I was familiar with car parts, and always liked cars, I went to a car dealership and applied to become a car salesman. I was hired on the spot.”

“We were going out to bars and clubs and spending the money just as fast as I could make it. The finance manager told me I should find a place to put my money. He suggested I buy a house.”

With mentorship from his GM and sales manager, Sawand did well. Selling cars came easy to Sawand, and in less than seven months, he had made over $100,000.00. “I had an amazing leadership team at Crown Honda. Scott Bisbee was my GM, and Mike Hilton was my sales manager. They were teaching and mentoring, not just me but everyone. I learned so much about business and sales from them, which served me well.” The next step in Sawand’s journey would take him from making money, which he found easy to do, to having and investing money. “So, there I was, making money hand over fist, and one day one of the financial managers at the dealership asked me what I was doing with my money. I told him I was spending it,” Sawand said, laughing at his younger self. “We were going out to bars and clubs and spending the money just as fast as I could make it. The finance manager told me I should find a place to put my money. He suggested I buy a house. I had every excuse in the book. ‘I have bad credit,’ ‘I don’t have any money,’ ‘Nobody will lend a young black man money.’ You know those kinds of things. But the sales manager told me to go to the bank and at least see what they would give me.” To Sawand’s surprise, they offered him a $120,00.00 loan. He didn’t take the first offer, but that helped him see that getting a loan and buying a home wasn’t so far out of reach. As a surprise for his girlfriend, Sawand purchased their first house. But the surprise was on him. “I wanted to show LaMicah that I was ready to be responsible, so I surprised her with a house. She surprised me by saying she didn’t want to move in. I tried to back out of the sale but couldn’t, so we ended up renting the house out. It wasn’t a lot at first, but it got me thinking. This was when I got the concept of real estate investing.” Sales-based employment means that you get a percentage of what you sell if you make a sale. This means if you make a sale, you get paid, but if you don’t, you don’t get paid. Sawand realized that with his rental property, he had regular income regardless of what kind of sales day he had. “When we bought our second house, we looked at off-market or unlisted properties. LaMicah and I were looking at a house and knocked on the neighbor’s door to see if they had any information on the owner. The woman invited us in and asked us what we thought about her house. We looked at each other and said it was cool, but we were looking for info on the house next door. The woman asked if we would make an offer on her house.”

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By the time the couple left the woman’s house, they had agreed to purchase the woman’s home for one-third of its market value. Sawand and his family live there to this day. With his new appreciation of being a property owner, Sawand decided to buy another off-market home. “Once we completed renovations on this house, I immediately started looking for the next one. I found a vacant house at the end of the street. I go the house under contract for $45,000. Like the first two, I didn’t have the money. I go to the bank, but this time they turn me down because I have two existing loans out. I had a debt-to-income problem. I started to get depressed because I had contracted to buy this house and couldn’t. So, I went to church. A friend from church, James Cox, said did you know you could sell the paper? I had no clue of what that meant.” Sawand learned that because he had a signed contract on the property, he could sell it to someone who had cash looking to buy properties. He shares, “I sold the paper for $1,000.00 nonrefundable upfront and was promised another $4,000.00 at closing. I made $5,000.00 and didn’t spend a dime. I realized I didn’t need money to buy real estate. I was like, ‘I’m in!’” Sawand has purchased over three hundred houses now. One thing Sawand says that has helped him find his path is his faith and trust in God. “When I started making money from real estate, a co-worker from the dealership said I should quit my job. I wasn’t ready to take that risk. But three weeks later, I decided it made sense. Yet it was still a difficult decision. I worried about failing. I didn’t want to let my family or myself down. I knew I could depend on my job, but I had to trust the one who made me.” Sawand used his faith as the foundation for running his business which led to financial, personal, and spiritual growth. As his business grew, Sawand understood the need for training. He was a great salesperson and was making great strides in the real estate market, but what he didn’t know was how to run a business. “I took a course from Carlos Rayez out of Arizona. He taught me how to organize, when to hire, who to hire, and basically how to run a successful and profitable business. Now I have ten amazing employees, and we work well together as we move the business forward.” Over the years, Sawand had learned a lot about the real estate business and mastered strategies and skills that helped him succeed. His goal now is to pass that on. “My program, This is Me Taking Action, is about helping people take ownership of their lives and their future one block at a time. The cost of the program is so low because I have a target audience—young, Gifted, and Black. I want young black men to know they don’t just have to rep their neighborhood. They can literally own it. We can create generational wealth today for ourselves and those around us,” he says. h

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Juneteenth Pageant and Gospel Celebration “Featuring Little Miss and Junior Miss Juneteenth Pageant” Information and Photos Provided by Linda Greenwood

UCON and WSPAA crowned the winners of the inaugural Little Miss and Junior Miss Juneteenth Pageant. Participants in the Little Miss Juneteenth Pageant are girls ages 7-10 years old and girls ages 11-14 years old for the Junior Miss Juneteenth Pageant from various cities throughout the state. “The pageant is designed to provide the girls with soft skills necessary to be well rounded and successful in life as well as building their confidence and offering encouragement”, says Linda Greenwood, UCON director. To enter the pageant the girls had to have a 2.0 GPA and participated in special sessions in haircare, journaling, presenting on camera, Juneteenth history as well as fundraising. Along with the pageant WSPAA executive director Elliott Lowery and UCON director Linda Greenwood put together a special Gospel Celebration that highlighted the rich heritage of the African American culture on Sunday, June 19th in Greensboro at the Van Dyke Performing Arts Theater. This event featured an incredible line-up of regional and local artists. Storyteller Fred Motley, renowned contemporary gospel artist W.I.L. and gospel rappers Ezzy Wall and Mr. GP.

Saraiyah Johnson Little Miss Juneteenth High Point, NC

Serenity White Little Miss Juneteenth 1st Runner Up Winston Salem, NC

Joie Holding Junior Miss Juneteenth Greensboro, NC

During their year long reign Little Miss and Junior Miss Juneteenth are expected to promote positive images through school appearances and community events and serve as a role model and spokesperson for Juneteenth. The winners of the Little Miss and Junior Miss Juneteenth Pageant are: Little Miss Juneteenth representing High Point is Saraiyah Johnson, the daughter of Michelle and Tacuma Johnson, Saraiyah attends The Point, College Prep and Leadership Academy. 1st runner up Little Miss Juneteenth representing Winston-Salem is Serenity White, the daughter of Victoria Montgomery, Serenity attends Ward Elementary. Junior Miss Juneteenth representing Greensboro is Joie Holding, the daughter of Tiffany Donnell and Daniel Holding, Joie attends Morehead Elementary. UCON and WSPAA are 501c3 organizations. Unwind Communications Outreach Network (UCON’s) mission is to raise the awareness of community residents on the benefits of collaborating with communication venues; to disseminate information pertaining to Broadcasting; teach people about broadcasting; to develop Musical artists through training and to inform the community about how communication technology works. The mission of the Winston-Salem Performing Arts Alliance (WSPAA) is to inspire, uplift and educate underserved children, youth, adults, and seniors. We seek to build the self-esteem and self-worth of the communities we serve through the performing arts. h

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At In the Key of Dance Studio, we are committed to increasing and encouraging the physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being of each dancer. Our goal is to honor our commitment through quality technique, dance education, and dance instruction in a safe and family-oriented atmosphere. Our vision not only creates a new generation of confident individuals who will develop a positive level of self-respect, self-confidence, and a strong commitment to themselves and others but also understand the power of giving back. Also, our goal is to teach them to learn not only the value of human kindness but lifelong lessons and success. It’s more than dance!!

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