God Is A Much Better Driver Than I Am
There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!
What if? That thought comes to mind when I consider what my life could be. What if I didn’t live in a particular city, or attend a certain high school? What if I had chosen a different career path or traveled a different road in life? What if I had never applied action to my dream? What if God didn’t choose me to be paired with His vision?
A Letter from the Editor
What if tomorrow didn’t arrive? All of your plans, hopes and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired today? What would you do?
I will be the first to admit that my life has been anything but simple. For the most part, it has been full of winding roads and quite noisy at times. The love and encouragement of my mother, grandmother, and others surely help to soften me; I surely miss my grandma. Yet, the storms and shortcomings I’ve endured have done their job and toughened me a little.
I have learned that my peace lies in the space between the good times and bad times, and for me to enjoy and experience peace, I must work for it. I have also learned that life will get tough, and when we get knocked down, God doesn’t expect us to stay there. There are lessons in all experiences, and getting up and trying to get it right again is part of God’s lesson.
I’ve been told that I often seem like I do too much. Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me that I couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonder how life would be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity is a blessing that isn’t afforded to everyone. A challenge to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in return acquire life.
There was a point in my life when I didn’t know if I was coming or going. With every move I made, it was the wrong one. There were also times when I would move or react to whatever thought came into my mind. Again, that turned out to be the wrong thing to do. My point is everything I had done, I did it without seeking guidance from God beforehand. I was driving my own ship, yet I was going nowhere and fast.
Terry L. Watson Publisher
Terry L. Watson Writer
Ellen Richardson Writer
Dorjae’ McClammey Writer Still Shots Photography Photographer Santana B Photography Photographer Todd Youngblood Photographer
Todd Youngblood Photography
Howard Gaither Photography
The best advice ever given to me happened when someone told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only hope provided. I have also learned the difference between what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and when to be quiet, because someone may get it confused with being arrogant.
While I made a mess of my life, God was there, like He always has been. He allowed me to make those bad decisions and provided grace to ensure I would survive them. During the times when I continued to make the same mistakes over and over again, God continued to cover me because there was a lesson that I needed to learn.
Make you tomorrow happen today, but most importantly make it count.
Life is but a whisper and we must put ourselves in a position to hear what it is telling us.
Despite everything I have experienced thus far, God has been right there with me. When it appears things aren’t moving fast enough, I know that God is governing the speed at which things are happening. When we get in God’s way, we block Him from blessing us. Get out of God’s way and allow God to drive. You might just learn that life is a lot easier from the passenger seat.Terry L. Watson Editor/Founder Terry L. Watson
Entrepreneur, Speaker, and AuthorBy Terry L. Watson
When it comes to business, Wanda Childs of Washington, DC, knows something about it. She shares that her desire for independence was evident at a very young age.
Today, Wanda is the owner of several businesses. These are Printing Express & Designs, LLC, Blessed 24:7® Gift Shop, and Blessed 24:7 Foundation, Inc., Mentoring Program. Her printing company was launched in 1995 and still operates with the motto “We help YOU Brand YOUR Brand”. They can accomplish this with custom-printed promotional and marketing products. There are over 300,000 blank products, and Wanda works with over 500 factories.
Her second company was launched in 1996 as a retail business and exclusively online. Fourteen years later, Wanda opened a retail brick-and-mortar location. Thirteen years passed, and she says God told her to move everything from the building and return to an online operation. The Blessed 24:7® brand consists of inspirational and motivational retail merchandise that makes perfect gifts for friends and family. This brand is sold in nine different languages and has reached several other countries.
With her third company, Wanda serves as President and Founder of a Mentoring Program, a (Non-profit 501c3 organization), and mentors youth and adults. She also conducts training seminars on entrepreneurship, titled, How to Start YOUR Business From Ground Zero. She also teaches another seminar on Self-Publishing, titled, How To Write YOUR First Book). She has also published her own book, Pushed Into My Purpose, which is her testimony on how God moved her from a place of fear to victory after being fired from her corporate job with 21 years of service. “I learned that being fired was part of God’s plan for the journey I’m on now,” Wanda says.
“I learned that being fired was part of God’s plan for the journey I’m on now.”
Wanda’s beginnings are a testament of her fortitude and determination to succeed. She says, “I started my printing company out of the need for additional income. As a single parent and owning a home, the paycheck from my day job was not enough to make ends meet. I started Blessed 24:7® out of passion, and the desire to inspire and motivate others. Starting my mentoring program happened after people in my circle wanted to know what I did to get my business legally set up and registered. I started having training sessions at my home with friends and family. After becoming an official IRS-approved Nonprofit 501c3, I was invited to teach seminars at Colleges, Schools, Corporations, Churches, and more”.
All of Wanda’s companies began from scratch. From scratch, this means that she had minimal resources or startup funding; however, God was there, serving as the source of her inspiration. While being a business owner, author, mentor, and motivational speaker, Wanda says her relationship with God is important. “I’m a faithful believer in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” she says. Wanda is also a mother of one adult son who she describes as incredibly smart, handsome, and independent.
Reading and studying God’s word every single day is something that Wanda says inspires her. “His word keeps me grounded and focused and give me hope for my future and my loved ones. Even more, knowing that my immediate family has my back and they will not allow me to fail and never allow me to give up, is powerful.”
Challenges in business are to be expected, yet Wanda says she feels as if she’s had more challenges than anyone else. “With each challenge I was faced with, God provided a way around, over and through the challenge. It’s like the challenge caused me to rethink or change my direction and helped me see a better way and better opportunities.”
Wanda describes how some friends and family didn’t support her as she thought they would. Life still went on, and she no longer allowed that to bother her. She says, “God sends me total strangers who not only support me, they also become regular customers. Strangers have referred my businesses to their friends and family. I have learned that sometimes God’s blessings are packaged differently. Most importantly, I am grateful for everyone, friends, family, and strangers who support me.”
Looking ahead, Wanda says she plans to keep thriving and build a legacy that her family will be proud of and will also create generational wealth. Her advice to others thinking about starting a business is to be openminded to what your customer base might look like and not be surprised or disappointed if the people you think should be supporting you are not. “Know that God will send you blessings packaged differently than you expected. Love what you do and do what you love. Also, have the passion and drive to see your dreams all the way through, and do it with a spirit of excellence,” she says.
To learn more about Wanda Childs, please visit her website. h
The Black Pearl Nail AcademyBy Terry L. Watson Provided by Duriya Smith
Duriya Caldwell is the face and founder of The Black Pearl Nail Academy. Based in Memphis, TN, her company offers full-service manicures and education to individuals seeking to learn the discipline of manicuring. Duriya says it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, young or old; if you are looking to gain your manicuring license, The Black Pearl Nail Academy is the place to come.
Duriya is a current resident of Memphis. She is a proud HBCU graduate and has a masters in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Duriya’s love for nails began when she was only twelve years of age. “I started doing nails using the fake nails that were included in my easter basket. They were the stick on nails, but that is how I started. I played with my mom and sister’s polish, and it grew from there,” she says.
Early on, Duriya says she wanted to open her own school, but the process to own one wasn’t available, mainly due to the way the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology classified manicuring. The board required anyone who wanted to own a nail school would have to do it combined with a barber school or cosmetology school. Those two professions didn’t interest Duriya. Fortunately, in 2013, the laws and landscape changed, and the disciplines were able to be split. In 2018, she opened the doors to her school.
“I started doing nails using the fake nails that were included in my easter basket. They were the stick on nails, but that is how I started. I played with my mom and sister’s polish, and it grew from there.”
Duriya says she loves being a nail technician as well as being a business owner. “I love creating ten works of art on the hands of my clients,” she says. “None of the work I do will ever be the same. Each experience is unique. I don’t repeat things. I don’t allow walk-ins, I only offer appointments. They have to set a date, and they have to decide what they want. Am I getting acrylic, gel, polish, or designs? When my clients sit in my chair, they hold my hand. We are on a date. When they get ready to leave, they have to book their next appointment. It’s like setting a second date. It’s a nailationship.” At the school of business, Duriya says she loves the ah-hah moments her students have once they grasp and understand the manicuring profession. “It’s a beautiful moment and everybody has it,” she says.
Duriya credits her mother with inspiring her to become the savvy businesswoman she is today. Her mother, who is also a licensed cosmetologist, didn’t want Duriya to become a cosmetologist. She pushed her to attend college and follow a different path than she did. Well, things have a way of working out. Today, her mother is the current dean of The Black Pearl Nail Academy. Duriya also credits her godmother with having a positive impact on her life. “My godmother is a cosmetologist and owned a hair salon. While I was getting ready for my sixth-grade graduation, I went to the salon with my mom for the first time. When I walked in, my world brightened up. So many things were happening there, but the nail tech was in the front. I was intrigued and my godmother knew it. She asked the nail tech to teach me how to do nails. I would eventually work at the salon while learning, and soon I would get my license, and the rest is history,” Duriya says.
Duriya shares that she is an introvert at heart, something one might find quite interesting, as her chosen profession requires her to interact with people regularly. “Interacting with people is challenging. Learning to be more social has been a challenge for me. I need to get out and share more information about what I do, but talking with others about it is challenging. Not being able to talk to others in some ways holds my business hostage, and I don’t want to do that,” she says.
Looking ahead, Duriya has plans to expand her current operation. Their current location is only 1200 square feet; however, she has set her eyes on a 12,000 square feet facility. There will be a school on-site, as well as office space for students. There will be salon suites for nail techs, laundry and towel cleaning services for the students, and open floor space for events. “Our new facility will be for the community. I am designing this new location for those who have given so much to me,” she says.
To learn more about The Black Pearl Nail Academy, please visit their website.
It’s Music, Love and ServiceBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by James Lonnie McFadden
James Lonnie McFadden III of Kansas City, MO, is a second-generation Jazz guy, as his father, James “Smiling Jimmy” McFadden, was a great tap dancer during Kansas City jazz’s heyday (the 1920s and 1930s).
James attended Lincoln High School and Penn Valley Community College; however, his musical, dance and entertainment education mainly came from his father. James says, “My father taught my brother and me a lot about the history of Kansas City jazz. We learned about people like Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and Count Basie at an early age. We also learned about Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, “Pops and Louie”, John Bubbles and Baby Laurence.”
James is partnering with The Ambassador Hotel in Kansas City, MO. In 2020, Paul Coury, the owner of the Ambassador Hotel, invited James to partner with him to open a jazz club on the lower level of his hotel. James says things went so well that Paul decided to name this jazz club after him, Lonnie’s Reno Club. “As the world was recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, I was invited to perform in the parking lot of The Ambassador Hotel. Paul was there the second night I performed and invited me to his table. He soon took me inside the hotel and showed me the vacant space on the lower level. He explained that he wanted to open a (1920s, 1930s / Prohibitions style) nightclub. He asked me a few questions about that era and if I could visualize something like it. Paul liked my ideas and enthusiasm as we both imagined the same kind of venue. And the rest, as they say, is history.
At Lonnie’s Reno Club, History Class & Kansas City Jazz is on full display. Lonnie’s Reno Club pays homage to the famous Reno Club of the 1920s & 1930s. James shares that the original Reno Club was located blocks away from their present location, at the corner of 12th and Cherry in Kansas City. Lonnie’s Reno Club is a one-of-a-kind venue. James says, “The experience starts when you drive up to The Ambassador Hotel. You are greeted by a gentleman to valet park your car, and then escorted into The Ambassador Hotel. You are guided to the circled staircase leading to Lonnie’s Reno Club. When you reach the lower level, you are greeted by a host or hostess and given a complimentary glass of champagne, all while being escorted to your table. On each table is a very elegantly stylized menu with fixed dinner prices. The show comes with a three-course meal and dessert.”
James shares how he appreciates the opportunities life has presented him. “I live in a constant state of gratitude. From my teenage years, I have always wanted to play music for a living, and for over 50 years, I am thankful to say that is what I do,” he says. “I’ve been inspired by classy entertainers, musicians, and actors like Sammy Davis Jr., Louis Armstrong, Nat “King” Cole, Marvin Gaye, and of course, my father. Amazingly, I have the opportunity to walk the same path they did. I am truly grateful.”
While things have been great for James, he shares his career has come with some unbelievable moments. “I think the most profound incident in recent years was when he accepted an offer to perform in the parking lot during the pandemic. That experience ultimately led to me performing in a nightclub named after me,” he says. As a professional entertainer/musician, there have been a few challenges and obstacles that James has encountered also. “There is no cookie-cutter way to make a living as a performing artist. I believe my love for what I do and a relentless desire to do it and a certain level have enabled me to continue my lifestyle.”
If all entertainers and musicians could share a journey like the one James has, who knows where the world of music would be? What began with a conversation has grown into him having his name adorn one of Kansas City’s brightest jazz houses. While some might call it luck, James calls it purpose, as he believes that he is walking in what he purposed to do.
As James looks forward, his goals are very simple. “I desire to be the best that I can be and give the best performance that I can give on any given night. I realized that my ability to play trumpet, tap dance, or sing alone would not make each night’s performance great. It takes more to make each night great,” he says. “Still, my ultimate goal is to create or facilitate a fun evening of live entertainment for everybody every night.”
To learn more about James Lonnie McFadden III, please visit his website.
I desire to be the best that I can be and give the best performance that I can give on any given night. I realize that my ability to play trumpet, tap dance, or sing alone would not make each night’s performance great.”
New Hope Christian AcademyBy Monica Montgomery
Sisters Kimberly Gegner and Alicia Williams-Clark are setting the standard in private Christian education in the Abington, Pennsylvania, area. New Hope Christian Academy is a private, faith-based school that services kindergarten through twelfth-grade students. New Hope offers small classroom sizes, which maximize personal attention--enabling students to reach their full potential.
“Our courses are designed to promote excellence. We are committed to offering the best and most advanced educational opportunities available. With our individualized, innovative curriculum, students progress at their own pace,” Alicia, one of the co-founders of NHCA, explained.
One primary truth proven over time is that great things are birthed out of need and adversity. Kimberly, a mother of five, wasn’t getting the support she needed for her oldest daughter Mary. “Mary came to our family through foster care and adoption. She was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiance disorder). Mary struggled in school. By the time my daughter was in eighth grade, she could no longer function in a traditional classroom setting. She acted out in every way possible, her grades were very low, and it got to the point that homeschooling was my only option. By this time, I had three children—Mary, her older brother, and at that time, a new baby. I knew I had to do something, but I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it alone. So, I called Alicia and told her what was happening, and she was immediately like, let’s do it together,” Kimberly shares. The sisters started a homeschool co-op based out of their father’s church.
During that time, Kimberly was in graduate school at Eastern University, working on a master’s in Urban Economics development. “While working on my master’s degree, I started to conceive of a Christian school that catered to non-traditional students who looked like us and was affordable on every budget. The school would have a holistic approach, focusing on mind, body, and spirit,” Kimberly explained. “This was different from any faith-based schools in Philly at the time.”
Understanding right away that their family wasn’t the only ones who needed the smaller non-traditional approach to education, applying her Economic development background, Kimberly and Alicia built a model of a Christian school that was funded by businesses instead of tuition. With their model in place, the sisters jumped in heart first. Now eighteen years later, the school is thriving and growing simply through word of mouth and having a reputation for excellence.
When the school started, Alicia didn’t yet have her bachelor’s degree, but both sisters received Ed.S. in their specified areas. Kimberly’s is in Educational Leadership, and Alicia’s is in Mathematics Education. Kimberly admits that the idea to open a Christian school was seeded with the vision of the church it was birthed from.
“Vision for the school is aligned with that of the church, which is very social justice oriented. We wanted to create a learning environment that would produce social capital, meaning active and productive community members. These students would help to build their communities from the inside out. Our curriculum isn’t just academics but also focuses heavily on character building. We wanted to make sure that the alumni of our school go on to improve and elevate society as a whole due to having had the New Hope Christian Academy educational experience,” Kimberly explained.
“New Hope Christian Academy is committed to educating each student’s mind, body, and spirit. We believe that the holistic education of children, with a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, will build strong people, families, and communities, ultimately changing the world,” Alicia shares. “From the start of the co-op, this has been our vision.”
When the homeschool co-op started in September 2004, it had five students. The following year they had seventeen students. “Initially, it was Kim’s oldest son and daughter and our three younger siblings,” Alicia explains. “We playfully called them the Fab Five because they were the first five students enrolled. But once people saw how it worked for them, word got around. Church members and other people we were affiliated with approached us about allowing their children to join, and things just grew from there.”
The school does very little advertising. Most of their students are word-of-mouth referrals. Part of the reason is that the NHCA experience isn’t for everyone. “We focus on students who don’t do well in the traditional school setting. There is an excessive amount of young black males who don’t excel in the traditional classroom. These students function much better in smaller focused groups where they can receive more individual instruction and move at a comfortable pace,” Kimberly explains.
Although NHCA is a private school, it is certified through the state and works in conjunction with the title 1 school district their students live in. Title 1 districts are known to have students who experience higher rates of economic hardships and childhood trauma.
“This is also why tuition is so low. We were taught that lack of funding should never keep you from making something happen. And in some cases, students may receive sponsorship. That is how we run our school,” Alicia explains.
In the eighteen years the school has been in operation, it has seen rough times, but that didn’t stop Alicia and Kimberly. “When we started the school, we only had five students, so it was no problem to house the school at the church. But when the school expanded, we quickly outgrew the small space the church provided,” Alicia said. “Our biggest obstacle has always been finding a building to house the school.”
At times the sisters had to take on other jobs to pay for facilities so they could hold classes. “Things were so bad at one point that we went without salaries. Thankfully we both have very loving and supportive husbands who believe in what we are doing,” Alicia shared. “We had to use our gifts and talents to keep the doors open,” Kimberly said jokingly. “I sold baked goods, and Alicia used her graphic designing degree to earn extra money for the school.”
At one point, NHCA had to fold into another local Christian school because they had no place to hold classes. “That was really hard, but we didn’t give up,” Kimberly explained. “I went with our students and taught at the new school, while Alicia went and worked a regular nine to five so we could regain our footing.”
One year later, the school reopened, and all of the original NHCA students returned. “The school administrator admitted that she tried to get some of the students to stay, but they weren’t having it,” she said proudly. “They all came back.”
Over the years, the enrollment for NHCA has fluctuated between thirty and sixty students. Currently, they have fifty students enrolled. The school employs seven full-time teachers, three part-time staff members, and one SEL counselor. Kimberly and Alicia also teach. Alicia works with Elementary students, and Kimberly works with Middle and High School students.
The most significant achievement Alicia and Kimberly like to recognize is when they can celebrate their alumni. “We host a New Year’s Breakfast and an end-of-the-year festival for our alumni every year,” Kimberly explained. “We have students who now have their bachelor’s and Master’s degrees who are coming back and working with us. That’s the social capital I was talking about,” she said proudly.
To hold true to its vision statement, NHCA will keep its enrollment at a maximum of sixty students. But they have been asked about expanding. “We have had great success with our students and the model that we use. I wouldn’t want to increase the class size. But we may open a second location using the same model,” Kimberly explained. “We have been contacted by several organizations asking us if we would be interested in setting up schools in areas like ours around the country. We’ve even been asked if we were going to write about what we’ve achieved. I can see us growing to around ninety to a hundred students over two campuses. I think that would be ideal for what we are attempting to maintain. Our current goal is to grow our staff. I used to love being in the classroom, but as I get older and the students seem to get younger, I see myself taking on more of an administrative role. I would be focusing on mentoring new teachers and staff development. It takes dedication, patience, and a calling to teach our children. I see myself helping to cultivate that in new teachers. I want to instill in them the New Hope Way.” h
Smart Technology CorporationBy DorJea’ McClammey Photos Provided by Christopher Jackson
He is described as someone who can make just about, well, anything! Christopher Jackson is the owner of Smart Technology Corporation. Based in Greensboro, NC, Smart Technology Corporation is leading the way in the areas of Precision Machining, Injection Molding, and Assembly Fabrication. They also offer various services, including engineering design assistance, reverse engineering, prototyping, and flexible, short-run production. Additionally, Smart Technology Corporation offers 3D scanning capability and can capture up to two million measurement points for a scanned subject, resulting in a precision of about 1.5 microns, or 0.00006 of an inch.
Christopher currently resides in the Triad area of North Carolina but was born and raised in Warsaw, North Carolina. He grew up playing baseball and was very good, so good that he had plans to play professionally. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Christopher became a victim of a crime that put him in a coma. When he came out of it, he was on disability for three years, and his doctors said he would be 80% medically dependent for the rest of his life. Christopher did not let this discourage him, and he continued to work hard and ultimately regained his mobility.
Now outfitted with a new lease on life, Christoper attended Guilford Tech Community College and received a degree in machinery technology. He also became a machinist and tool maker. After about eight years, he enrolled in North Carolina A&T State University and obtained his Applied Engineering degree. Christopher would later work in various industries, including medical, consumer goods, and automotive, gaining plenty of experience from processing tools, plastics, and materials. Soon he would begin to design his own tools.
Christopher worked as a senior engineer for a company that extruded rubber and helped them launch the X5, X6, and X7 BMW series. He was also working on the new X8 BMW when the Covid 19 pandemic hit, resulting in his being laid off.
At that point, Christopher was so tired of starting over. His wife, Jackie, encouraged him to start his own company, and on the 5th day in October 2020, Smart Technology Corporation was born. “Smart Technology Corporation is a place where we do everything smart. We use the best materials and employ the best people to produce products. Our motto is, “there is no wasted time with Smart Technology”. If you can imagine it, we can make it,” he says.
Christopher has customers from all over, including the medical field, consumer goods, the communication industry, and small and local businesses. “When you come to Smart Technology with an idea, no one is turned away. We can design, develop, mass produce, and market our client’s products. Any plastic or metal products, tools, pieces, big or small, we can make,” he says.
At Smart Technology Corporation, a culture of inclusiveness and teamwork has been established. By having those components in place, the feeling of ownership has been easily embraced by everyone. “I don’t say you work for me. You work with me,” says Christopher. “Having that type of work relationship creates a culture of loyalty within the business.”
What separates him from the competition? While getting certified, Christopher wanted to become a Minority Business Enterprise. That certification gives his company access to connect with other billion-dollar companies looking to work with minorities. By 2025, corporations will aim to do trillions of dollars in business with certified MBEs in America. While there are over 30,000 companies in the same industry, African Americans run only six, and Smart Technology is one of them.
Getting his footing in such an underrepresented industry has come with some challenges. One was obtaining capital funding and resources to buy the equipment needed to operate. With continued research, he was able to create a joint partnership with a company that already had the facility and resources.
Despite the challenges, Christoper highlights his family as the #1 inspiration that keeps him going. He aims to create a legacy for his kids that will give them financial independence. In addition, he wants to leave something as a reminder of who their father was and what he did.
Moving forward, Christopher plans to provide an opportunity to NC A&T and GTTC students affiliated with the applied engineering department. These opportunities include internships, co-ops, and job opportunities. The goal of Smart Technology Corporation is to become a billiondollar company with a true community impact. “Yet, the biggest dream is to be one of the first black billionaire companies in the United States of America or the world.”
Christopher’s advice for future entrepreneurs looking to follow in his footsteps is sensible. “If you want to start your own company, find a mentor, find someone willing to give you information, and how to do and what to do. I wasted time and money trying to do and learn everything simultaneously,” he says.
To learn more about Christopher Jackson and Smart Technology Corporation and all of the amazing services they provide, please visit their website. h
MAGAZINE Zoelle Alaiya Scott
To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to firstname.lastname@example.orgThe daughter of Charita Jackson
Love Operates In TruthBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Shuntina Manuel
To truly connect with your inner core, it requires you to be willing to be open with yourself. This means removing every layer and misconception and revealing some things you may have never thought about doing. This is a true example of self-truth. Minister Shuntina Manuel has done just that and allowed her life to serve as an example of God’s unwavering love for us all.
Shuntina is the founder of EMPOWER, formally known as Woman Be Transformed. Shuntina is a worshipper and firm believer in the word and power of God. As a pastor and mentor, she is committed to a lifestyle of service that promotes permanent change and enhanced authenticity. “My ministry did not begin with me saying I wanted to start a ministry. It began with God putting the vision in my heart. That vision was a women’s ministry that affirms all women. My passion will always be to utilize my experiences, insight, and influence to help others evolve into the best version of themselves,” she says. Her ministry is built on a foundation of empowerment, transcending gender, ethnicities, and generations; her only target is to redeem the lost through the demonstrated power of God’s love and restoration.
Shuntina is a native of Greensboro, NC. She is a women’s advocate and female minister who believes in educating, empowering, and equipping all women. Furthermore, Shuntina has been gifted by the grace of God to impact women from various walks of life.
It was in 2018 when Women Be Transformed came to fruition. The first event was held at the Spartanburg Marriott in Spartanburg, SC. Since evolving to EMPOWER, it has successfully reached and guided women to awaken healing, wholeness, and love for themselves and others. EMPOWER assists women in various transitions in their personal life; spiritually, socially and relationally.
Shuntina shares how she finds life in women who can be truthful with themselves. “I am most inspired by truth. I am inspired by strong women who are unafraid to speak the truth in love. This is not bitter, caustic, cutting, or polluted with sarcasm. It’s not judgmental arrogance, either. It’s a love encounter with other women who are focused on clearing the path for the next generation. It’s women who are not embarrassed or too proud, or afraid to share their stories. Women who invest their lives in others because they understand it’s not all about them,” she says.
What Shuntina loves most about EMPOWER is the ability of her ministry to serve as a safe place where women can support each other. The area of support that EMPOWER focuses on is developing an authentic relationship with Christ and one another through prayerful and intentionally planned events, including fellowship. She also shares that she finds inspiration in those who have shown unconditional love to her. These same individuals have significantly impacted her life and helped her become the woman she is today. These individuals include her mom, her dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and various family members and friends. She also acknowledges several mentors for pouring into her life and ministry. “A common denominator is that they have all loved me unconditionally and each reflects God’s Love for me,” she says.
Shuntina is hosting the Safe Room Experience at the Spartanburg Marriott in Spartanburg, SC in March. The event is FREE to attend and will include special guests Prophetess Kristy Lyles and Dr. Elisa Lashell Harney. Moving forward, Shuntina will continue to EMPOWER women to be the best version of themselves by providing a safe place for them to come and be free.
To learn more about The Safe Room Experience and other events Pastor Shuntina Manuel hosts, please contact her directly.
“It’s a love encounter with other women who are focused on clearing the path for the next generation. It’s women who are not embarrassed or too proud, or afraid to share their stories.
Women who invest their lives in others because they understand it’s not all about them.”
Gold Star Logistics Group Inc.By Dorjea’ McClammey Photos Provided by Tawana Randall
Tawana Randall will find a way to make it happen. That is for sure. In 2018, the native Floridian moved to Georgia in search of greater opportunities for herself and her family. While living in Miami, Tawana shares she saw generations of other black families loom in a cycle of self-sufficiency that only made others financially stable and secure. She was determined not to let that same cycle be the story of her life.
Tawana is a mom, entrepreneur, and owner of Gold Star Logistics. She has the brains to complement her business acumen, including two degrees and corporate America experience.
With Gold Star Logistics, Tawana offers full-service freight dispatch services. She also helps small carriers move their units daily. “We’re kind of like the travel agents of trucking. We help clients find the best truckloads and handle all the busy work, so drivers don’t have to. Our services help improve our clients’ profits. Most importantly, we aim to help carriers move more freight safely and cost-effectively daily,” she says. Gold Star Logistics also handles compliance. They are a TPA Consortium and provide coaching, mentoring, and business start-up assistance.
Tawana says her company is sort of like a response to a failed earlier attempt. She jumped into the transportation industry by purchasing a truck without industry knowledge. It was a learning and growing experience, and she shares, “Coming back into the industry, I wanted to learn it from the ground up instead of trying to do it backward,” she says. Tawana started with learning the basics of distributing, dispatching trucks, and moving vehicles. Once she clearly understood the transportation industry and learned how to dispatch different types of units, it was much easier for her to re-enter the industry a second time and grow her business.
“We’re kind of like the travel agents of trucking. We help clients find the best truckloads and handle all the busy work, so they don’t have to.”
So why the trucking industry? Tawana says she had always been fascinated with the industry. “We always see truck drivers, but I never really knew it was a space I could get into.” Once she started to learn more and get a glimpse into the industry, she became intrigued. “People don’t realize everything that goes into the industry, such as the back office aspects like dispatcher, broker, and insurance agent, and that is what I want to help others learn through my coaching and mentoring program,” she shares.
Her mentoring and coaching program helps those ready to take the big jump from having to do it alone. “I was in that space where I jumped in the industry with no education and couldn’t even find people to help me,” Tawana says. She aims to teach other women how to get into this space successfully. She made the mistakes so that others would not have to.
Tawana is also determined to take her place as a black woman in a male-dominated industry. “Where are the women in this industry, and how do we gain respect? How do we get into this industry without being frowned upon,” she asks. It was hard to constantly prove to others that she knew just as much as them and deserved to be in the same room. She continued to press and put the correct information out so others would notice her excellent work. “In the transportation industry, 20% of companies don’t make it past a year. I wanted to be on that other side. I did that by maintaining my business and continuing to learn everything I could.”
Despite all the obstacles Tawana has encountered, she remains committed to serving others. She confesses to loving the community she is building and is passionate about creating partnerships with local companies. Through these partnerships, she can provide supplies and sometimes a free course for some mentees who cannot afford it.
While building a reputable company is important, Tawana is focused on leaving a legacy for her family to enjoy. She says that showing her boys that opportunities are available to them and teaching them how to access and obtain financial freedom are some of the most important things to her. “I want my sons to see that their mom built this from the ground up, and they have the same opportunities also,” she says.
Regarding the future of Gold Star Logistics, they recently partnered with Clayton State University to provide a freight dispatching course, the only one that exists in the country. Students can learn everything they need to know and have their certification of completion from the university and Gold Star. Tawana says she plans to open a second location eventually. h