My Dreams Are Windows To My Freedom
There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!
I am a self-proclaimed dreamer. Many of the things I possess or may be involved with, at some point, I probably dreamed about it. Being physically fit, I dreamed about losing all the weight I was carrying around while stuffing my face with food. Singing in the church choir, I dreamed about it, while practicing in my car over one of WOW Greatest Gospel productions.
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?
In short words, I will typically act on something if I dare to dream about it. I have used the gift to dream while sinking in some of my lowest moments. I wanted more, and dreaming of something better made it almost feel like I was there. I learned that there is power in what we dream about.
Terry L. Watson Publisher
In that same breath, my dreams have been filled with thoughts of hope and sometimes regret. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would. If I could reverse some of the experiences of my life, I would. If I had the ability to reach back into my past and open some of the doors that were shut and close some that I walked through, I would. One might ask me why, and my response is quite direct; I would if I could.
Now, it’s not my intent to sound as if I do not appreciate the life God has blessed me with. My message is quite the opposite. I love my life and all that has helped to make it what it is. Still, I wish I could have avoided some unnecessary experiences. However, I am wise enough to know that everything has been necessary. It is all part of God’s plan for me.
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.
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.
Acknowledging and accepting where and how my life began instills a sense of reality into my heart. Dreaming of places where I wish I could be also encourages me to keep striving for that which is greater.
My message is simple. Life is but a whisper, and I refuse to get lost in the chaos and confusion. There is way too much for me to do, and if I never achieve all that I dream of, I will remain enthusiastic about what tomorrow promises. Tomorrow, if it comes, is provided by God. And when God blesses me with another day to live, He also blesses me with another day to dream and get to work.
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.Terry L. Watson Editor/Founder
Terry L. Watson Writer Monica Montgomery Writer
Dorjea’ McClammey Writer Joy Rogers Writer
Still Shots Photography Photographer Angela Maria Photographer
Todd Youngblood Photographer
Todd Youngblood Photography
Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography
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She continues to use her trajedy so help and serve others. Learn more about who she is.
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Speaking Life through Spoken WordBy Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Katherine Costello Photography
As children, we have all been asked that daunting question… “What do you want to be when you grow up?” If you had asked Kim, she might have said many things, but a Spoken Word Poet wasn’t it. Today she’s a published author, teacher, and mentor of poets young and not so young. Kim B. Miller is an award-winning spoken word poet and Prince Williams County’s first black poet laureate for 2020-2022. Kim B. Miller is a wife and mother of four who found her voice in poetry. Now, she’s inspiring others to do the same.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Roosevelt, New York, Kim’s childhood did not indicate who she would become.
“We lived in the projects of Bed-Sty, Brooklyn, New York. I was so young at the time that I don’t have many memories from then,” Kim shares. “I do remember that there was a chain-link fence in front of our building, and my parents constantly warned my sister, brother, and me not to jump over the fence. I was usually the hard-headed one, but my sister jumped the fence. She landed on her face, busted her mouth open, and knocked some teeth out. I remember having to run upstairs to get my mother. There was so much blood,” Kim recalls.
It’s usually rare and exciting or traumatic events that small children remember. In Kim’s case, it was the sight of her sister sprawled, bleeding and missing teeth, and the loss of her brother. “The other memory I have of that time was when my brother died,” Kim explains. “I was five years old, and I remember the long walk down the hallway towards the door where my mother stood screaming. I had never heard her scream like that before,” Kim shared. “I kept saying it’s okay, mommy. I didn’t know what she was screaming about, but I wanted her to feel better. Soon after that, we moved to Long Island.”
With Kim’s artistic prowess, you would assume that her gift and love for poetry were cultivated at a young age. That couldn’t be further from the truth. “My parents were amazing people, but they weren’t artists. My father was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Airforce, and my mother is a retired LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse),” Kim explained. “They were supportive, but I was never interested in being a poet. In fact, I didn’t read poetry before starting to write it.”
Growing up, Kim loved math, but not English. Spelling was her Achilles heel. “I was a wiz with math, but I was horrible at spelling as a kid. So, making a career as a poet, achieving Poet Laureate? No, not possible. It was the furthest thing from my mind,” Kim laughed.
After high school, Kim received a B.S. from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She majored in business and minored in retail management. Again, writing poetry was nowhere on her radar. Then divine inspiration hit. “I believe my gift and its timing came from Jesus, but I didn’t understand it then. I am a Christian, and I believe God is a poet,” Kim confesses. So, after hearing from God, she started writing. “I didn’t go to school for it. I didn’t research poetry or listen to poets like Nikki Giovanni or Maya Angelou. The only thing I recognized and appreciated as poetry were bible verses. So when God spoke, I started writing.”
The first time Kim shared her poetry, she decided to go big or go home. Kim took her faith in her new God-given talent to Harlem. “I went to a bookstore called Hueman Bookstore in Harlem. II felt like it was going to the Apollo for poetry at the time. Lots of people would have said, don’t do this! But this popped into my head, so I went for it,” Kim explained. “This wasn’t where you go up and read your poem and sit down. No, you received constructive feedback from the host. This isn’t the norm, but I thought it would be interesting.”
Having never experienced this kind of performance art, Kim was intrigued with the intimacy, and the connection the artist had with their audience. “Because it was a bookstore, and other things were going on, there was a lady behind me, and she talked to me the entire time I was up there,” she explained with a laugh. “She kept saying things like, ‘You betta tell ‘em, sis. You betta break that down.’ She actually made me laugh while at the same time helping me see that the things I was saying affected her. I connected with my audience, or at least that one person. That was encouraging to me.”
Fueled by the positive critiques she received from the host and the prodding of the audience, Kim fell in love with the Spoken Word artform.
A New Yorker at heart, Kim moved to Virginia in 1997 to give her family a fresh start. “My best friend moved down here first. She and I are virtually inseparable, so she started trying to convince me to move. At first, it was a hard no. She tried to entice me with the cost of living being so much lower here, but it could have been free at the time. I wasn’t moving!” Kim laughs, remembering how emphatic she was about not moving. After one visit, Kim was sold.
Continuing to explore the world of poetry as a spoken word artist, Kim did something else she thought she never would. She authored her first book. “In 2007, I wrote my first book called, ‘How to Love Your Kids, More Than You Hate That Man.’” As a divorcee with children, Kim encountered a lot of hurt and bitter women who were allowing their anger toward their ex’s to keep the fathers from their children.
“I would hear, he’s never gonna see these kids again, and bump him; they don’t need him anyway. I was like, hey, I get it. I didn’t want to see my exhusband at the time, but he still had kids, and they loved and had a relationship with their father. I wanted to let them know that their children aren’t pawns in their game of punishment,” she says.
As an outspoken advocate for parental rights, Kim works to help families understand their new normal. “I tell people, it’s not just about you. It feels that way because you are the one that was hurt, cheated on, or whatever the case may be. But when it’s all said and done, you must put the children first,” Kim shared. Including ‘How to Love Your Kids, More Than You Hate That Man,’ Kim has written five books. Three are poetry and one limited edition journal. All of which can be found on her website.
After moving to Virginia, Kim pursued her renewed passion for poetry. She started to study poetry in different genres. Spoken word poetry was a natural fit. “I enjoy the engagement and authenticity of spoken word poetry,” Kim explains. As a spoken word artist, Kim always sought opportunities to practice and hone her craft. She started studying poetry and its different genres when she found the Spirits & Lyric Poetry Slam.
“I’d never done a poetry slam before, but I saw it, and I was like, okay, let me try that. What can I say? I had this feeling I should go for it. To my surprise, I hit the trifecta. They listened, they got it, they liked it,” Kim explained. There were preliminary levels Kim had to win to earn a place in the poetry slam. As she progressed through each level, she had to pinch herself.
“It finally came down to just one other woman and me, and I didn’t expect them to call my name. So, when they did, I didn’t react. It took a minute for it to sink in. I didn’t win the actual slam because the poets I was up against were serious and seasoned, but sharing the stage with those amazing artists was worth every moment.”
Kim has won several awards and garnered accolades and recognition. She is a speaker and facilitator and is well known for her haiku. She is often called on to mentor young students in the local school system. But the accomplishment she cherishes most is becoming Prince Williams County’s first Black Poet Laureate.
“When I joined the Prince William County’s Arts Council, I learned the county had a poet laureate. I later decided to submit my work in 2018, but I was not selected,” Kim sighs. “I will be honest and say I was beyond disappointed. I was plain salty. I decided I wouldn’t try it again.” Looking at the previous winners, Kim learned there hadn’t been a black winner. “I concluded that maybe they weren’t ready for a poet laureate who looked like me. Although the submission was blind, and the judges are not given any information about the poet because I write from my perspective as a black female, I wonder if my perspective was evident,” Kim explains.
For the first time, Kim decided she wouldn’t pursue the challenge. Then she heard that still, small voice that started her on this journey. The voice led her to the bookstore in Harlem and the poetry slam stage in Virginia. “With a made-up mind, I almost didn’t enter in 2020. I figured obedience had gotten me this far, so I wasn’t going to stop following God now. But at the last minute, I heard Jesus says, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ I entered and won,” she said.
Kim never believed this path was possible because she struggled with English and writing as a kid. She says to students, “Don’t let your current situation determine your future. I was a kid who couldn’t spell, and now I perform in front of schools and colleges. If I had allowed my limitations to stop me from becoming who I am today, I would be lost. Don’t let what you see now stop you from dreaming and pushing to make those dreams a reality.”
Helping Communities Thrive Through Mental Health EducationBy Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Katrena Wize Artography
Before the 2020-21 pandemic, the stigmas around mental health were alive and well. As the world was becoming increasingly aware of the realities of mental health, it was still easier to put those who suffered into neat categories that could be explained away. As the global community adjusts to life post-pandemic, we find that the truth about mental health issues is that anyone can suffer from them. Add to it the stress and anxiety brought on when the world was paused for a year, and we see a new level of “woke.” But now that our eyes are open, what do we do? Reketta Brown, a North Carolina Licensed Professional Counselor with over twenty years of experience and her new initiative, is here to help answer that question.
Thrive Foundation is a Guilford County-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that educates children, families, and the community on the importance of mental health awareness. This next level in servicing our communities wasn’t something that just happened. “I’ve been sitting on this nonprofit for about three years,” Reketta explained. “Where Wrights Care Services focuses on treatment and care for individual clients and their families, the Thrive Foundation focuses on training professionals in the community, the schools, and different organizations on the importance of mental health awareness.”
Reketta is the founding director of Wrights Care Services. “Wrights Care Services is a privately-owned, full-service behavioral healthcare agency. We are committed to providing clients with a personalized approach to behavioral health and substance abuse services.” As a mental health care provider, Reketta says that she always knew that she would be in the service of helping others.
“I grew up in the church as a PK (pastor’s kid),” Reketta explains. “Watching my parents serve in the church and the community inspired me. I knew that when I grew up, I would be in a profession that focused on helping others.”
Reketta’s love for people shined long before she understood the qualities she possessed that would make her a success as a counselor. “Even as a kid, I had a heart for people. I was that “listening ear” for my friends. I was the one in the group that everyone knew they could lean on.”
A compassionate heart and empathetic spirit are essential when helping people with mental health issues. Ignited with the understanding that serving others was her destiny, Reketta set her sights on nursing. After testing the waters as a C.N.A., she felt like her calling was taking her in a different direction. Reketta attended Winston-Salem State University. “I majored in Occupational Therapy at Winston-Salem State, but oddly enough, when I took the comprehensive exam, I didn’t pass the mental health portion. Go figure!” Reketta said with a laugh.
Although having to choose another field of study was a slight setback, it didn’t stop Reketta. It positioned her to find the program meant for her. “I transferred to the Rehabilitations Studies program and flourished. From that point on, I never looked back. I knew I was where I needed to be.” After earning a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Studies from Winston Salem State in 2005, Reketta let her passion guide her.
Finding her niche, Reketta continued to push forward by attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and receiving her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling. Her first business was a joint venture between her and two friends she met while earning her master’s degree.
Behavioral Health & Wellness Care Services was launched in 2006. Then in 2009, Reketta and a partner started Wright’s Care Services. “As a licensed clinical mental health counselor, I’ve been able to help and support so many families and individuals, specifically Black women,” Reketta shared.
“I’m drawn to women and the issues we face. I work to support women who are going through traumatic changes and transitions. Helping these women is fulfilling and as a woman who has experienced divorce and is now raising a son as a single parent, I can identify with women trying to find balance in a completely off-balance world. It’s hard.”
People talk about passion and what drives them, but when you can explain your why it helps keep you grounded. “As I explained, I’ve always wanted to help people. I tried a few avenues before I focused on counseling. What convinced me… my why is that mental health doesn’t discriminate.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or how much money you make. All people experience different issues in life. That was my sweet spot when I could go into unfamiliar places, see the individual, and feel compelled to help them. I knew beyond a doubt that helping people with mental health issues was what I was born to do.”
For the last thirteen years, Wright’s Care Services clinicians have been servicing the North Carolina, Triad, and surrounding areas in emotional restoration and recovery. But Reketta saw that there was more to be done. “In this post-pandemic climate, we see more and more people experiencing mental health issues or symptoms exacerbated by the stresses of pandemic life. This exposed gaps in care and the availability of information,” Reketta explained. “As we worked with our clients, we received questions from healthcare providers, parents of students, and leaders of professional and religious organizations. A lot of these questions can’t be answered in counseling. This was an opportunity for education and awareness.” From this understanding, the Thrive Foundation was born.
“I’m drawn to women and the issues we face. I work to support women who are going through traumatic changes and transitions. Helping these women is fulfilling and as a woman who has experienced divorce and is now raising a son as a single parent, I can identify with women trying to find balance in a completely offbalance world. It’s hard.”
The Thrive Foundation focuses on training and empowering patients and their families. “By filling the gaps in information and education surrounding mental health, we are giving individuals and communities the ability to thrive,” Reketta says with excitement.
Because Wright’s Care Services has an established reputation in the community, Reketta was approached by school administrators, parents, and religious organizations. “This confirmed the need for a centralized location for vital mental health information,” Reketta explained. “At the Thrive Foundation, we foster hope and resiliency in the communities we serve. This is done by providing programs and resources that help empower, educate, and evolving communities. Our trained team of mental health advocates is committed to building emotionally healthy communities.”
The educational gap that Thrive is helping to fill is between the people dealing with mental health issues and those who live, work and support them. “There are so many different layers and issues that people experience. Being able to identify the signs and symptoms, as well as how to provide support for those individuals, is crucial.” Reketta shared. Wright’s Care Services provides counseling services to two school districts, so it was a natural progression for the foundation to provide educational support for those teachers and parents. “We have become a leader in mental health support in those areas because we have the privilege to service fifteen schools within two districts.”
As Reketta’s vision continues to expand, she is continuously developing tools to help and support families. “Because of our work with children and their families, we have been able to identify specific needs and develop tools that can be used in the home. For example, I have recently launched a product called Affirm. Affirm is a collection of thirty affirmation cards for children ages five to ten. The goal is to help foster confidence early in life, helping combat adolescent insecurities.”
One of the driving forces behind the Thrive Foundation is Reketta wants to make sure there is no room for misinformation. It’s not uncommon for people in the African American community to avoid professional help because of the stigma attached to it by their community. Thrive can get the information to the people who need it most by going to the heart of these communities.
“The church and other religious entities are an intricate part of community life in the African American community. By providing sound mental health education to these organizations, we have a better chance of helping more people,” Reketta insists. “It’s one thing for a friend to suggest counseling, but if a pastor or religious leader encourages parishioners to seek out information or professional mental health support if needed. Those people are more likely to be open to it.” This openness to mental health education is key to helping strengthen individuals, families, and communities.
Moving forward, Reketta’s goal for Thrive Foundation is to continue laying the groundwork and building relationships between the public and mental health professionals. “The relationship between mental health professionals and their clients isn’t always easily won. It takes time and trust. I hope that as Wright’s Care Services works in concert with the Thrive Foundation, we can build happier and healthier communities one by one.”
For organizations and individuals who are interested in acquiring training on mental health awareness and education, please reachout to Thrive Foundation.
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The Vision. The FoundationBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Ward Legacy Studios
When passion and purpose align with one another, great things are usually created.
Khadijah is best described as someone kind in nature. While she has faced several obstacles in life, Khadijah Butler of Philadelphia, PA, has persevered. She shares, “The parallels of my life are researching and giving back. I love providing aid to my community and helping others find ways to live fruitful and fulfilling lives.”
As a young adult, Khadijah endured the tragic loss of her father, Craig Butler. When she was only 19 years old, her father was murdered by a 14-year-old boy over a dispute. While the sudden loss of her father was tragic and left a huge void in her life, Khadijah repulped her tragedy into triumph. In memory of her father’s legacy, she formed the Craig D. Butler Scholarship Foundation. Its focus is to provide financial assistance to African-American citizens in Philadelphia. Khadijah stresses the importance of providing aid and resources for the black youth in Philadelphia and says that when children know they have options, it gives birth to hope within them.
The Craig D. Butler Scholarship Foundation also strives to redirect the youth’s focus off of gun violence and support education. “We want to address the educational gap and inequities that exist among black students compared to their white counterparts,” she says.
Another byproduct of The CBD Foundation is a book that Khadijah has written titled, Laying the Foundation Brick by Brick. She says the focus of her book is to essentially show others how to start a scholarship foundation or nonprofit organization. “My book was developed to assist with the healing of my father’s death and also to help promote the scholarship. When I began working on the CBD Scholarship Foundation, I could not find information on beginning a scholarship. I also did not realize the therapeutic benefits until I started writing. I didn’t have any prior aspirations to write a book, but I’m glad I did,” she says. “This book has bylaws in it, checklists, and website links. Any mistake I made along the way they are in there.”
Inspiration for Khadijah derives from her desire to be a business owner. “I always knew I wanted to start something I’m passionate about. Beginning this organization in my father’s honor was my pain point. Not just my pain point of healing from his death, but also with education and knowing that I am filling a void,” she says. “I was able to utilize my father’s love and address my concern of the education gap at the same time.”
Khadijah remains driven and sustains the vision and mission of her organization from the people she serves. “Feedback from the community and the parents does it for me. Understanding the need and finding ways to meet the need remains my most important objective,” she says.
Khadijah cites that her identity and utilizing social media as a connectivity tool to link students to her scholarship has been successful. “I have learned that when you have someone who looks like you and shares similar goals, it is easy to make a connection,” she says.
Khadijah says her future endeavors involve promoting her book throughout her community and working with public libraries within the city of Philadelphia. “There is no excuse for students not to get this valuable information. Every guidance counselor should have it. When I first began, If I had access to information to help get my foundation off the ground, there is no telling where I would be,” she says. Khadijah also plans to hold scholarship workshops for the community as well.
A second initiative that Khadijah has in the works is a project that would align the book and the scholarship in what would be called the Books and Bars Program. This new initiative is designed to help reform inmates as they prepare for reentry into society. “It may be difficult for inmates to find jobs. I want to help them navigate the world of entrepreneurship and provide other options upon release,” she shares.
It is apparent that Khadijah will continue to be a catalyst for change in Philadelphia. She plans to continue using her father’s legacy to evoke change, uplift the youth, and introduce them to positive trajectories. Please contact Khadijah directly or visit her website to learn more about the CBD Scholarship Foundation or to purchase a copy of her book.
There is no excuse for students not to get this valuable information. Every guidance counselor should have it. When I first began, If I had access to information to help get my foundation of the ground, there is no telling where I would be.”
TheBeardedOne.By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Michael Arnett
The saying goes that when a man looks good, he feels good. Budding entrepreneur Michael Arnett of Charleston, SC, has set his sights on ensuring it becomes a reality for all men who desire it.
The 59-year-old father, husband, caretaker, and retired Police Officer is a native of Harlem, NY, but was raised in the Bronx. Living in a melting pot, Michael saw different nationalities and cultures of people. That experience helped him grow as an individual. He says he was determined to escape his environment and see the world.
His story is that of someone who has persevered despite what his surroundings presented to him. He shares, “I lived in public housing (the PJ’s) for 25 years. I come from a two-parent household, along with two other siblings. We had great examples as parents; my father was a Police Officer, and my mom worked as a Secretary. My parents always told me to work hard, and that anything is possible. My dad told me I could be better than him and that nobody was going to give me anything.”
Michael always loved fashion. After graduating from vocational high school in 1981, he enrolled at a community college. He attended school full-time and worked full-time. His major was graphic arts and advertising. Michael successfully received his associate degree in 1985. “After college, I worked several jobs but wasn’t satisfied. In 1987, I joined the US Air Force, served for five years, and spent time in the Gulf during Desert Storm. After leaving the military, I worked until I became a police officer and was accepted into the academy in 1997. I later retired in 2018 and started on a mission of entrepreneurship, fueled by my love for fashion and to be different,” he says. In 2020, Michael relocated to his current home in Charleston to care for his mom.
Today, Michael is the owner of TheBeardedOne., a clothing apparel company that produces T-shirts, Hats (Bucket and Farmer), and Hoodies. Michael’s clothes are geared toward the Bearded community and cater to individuals with mustaches, goatees, etc.
Michael says TheBeardedOne. began after he grew a beard in late 2017. “I began to think about how to incorporate my beard into my business model. After going back and forth, I figured out how to make it happen in December 2020.”
While he has a genuine love for fashion, Michael says he also finds enjoyment in being different. “Fashion is what you make it! I have made a business out of fashion, and because I am the owner, I can do what I want and not answer to anyone,” he says.
Like most small business owners, TheBeardedOne. has faced its share of challenges. Michael says some have been finding a way to navigate through a saturated T-shirt market and rough economy. He has also had to deal with operating with limited resources. “I have overcome the saturation by offering different and unique clothes of good quality. I have found good quality clothing and still profit from my prices. With limited resources, I have attended more networking workshops and located events that allowed me to vend and showcase my apparel,” he says. Michael is also a member of the cigar club, Good Times Gang. That connection, he says, allows him to network with people from all over the country.
While his journey has been a little challenging, Michael says he wouldn’t change much about the way things have happened. “I would not change anything. The trials and tribulations are a part of life. You can grow from them or fall back and blame everyone else for your misfortunes. My advice to others who may follow in my footsteps is to keep God first in everything you do. You must have a plan, execute, network, and bring the love of what you do to your business. Stay focused and cut back folks that don’t have the same energy as you. And don’t be scared to let the world know you are here,” he says.
Living in New York prepared Michael for life at an early age. Moving forward, he plans to continue to grow his brand. He also hopes to purchase a van and convert it into a mobile store. He also hopes to have a storefront to display his apparel and help out other local fashion-based companies by displaying their apparel in his store.
Brownlee A Hero In His CommunityBy DorJae’ McClammey Photos Provided by Geno Brownlee
Community Activist, Geno Brownlee is committed to doing his part to change the narrative for the youth in Memphis, TN. A South Memphis native, Geno has a ground-level perspective of the inner workings of Tennessee’s second-largest city. Most importantly, he understands the challenges that young citizens in his community face and refuses to sit on the sidelines. Geno has jumped into the heart of the matter, with hope and purpose as his sidekick.
Geno is a father, independent artist, children’s book author, motivational speaker, and visionary of Changing Lives Global Foundation. Through his foundation, Geno focuses on changing the lives of kids and young adults across the mid-south.
Growing up in a tough city like Memphis made Geno want to bring light to his community. He admits that he never imagined being a children’s book author. “It all started when I went viral on the social media platform TikTok for creating a new dance. In no time, the video gained over four million views. I eventually used this engagement to promote my song,” he says. The name of his song is called, “Saucy”, and its focus is to encourage young kids to dress for success, and to stay in school, and achieve good grades. It is also a tool used to prevent bullying.
Geno made his first official school visit at Levi Elementary in Memphis on September 21, 2021. To date, he has performed for and hosted motivational seminars at over 132 schools and has been featured on local news stations countless times. He has written five children’s books, including “One Day the Sun Will Shine” and “A Superior Christmas with 901 Nazcar and Friends”.
Through Changing Lives Global Foundation, Geno has developed the Stop the Bullying Workshops, which are 15 to 20-minute sessions designed to teach kids and young adults about the different types of bullies. He’s spoken to kids from the daycare level up to the college level. What’s more impressive is that Geno’s words have spread across the country, from the mid-south to Atlanta, GA, and Cleveland, OH.
He is unequivocal and purposeful about helping youth and his work has given him a chance to connect with some big names in the entertainment industry, including T from Superior, Hadrat Faatimah, MoneyBagg Yo, Glorilla, Bankroll Freddie, Dee Mula, Marcus Ward Sr., Penny Hardway, Zach Randolph, Reagan Garland, and more.
The journey for Geno hasn’t always been easy. It has come with a few challenges here and there. Growing up, neither of his parents was in his life, and while building his foundation, many people continued to leave. He shares, “I faced a lot of people quitting on me, giving up on me, and telling me no. But when adversity sets in, that’s when I’m at my best. When things get hard for me, I go harder.”
Geno finds inspiration in serving his community and by improving child literacy one day at a time. “I sometimes believe the youth in my community are being steered in the wrong direction. By being a positive role model for them and leading by example, I want to show them what can be possible if they strive for more,” he says. “I also want to show my own kids how to succeed.” How is he doing that? One way is by developing the Changing Lives Global Foundation into a family business and enlisting his seven-yearold daughter, Brooklyn, as his manager.
In the future, Geno plans to do more for the youth in Memphis and the United States. He is currently working on four new books and taking the Changing Lives Global Foundation on tour. He will also take his Stop The Bullying Workshops to 32 more states nationwide.
Geno’s advice for others who may follow a path similar to the one he has is clear. “You’re going to go through some pain, but I promise God will use it to make you stronger. He has a purpose for you, so don’t give up. It will be a rocky road to success, but you must keep going when things get hard. Success will not come easy.”
To learn more about Geno Brownlee and all his excellent work, please follow him on Instagram and TikTok. You may also contact him directly via email.
“I sometimes believe the youth in my community are being steered in the wrong direction. By being a positive role model for them and leading by example, I want to show them what can be possible if they strive for more.”
The Dixon GroupBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Ryan Dixon
It’s been said that it takes two to make a thing go right. In the case of Ryan and Cherri Dixon, that assertion couldn’t be more accurate. Together, they make up the Dixon Group, which operates under the RE/MAX Champions Realty The Dixon Group Greensboro, NC. This full-service realty brand provides professional real estate services for purchasing or selling Commercial, Residential, and Investment Properties throughout North Carolina.
Ryan is a father, grandfather, and husband to Cherri. He is also a Greensboro native and James B. Dudley High School graduate. He is a proud U.S. Air Force veteran who served for 20 years. Some of his deployed locations were Iraq, Kuwait, Cuba, and Australia. He shares he met Cherri at his first military duty assignment at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina.
Cherri is a native of the Bronx, NY, and moved to Charleston, SC, during her grade school years. She is a devoted mother, grandmother, and wife to Ryan and says she loves traveling with Ryan, meeting new people, and giving back to the communities they are a part of. In addition to the brand she is building with Ryan, she works as a Human Resources Specialist for the United Postal Service. She pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Workforce Education Development and one in Human Resource Management from Southern Illinois University. Together, Cherri and Ryan have six children, and two grandchildren.
Ryan and Cherri say they love witnessing a family’s happiness when buying their firsttime home or a forever home. “We both were inspired to pursue Real Estate mainly because many of our close family and friends have succeeded in this field. We also love being business owners and helping people achieve their dream of home ownership. We love seeing entrepreneurs’ dreams come when they purchase an investment or commercial property. Most of all, we love working as a husband-and-wife team and building a foundation for our family and a business for future generations.”
Looking forward, Ryan and Cherri plan to expand. They hope to accomplish this with their children joining their business and also venturing out to other states. “Our goals for 2023 is to get more face-to-face contact with potential clients, network, and promote our business. We also want to increase our sales and see more smiling faces, knowing that we helped someone buy or sell a home,” they said. To learn more about The Dixon Group, please contact them directly.
JD Davis is the owner of Please Believe Fitness. Based in Charlotte, NC, Please Believe Fitness began with words JD spoke to himself. “If you don’t truly believe that you can accomplish what you set out to do, then there’s a strong likelihood that you probably won’t be able to.”
JD is a native of Charlotte and has served as a Certified Personal Trainer for over 20 years. He is a father of two grown young men, Donte and Tre’, and he has two beautiful grandkids; D’Mani and Donte’ Jr. JD’s career in the health and fitness industry began as a response to his being overweight. He says, “I knew I needed to make some changes in my life. S, I purchased a good pair of running shoes and started running on my lunch breaks at work. I only had 30 minutes to get it in, so I would sneak out a few minutes early to change my clothes. I would run my entire break, change back into my work uniform, and sneak back into the building about five minutes late every night,” he says. With consistency, he lost weight very quickly, but a fire had also been ignited in JD to learn more about the human body and help other people reach their weight loss goals.
After being laid off from his job, the idea to start his own fitness company came about. That is how Please Believe Fitness came to life.
At Please Believe Fitness, JD offers HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and will soon include FITRANX in his arsenal. FITRANX is a standardized training system used to gauge one’s current fitness level. He also offers nutrition assistance to all of his clients.
JD says he loves the daily interactions with the people he works with. “My “Believers” give me life! They inspire me to continuously learn and educate myself to be the best for them and provide the best possible service. I love changing and impacting lives and assisting others in accomplishing their goals.”
The future for Please Believe Fitness is limitless, and JD says while he can predict the future, he plans to continue to impact people’s lives and change the world, one pound at a time. His advice to others who may want to experience a lifestyle change as he has is this: Once you start something, don’t give up until it’s yours. Learn and study all you can and surround yourself with people who will support whatever you’re attempting to accomplish.
Cutest BabyThe daughter of Brianna Jackson Granddaughter of Ed & Raquel Browning Great Granddaughter of Annie Browning & Lisa To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to email@example.com MAGAZINE Juliana Marie Jackson