May/June 2022 Volume 2 Issue 5
The Wealthy Child Huntsville - May/June 2022
Virtual/Online Treatment Onsite Treatment: ( In Home, Daycares, Schools, and Summer Camps) CEO/FOUNDER
Christina Bennett M.S. CCC/SLP
1580 Sparkman Dr. Suite 202 - Huntsville, AL 35816 256-715-1249
We May Wish, But God Has A Plan A Letter From The Editor
There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!
Modern technology, such as the internet and smart devices, has changed the the wayEditor consumers shop for everyday necessities. A Letter from Everything from groceries to televisions, tires, medications, and patio furniture can be purchased directly from a smartphone or computer. Foot traffic in stores beenAll greatly reduced, and What if tomorrow didn’thas arrive? of your plans, hopes the Covid 19 pandemic may have played a big role in that also. and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if Anyhow, many retailers adjusted they tomorrow make theirnever products everything that youhave decided to puthow off until accessible in order for them to survive. happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making Aspromises. a child, I remember thelast huge department store catalogs that What if your opportunity seemingly expired would comeWhat in thewould mail every year, usually around the Christmas today? you do? holiday season. I would look at them and prepare my list of items that I wanted before to mylike mama. Sometimes I’ve been toldsubmitting that I oftenitseem I do too much. I got mostHonestly, of what IIwanted, but not always. Still, looking through feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm the catalog and believing that I would get themput wasanything very exciting for believer in knowing that God wouldn’t on me me. that Unfortunately, the catalogs are longwonder gone now been I couldn’t handle. I sometimes howand lifehave would replaced digital technology. be if by I chose toones. sit idleAwwwe, and accept what it presented to me. I have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity I compare those childhood catalog moments to some is a blessing that isn’t afforded tosurfing everyone. A challenge experiences have as an adult. I have often tried plan out my life to me is Ian adventure. What is the worst thattocan happen? by creating a wish list for various stages without the assistance If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn of a department I have Relinquish made plansyour for various things somethingstore newcatalog. about myself. pride and in and experiences and made plans on how to acquire and accomplish return acquire life. them. Those plans were submitted to God, and I’m always amazed at whatThe I receive from God response. best advice everin given to me happened when someone told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so See, I have learned though I make I have pressed mythat wayeven through doors withplans, a key God that has onlythe final hope say. What I think is good for me, God knows what is truly best provided. I have also learned the difference between for me. Even my lowest moments, Godlife hascan already prepared a what Godinblesses me with and what burden me with pathas towell. higher ground for me. And even when I choose to follow I compare it to knowing when to be confident and my own way, He redirects. when to be quiet, because someone may get it confused I strive to being live a better life, a life with arrogant. that is connected to God through obedience and grasping a better Make you tomorrow understanding of what He desires happen today, but most for me.importantly I admit thatmake I don’t have all it count. the answers, I make Life is and but asometimes whisper and mistakes. It’s good to know that we must put ourselves in aeven when I position get off track in life, God’s to hear what it is love never changes. telling us.
www.huamimagazine.com Terry L Watson
www.huamimagazine.com Terry L. Watson Writer Editor In Chief Monica Montgomery Terry L. Watson Writer Dorjea’ McClammey Writer Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Ellen Richardson Writer Writers
Tonya Dixon Photographer Fredro Star Terry L. Watson Still Shots Photography Photographer Alana Allen Tamara Smith TMF Photography Jeuron Dove Photographer Photographers Perfect Lenz Todd Youngblood Photography Want To Photography Advertise?
ShawAn Photography Group Send Email or Call Today Still Shots Photography
email@example.com Howard Gaither Photography Who Shotya Photography (336)340-7844 Layout
MediaUsCompany KeepMykel Up With on Facebook Linda Bennett Huami Magazine for Huntsville
A Group For Followers and firstname.lastname@example.org Supporters of Huami Magazine
HUAMI MAGAZINE is published bimonthly quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication may be submitted to the editor by E-mail at email@example.com Email or Telephone firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or to 336-340-7844 Mykel Media Company, LLC Mykel Media Company LLC P.O. Box 20102 Greensboro, NC Greensboro, NC 27420 HUAMI MAGAZINE 2022 All Rights Reserved 2020 All 2014 All Rights RightsReserved Reserved
Terry L. Watson 4
Terry L. Watson Editor/Founder
On The Cover
Photo by Shaw Photography Group
Christina Bennett 10 Say It Sow
On The Cover
The Wealthy Child Delvin Sullivan
Soaring To The Top
Trooper Shawn Harvin
Huami Magazine Cutest Baby
Marrel Gravely Foushee
Pamela Williams She has returned her childhood neighborhood with resources in tow. Learn more about her story. Chicago, IL
Verlancia Tucker She is using her experiences and trauma to assist others with managing depression. Learn more about her journey. Little Rock, AR
Dr. David Banks He is providing noble ideas to manifest success. Learn more about who he is, and what his ministry is about. Nashville, TN
Huntsville - May/June 2022
The Wealthy Child “I am a Change Agent on the path to create a culture of wealth for the next generation”
By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Ronald Pollard
Delvin Sullivan is a Dave Ramsey-certified Financial Coach who believes that “The earlier money can make sense to a child, the better chance they have at being financially responsible adults.” A native of Huntsville, AL, Delvin is the author of The Wealthy Child, a book designed to teach youth about money and the world’s economic process. As someone who grew up in public housing, Delvin’s passion always led him to mentoring youth and posing as a positive role model for kids, particularly young men. Using the basic principles of wealth, he published his book to level the playing field and offer all children the opportunity to become wealthy through knowledge. Some of the topics discussed in the Wealthy Child production are budgeting, banking, investing, credit, income, and assets. “I am introducing children to the basics of financial literacy in a fun and engaging way and teaching kids about the importance of earning, saving, and spending responsibly. My goal is to ensure they understand the importance of earning, saving, and spending responsibly,” Delvin says. In addition to being an author, personal finance coach, and entrepreneur, Delvin is also a US Army veteran and recipient of the Unsung Hero Award. He holds degrees from Alabama A&M University and Murray State University. He is married to Felichia, and they have two children, Tierra and Jordan, along with three grandchildren. Delvin shares, “I began teaching at the Sparkman Homes Boys and Girls Club in 2017, and decided to develop a book and workbook that would give the students something they could take home with them.” The vision for The Wealthy Child is connected to Delvins awareness of the many challenges that youth face, especially within his community. “Studies show 80% of crimes that send people to prison have something to do with money. I want to change that narrative by teaching children how to earn, save, grow, and respect the dollar at an early age,” he says.
Huntsville - May/June 2022
He shares that he loves being able to change the course of a child’s life by ensuring he or she is financially literate. He is also inspired by youth development and making a difference in his community. Growing up in similar situations that many of the young individuals he’s helping are, Delving feels that he has a sincere responsibility to create realistic opportunities for them. “I made it to where I am because of the men placed in my life at the Boys and Girls Club. It was Ugene Phillips, Cedric Wherry, and Tyrone Langford. They would preach, “if you want to be an eagle, don’t hang around turkey’s”. That kept me from becoming a product of my environment,” Delvin says. Delvin’s future goal is to continue to change the lives of millions of children by introducing them to the world’s economic process. To learn more about The Wealthy Child, please visit their website. h
Delvin Sullivan The Wealthy Child
www.thewealthychild.net 256-468-3227 8
Marrel Gravely Foushee The son Sunny Gravely Foushee and Marrel Foushee
Huntsville - May/June 2022
To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Christina Bennett By Dorjea McClammey Photos Provided By Christina Bennett Christina Bennett is the founder of Say It Sow, a speech therapy program in Huntsville, Alabama. Their motto is “What You Speak Life Into Grows, “ which is a constant reminder for Christina. She says, “Use your words positively to speak life and manifest your heart’s desires.” A native of Houston, Texas, Christina was raised in the small town of Fayette, Alabama. In 2002, she made the trek to Huntsville to attend Alabama A&M University. There she received her bachelor’s in Communicative Sciences and Disorders and followed that by earning her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Christina stated she enjoyed Huntsville so much that she decided to build her life there. She met her husband in Huntsville, and together they’ve produced two wonderful daughters. “I love Huntsville. It’s like porridge, just right. Huntsville is not too big like Houston and not too small like my hometown.” The journey of Say it Sow began in 2013. Christina was working in a private speech therapy practice that offered services to children and adults with speech-language, swallowing, voice, and hearing impairments. She served as the rehab director for about eight years but began to feel uncomfortable and determined she needed a change. Her mentor at the time encouraged her to step out on faith and launch her own firm, even providing Christina with the company’s name. “I continued to talk to God about the situation, and He ultimately revealed to me that I was going to have a private practice. True to His word, I would have just that,” she says. Christina did one of the hardest things she had ever done and left her sixfigure job to pursue her dream, but she shared she knew God was leading her. “Being in a corporate setting for so many years and lacking the flexibility to be with my family and treat clients was a hindrance. I wasn’t happy, and my clients weren’t getting what they needed, so I vowed to be able to not only give myself the flexibility but give my clients what they deserved,” she says.
In 2020, Say It Sow was born. Christina says it was a rough start, and she had only one client that entire year. However, she remained grateful and determined to succeed, and soon her business began to flourish. Presently, Say It Sow has over 100 clients. Christina’s practice offers various services, including articulation, language delays, fluency apraxia, aphasia dysarthria, autism, dysphagia, traumatic brain injury, and voice and motor speech disorders. She also addresses Neurologic impairments such as Parkinsons and Dementia. “My services are for everyone, from ages zero to 99,” she says. She also provides in-home visits and virtual sessions and even travels to local daycare centers to help make it easier for parents. A career as a Speech Pathologist was something Christina always knew she wanted to pursue. She was once in a position like her clients as well. Christina was involved in a car accident that caused her to break both of her legs when she was younger. She also fractured her pelvis bone and sustained a severe head injury. Because of her injuries, she had to forfeit her entire 10th-grade year in high school and take speech therapy to regain her speech and language skills. After surviving that ordeal, Christina knew what her passion and purpose were. Christina says the experience of having her own practice has not always been easy. Some of the disorders and neurological impairments her clients can be difficult to work with, mainly due to the loss of speech or language. “However challenging it can be, the opportunity to help others is always rewarding,” she says. “When you teach someone who has suffered a stroke to repeat their wife’s name, or teach someone to tell their daughter “I love you” again, it makes it all worth it.” Being able to give her clients hope and help them achieve their goals continues to push Christina to be the very best version of herself. As for the future of Say it Sow, Christina plans on expanding her practice to serve other disciplines and be a complete resource to her community. She is also accepting new clients and will soon launch two summer camps.
Christina Bennett M.S. CCC/SLP Say It Sow www.sayitsow.com 256-715-1249
For those who may be considering a career such as hers, Christina offers some sound advice. ‘Our field is gratifying, independent, and broad, so if you get tired of one aspect, there are many more opportunities to try under the speech pathology umbrella. To learn more about Christina Bennett and Say It Sow, please visit their website. h
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Whitney Morgan M-Powerment Solutions LLC
By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Whitney Morgan He is young, black, and making moves in the Kansas City, MO, business district. He is the owner and founder of M-Powerment Solutions LLC, an experienced financial literacy company that focuses on credit restoration and helping individuals become debt-free. They also help businesses establish business credit and funding options. Their award-winning services have assisted in removing all types of derogatory items such as bankruptcies and medical bills from their client’s credit files. To be clear, M-Powement Solutions LLC gets the job done. At just 34 years old, Whitney Morgan has seen a lot. While he presently resides in Kansas City, he has also lived in Atlanta, GA, Port Townsend, WA, and his native home of Minneapolis, MN. He has a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a masters degree in Urban Planning from the University of Kansas. His background involves Transportation Planning, City Development, and Small Business Advocacy, and he’s held many leadership positions and volunteered just as well. His volunteering efforts include Kappa Alpha Psi, Freedom Schools, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, Finance and College Ministry Leader with Faith City Christian Center, and Black Student Union. What separates M-Powement Solutions LLC from other companies that provide similar services? Whitney says it’s their commitment to providing quality service at a very affordable cost. “We also have various products to help our clients build positive credit in their name, such as our secure credit card with cashback rewards. We also have the Credit My Rent program that adds all positive rent payments to their credit report, and we partner with various credit builder companies like Self, Credit Strong, Grow Credit, and more. Our goal is to provide our clients with excellent solutions to address their financial struggles,” he says.
Some of the additional tools offered by Whitney and his team are Credit Restoration Will, Trust, and Power of Attorney, and Budgeting/Debt Payoff Education. There is also a Smart Credit Monitoring App that allows users to view all three credit scores, and Merchant Services that offer payment processing systems for businesses. Additionally, they offer a Youth Financial Literacy Scholarship and Educational Program, Rocket Lawyer Services, Student Loan Assistance, Mobile Telehealth Services, and Business Credit Business Funding.
“Experience is the best teacher. Knowledge is not power; applied knowledge is. If knowledge by itself were power, most librarians would be millionaires.”
The decision to launch M-Powement Solutions LLC happened in June 2020, during the Covid 19 pandemic, Whitney shares. “My wife and I struggled with bad credit caused by debt consolidation. That debt was built because my wife was laid off multiple times, and I was repeatedly passed up for promotions I qualified for. This caused a lot of stress in our marriage and ironically served as a learning experience. We decided to educate other families about the importance of having good credit and the opportunities that come with it.” Whitney says what he loves most about his business is being able to help people buy brand new houses and new cars, find funding for their business, and increase their financial literacy. “We are breaking generational curses,” he says. Waking up every day knowing that he has a gift that can help a lot of people and then putting his gift into action is what pushes him. He also credits his father and grandfather for being great examples of what a man should be. “I was raised by a single father. He has instilled loving and caring principles in me and showed me how to work hard and provide for my family. He told me ever since I could remember that I could be anything I wanted to be and often called me Mr. President as a child. My grandfather taught me how to fish. He also showed me what a consummate professional and respectable Christian man looks like. He has been married to my grandmother for over 50 years. He has held multiple civic positions and joined a fraternity. My grandfather is an architect and has designed buildings all across the country. He’s been retired for over 20 years and wakes up every day and does what he wants,” Whitney says. Whitney offers the following advice for those who may follow in his footsteps. “Experience is the best teacher. Knowledge is not power; applied knowledge is. If knowledge by itself were power, most librarians would be millionaires.”
Whitney Morgan M-Powerment Solutions LLC www.mpowerment-solutions.com (816) 348-3223
As life continues to happen for Whitney, he plans to use his products and services to help people across the country. There are also plans to expand. To learn more about Whitney Morgan and M-Powerment Solutions LLC, please contact them directly or visit their website. h
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Providing Noble Ideas To Manifest Success By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Dr. David Banks
He has a genuine and compassionate love for God. It was August 0f 1982, and Dr. David Banks had just given his life to Christ. He shares how he struggled with his Christian walk all throughout high school and even while in college. However, despite his struggles, he always believed that his life served a greater purpose, and soon God would reveal what it was. Born and raised in Covington, GA, Dr. Banks is an International Best Selling Amazon Author, collaborating with Les Brown and Dr. Cheryl Wood. He is also the President of Noble Success Strategic Group, LLC. His company serves various notable clients, including Volkswagen, BB&T, Ace Hardware, Office of Family Empowerment, Family Promise, National League of Cities, Urban League, Academy of Allied Health, BlueCross Blue Shield, Chattanooga State, and the Chattanooga Police and Fire Departments. He is also the President of Noble Marriages and the Founder of Global Alliance for Leadership Development. He is manages the popular Facebook Forum, Dr. David Bank’s Noble Tribe. With all of his personal and professional accomplishments, Dr. Banks shares that none of it would be possible without the love and support of his family, that being his wife of 31 years, Slyvia, and three loving children, Caleb, Maiya, and Benjamin.
10 Books Written By Dr. David Banks
Ebooks “30 Days of Success” “30 Days of Purpose” “30 Days of the Kingdom” “30 Days to a Mountain TOP Mindset” “30 Days to Release your Inner Greatness” Children’s Books “My Daddy’s Coat” “Jada’s Treasure Chest” Marriage Books “Draw Me Close” “30-Day Couple’s Devotional
Today, Dr. Banks is fully walking in his divine purpose and serves as the leader of The Empowerment Embassy. His ministry he says, operates with a mandate to Empower Kings to Flow and Reign in their domain. “I had been in the counseling field for over twenty years. In Sept. 2003, I was called away for a time of fasting and prayer and instructed to plant a church. I was reluctant at first, but I submitted to His will. I started the ministry with my bride and three kids and was also given further instructions. In 2005, after digesting a book written by Dr. Myles Munroe called “Rediscovering the Kingdom”, God revealed to me the purpose of my ministry, which was to empower leaders to flow in their giftedness and reign in eight fields,” he says. These fields are Home, Business, Education, Government, Medical, Ministry, The Arts, and Region. “I realized that I’m a Kingdom citizen made in the image of God, created to function as a king and being given a Kingdom by God to establish in the earth.” In March 2020, Dr. Banks made the decision to convert his ministry to a total virtual platform. He now has partners across the United States, and in Australia, The Netherlands, the Philippines, Zambia, Africa, and Lagos Nigeria. Dr. Banks has worked in the field of personal growth and professional development for over twenty years and specializes in Relationship Development, Success Development, Leadership Development, Kingdom Intelligence, Motivation, and Purpose Discovery. He holds a PhD in Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family. He is a Certified Behavioral Analysis Trainer, Wholeness Coach, and Leadership Strategist. He is a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Trainer, Speaker, and Coach with the John Maxwell Team. Dr. Banks also serves a the Director of Leadership and Professional Development for the City of Chattanooga, TN. He has expertise in Relationships, Leadership Development, Motivation, and Purpose Discovery. When asked what he loves most about what he does, Dr. Banks says the ability to live out his purpose. “I enjoy empowering people to discover their original design for them to succeed in personal and professional life. I also enjoy being able to shift individuals’ natural intelligence to Kingdom Intelligence and educating them about the Kingdom of God,” he shares. He says that Dr. Myles Munroe impacted his life and ministry more than anything else has. “When I met Dr. Myles Munroe in 2010, we instantly connected in our spirit. He made it clear that he wanted to assist me in fulfilling my Kingdom mandate,” he says. While Dr. Banks’ journey has been enjoyable and fulfilling, he says there are a few things he would change about it if given a chance. “I would focus more on my mandate instead of trying to please people. Instead of going to church in the four walls, I would have focused on being the church and made sure I spent more time with my bride and my family. I would have also read more books and stretched my faith to do more God-sized projects,” he says. His advice for those who may follow a similar path in life as he as is simple. “Discover your purpose and surround yourself with a key team. Also, clarify your mandate, keep pressing beyond your comfort zone, and stay focused.”
Futuristically, Dr. Banks plans to expand his business, Noble Success Strategic Group, LLC, to a global level. He also plans to custom design his own bow ties, and create a strategy to impact his city. There are also plans to develop a Humanitarian project in Pakistan. Personally, Dr. Banks is preparing to run a Half Marathon. A self-described avid reader, he has set his goals of reading a book a month and writing an ebook. As if that wasn’t enough, he is also planning to create an online course. To learn more about Dr. David Banks, please visit his website.
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Huntsville - May/June 2022
T U C K E R By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Verlancia Tucker It has been said to never judge a book by its cover. For Verlancia Tucker, this assessment is spot on. She is the founder of BOHEMIA Cares, a non-profit organization that offers self-love programs while spreading mental health awareness. The quality programs provide enrichment, mentorship, outreach, educational consulting, and social-emotional learning to individuals and families. “BOHEMIA Cares is not just any nonprofit organization, we are a healing ministry. We allow individuals to share openly about self-love and mental illness in safe, nonjudgmental spaces. We allow God to shine through us so that others will know there is a living God and Savior. When people look and hear me, I want them to see and hear God,” she says. Verlancia grew up in the Delta (Lee County), Arkansas, and is the ninth daughter of ten children born to Jeff and Henrietta Tucker. She is also a mother, educator, mentor, advocate, personal development coach and survivor. Verlancia attended Lee High Schools in Marianna, Arkansas, and has earned a Master of Secondary Education degree and two Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, with majors in Advertising-Public Relations and Marketing from UA-Little Rock. She is an Arkansas Educator licensed in Business Technology and endorsed in Career Orientation and English as a Second Language, and has worked as a classroom teacher for ten years with mentorship and teacher supervisor experience. Furthermore, she currently serves as the Education Committee Chair for the Jacksonville Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Verlancia founded BOHEMIA Cares on January 8, 2018. It was an action she shared that God commissioned her to do. “I experienced mental illness at age 17, mainly due to my exposure to domestic violence. Yet, I was fortunate to graduate high school as an honor student, finishing in the top 10% of my graduating class. I attended a community college during my senior year in high school, all while battling the silent monster,” she says. Verlancia moved out on her own and enrolled in college at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock immediately after high school. “After graduating from high school, I thought I would become an accountant and a cosmetologist. After my first two accounting courses, that soon changed. Nonetheless, I graduated from barber school with barber and barber instructor licenses, but I couldn’t practice in that field due to neck and back issues,” she says. As she got older, she ignored the trauma from her early childhood but would find herself involved with another trying situation. Verlancia dated a guy who turned out to be a stalker. During that time, she also lost a family member to gun violence. “Life became so dark and hopeless, and mental illness attacked my mind yet once again,” she shares. Huntsville - May/June 2022
“My mental stability plummeted again, and everything that could go wrong was going wrong. I realized that I could no longer manage my daily home life and teach school, and I needed mental counseling. I had to go get help, or death would have been the end result because I had already planned my suicide.” Years would pass, and Verlancia continued to battle depression with the assistance of medication. She also got married, had a son, and was divorced, all within a year. After being left to raise her son alone, Verlancia says she struggled to maintain a smile and work through the heartache and pain. During her trials, Verlancia says there were some bright moments also. “While my personal life was going downhill, my professional life was looking up. I landed a job at a middle school and taught Keyboarding, mentored at-risk girls, and served as the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) Advisor. Through all of the hustle and bustle, Verlaneca says she lost herself. “Life became so cumbersome and overwhelming. My mental stability plummeted again, and everything that could go wrong was going wrong. I realized that I could no longer manage my daily home life and teach school, and I needed mental counseling. I had to go get help, or death would have been the end result because I had already planned my suicide,” she shares. Verlancia shares that she contemplated suicide because she was in a dark, dark place. Thankfully, she says, God intervened, and she endured countless sleepless days and nights filled with crying, worrying, despair, anxiety, and bitterness. “Even though I managed to attain college degrees and accolades, it meant absolutely nothing because my inner joy and peace were in a place of unrest and discontent. I replayed a lot of negative thoughts and actions. Honestly, I felt as if I had lost my soul. I had a real fistfight with the devil to regain my soul. It was God and therapy that saved my life. My therapist taught me coping strategies, and I learned how to set healthy boundaries for my peace and healing. I then began to shed the resentment and pain that I had harbored for years. I learned so much about myself during the therapy sessions. I realized that I had been battling with myself for a long time. I learned how to identify my triggers and be okay with eliminating toxic people from my inner circle. I realized that what occurred in my life was not a mistake or error. I also asked God why I endured so much pain, heartache, and suffering. God told me, “In order for you to be able to help other people, you had to go through it.” In that moment, I gained a sense of peace and acceptance, and God began to speak the vision of this organization to me,” she says. Verlancia says she is inspired by people who push past adversity and defy the odds. “I am inspired by people who love others when others mistreat them and those who value other people, regardless of where they come from or what they look like,” she says. Her friends of more than 45 years, Pam, Cita, Relynda, Claudette, and Tammy have inspired her the most. “They have been by my side through it all, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the indifferent. They have allowed me to be me and embraced me when my life was in shambles, and they celebrate with me today. They have challenged me to become better, and are my accountability partners in life.” Moving forward, Verlancia hopes to write adult and children’s books about mental health and self-love. She also hopes to open a charter school one day, and open a transition home for single mothers who struggle with mental illness. Her personal goal is to become a professional print model. To learn more about Varlancia and BOHEMIA Cares, please visit their website. h
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Public Service: A Path to Destiny By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Tory Bass Photography
Whether it’s in his church, his local community, or as a North Carolina State Trooper, Master Trooper Shawn Harvin’s commitment to public service shows in a big way. As a young man, Shawn knew he was destined to help others. His question was, how would that look? Born and raised in Greensboro, N.C., Shawn attended James B. Dudley High school. When Shawn was a student, the student population was predominantly black. As a student, Shawn believes he and his classmates weren’t given the support needed to explore their career options post-high school. “I always knew I wanted to work in some public service area, but I had no idea of how to get started or who to talk to,” Shawn explained. “Our school counselors weren’t effectively guiding us in the area of career development when I was in school.” Although grateful for his education, Shawn admits that African American students were not being prepared and informed in the same way their counterparts were. When Greensboro’s first black Police Chief, Sylvester Daughtry, visited Dudley high school, Shawn’s vision of the future began to take shape. “It just happened that when I was trying to figure out what public service looked like for me and where to start, I was given a little divine help. The first black chief of police, Sylvester Daughtry, came and spoke at our school. I was impressed and excited. This was someone who looked like me, and there he was, the chief of police. As a young black male, it said that if he could do it, I could do it too. That was a very important moment for me.” Shawn admits as he looks back that his excitement faltered when the realities of life hit. “I wish we would have had what students today have in the way of counselors and mentors. We needed people willing to expose us to all that life had to offer beyond high school. That way, I could have had a clear plan of what I wanted to do. What we got instead was the pressure to graduate. It was all they focused on, ‘get out of school, get out of school,’ and that’s what I did. Without knowing what my next steps should have been, my dreams were just dreams. My reality was I needed to earn money to live.” After graduating from high school in 1992, Shawn says he worked a few small jobs. When first daughter Jonquil Smith was born, Shawn knew it was time to get serious. His serious first job was with Cone Mill in Greensboro, N.C. “I was just happy to have a steady paycheck at that point. I had a new set of adult responsibilities, and they couldn’t wait for me to figure out the future. Having children has a way of making you grow up fast,” Shawn shared. Shawn worked at the mill for three to four years, but just as he was becoming complacent, he was reminded that life had more to offer, and so did he. “It was a good job, with great benefits, and I was making decent money, allowing me to take care of my daughter. But I wasn’t following my passion for public service,” Shawn confessed. “My mom didn’t want me to settle, and she would regularly remind me that working at the mill for the rest of my life what not it. That was not a career; it was just a job. Her wisdom helped get me back on track.” Holding tight to his dreams and his mother’s words of wisdom in his ear, Shawn explored different avenues that led to the path he was meant to follow. While at Cone Mills, Shawn joined the in-house fire brigade. It was just the spark he needed to pursue the destiny he believed awaited him. “I applied to the Greensboro Fire Department several times but kept getting denied. Then a friend told me about the BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) program. Becoming a firefighter was my first choice, but law enforcement was also a way that I could serve my community, so I went for it.” On the advice of his friend Shawn, sponsored by A&T State University, he took the BLET course at Rockingham Community College. According to the North Carolina States Attorney’s website, The Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) Curriculum is designed to prepare entry-level individuals with the cognitive and physical skills needed to become certified law enforcement officers in North Carolina (NC DOJ, Basic law enforcement training 2019).
“From the moment I started as a police officer, I knew it was for me,” Shawn explains with a big smile. “Sure, there were many other public service jobs out there, but I was hooked after my first taste of law enforcement.” Not every member of Shawn’s family was as sure about the path he had taken, but still supportive. “My mother was worried about me becoming a police officer initially. She tried to get me to look into a position at the post office and everything. My father was a stonemason, and my brother worked construction, so this was totally different.” Although Shawn met his wife at A&T, they lost touch after he left. They reconnected in at the end of 2002 and were married in June of 2005. From the start of his journey, the love and support of his family are what has kept him going. “My wife and my daughters are everything to me. I am a man of faith, and it matters to have a praying wife to cover you every time you step out the door. In law enforcement, nine times out of ten, we see the worst of the worst. Death, tragedy, and people at their absolute worst and it’s hard. So, you have to have, in my opinion, a strong faith in God and the support of a loving family. Without those, I don’t think I would be sane.”
After completing the BLET, Shawn started his career as a law enforcement officer on the campus of A&T State University in 1995. “I was grateful for my job at the mill, but I knew I had to do something to build a future for myself and my daughter. Taking the BLET was a step in the right direction,” Shawn explained. It’s been said that when you are on the right path for your life, you will find everything you need for the journey along the way. While working at A&T State, Shawn first met his wife, Keffney, a student at the University at the time. Years later, they would meet again and marry, but she says she knew that he was her husband from the first moment they met. Once Shawn started in law enforcement, he knew that education was the way to move forward. While working at A&T as a law enforcement officer, Shawn went to school at Guilford Technical Community College, where he earned his associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Security in 1998. He received his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Homeland Security from Liberty University in 2016, and his master’s in Criminal Justice with a minor in Homeland Security from Cumberland University, Kentucky, in 2018. “In high school, all I wanted to do was get out. When I worked at the mill, I learned that I wouldn’t get far with only a high school diploma. Once I started at A&T, I set my sights on what would move me forward in my chosen career path… more education.” As Shawn continued to study, he took advantage of opportunities along his path. In 2000, Shawn left A&T and started at the Thomasville Police Department in Thomasville, N.C. After a year there, Shawn went to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In 2002, the law enforcement side of the NC DMV merged with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. Shawn officially became a trooper in 2006.
Shawn and his family find themselves walking a fine line in the recent clash between civilians and law enforcement. It is hard to celebrate him as an officer when there seems to always be a negative connotation around that uniform. As a black male and a law enforcement officer, you would think he would struggle between the two worlds. Shawn’s perspective is this… “You have to know what you are out there for. My job is to serve the people, even those who don’t want me to. I still have to and want to help them. I treat every situation and individual with respect because that is what we all deserve. It can be difficult at times because I still have young daughters who hear negative things at school or in the neighborhood. That’s why we talk with our children and we communicate regularly. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that my children know who their father is and that I love them.” He also said his family can’t wear any paraphernalia outside of the home in fear of putting us in harm’s way. As Master Trooper Shawn Harvin walks his destiny path, he continues to honor God, himself, his family, and people have noticed. Shawn received the North Carolina 2021 State Trooper of the year award and has been featured on Fox 8 News “Highlighting Heroes.” Shawn works with several community service groups, including his church, True Salvation Christian Fellowship, and the Masons. He is a certified EMS for Guildford County, and he teaches law enforcement at several local community colleges. It’s clear that Shawn loves what he does, but he is realistic about the future. “I’m forty-nine years old, soon to be fifty. I know I won’t be able to do what I do and keep up this pace forever, but I will do whatever I can to make a difference while I can. When I retire, I will focus on my other passion, photography.” Like with every other thing Shawn puts his hands to, he is no slouch as a photographer either. His photos have been featured on the Food Network channel, Essence Magazine, and MunaLuci Bride Magazine. Some of his pictures will also be featured at Massanutten Ski Lodge Resort. “I want to build something for my daughters. Something they can be proud of and that will help carry them forward. Something that will help them as they discover their path to destiny.” h
Huntsville - May/June 2022
Beacon Hill Community Services, Inc. 30
Huntsville - May/June 2022
By Ellen Richardson Photos by Pamela Williams
As someone who has always enjoyed telling comeback stories, I have to say that I am excited to tell the story of Beacon Hill native Pamela Williams. This inspiring woman and current Founder and Executive Director of Beacon Hill Community Services, Inc. has spent her entire life giving back to others. “I grew up in a small community on the west side of Chicago Heights called Beacon Hill,” said Williams. “During my time growing up here, this community was so close-knit, and everyone took care of one another. My neighbors and I were so willing to give back to each other.” At the age of 16, Williams began serving as a tutor for the Community Education Service Center. “The organization purchased a home in Beacon Hill where they began a tutoring program and other educational services for young kids inside the community. I worked as a tutor for third and fourth graders who were struggling within our local elementary school, eventually moving to work within the social services realm. Unlike most teenagers, I never flipped burgers or worked in any of the traditional jobs that most teenagers do. Instead, I pursued jobs that allowed me to give back to my community.” Although Williams’ heart for her community would begin to pave a road toward a successful future, the newest heart of Beacon Hill would have to overcome what many of us do – a roadblock on the pathway of life. “I became a first-time mother at the age of 19, and by the time that I was 22-yearsold, I was an unwed single mother of three children. Those new responsibilities quickly plunged me into poverty,” said Williams. “I was on welfare, receiving Section 8 housing benefits and food stamps.” Despite being in a difficult situation, Williams continued to let her determination and faith in God lead her toward turning her life around for both herself and her three boys. This “never say die spirit” kept Williams on a challenging road for the next ten years and gave her the knowledge and experience that she would need to follow her God-given destiny. “For ten years, I was working menial/low-paying jobs such as answering phones and being a clerk typist. However, the benefit was that I stayed in the social services world. I may have been at the bottom of the ladder, but I took time to soak in everything that I could to learn about social services. That is where I received my boots on the ground education,” she says. After years of struggle and lack, she began to see things turn around. “At the age of 29, I wrote my first rent check, and things began to fall into place. I am so grateful to have gone through what I did because it allows me to relate to the people that I now serve. I’m not just talking the talk, but I’ve walked the walk. I now have empathy and compassion for people who struggle as I did. I can meet them where they are and provide them with the same help and compassion that I received while working my way up,” she shared. As Williams continued on her journey, she would eventually give birth to an organization that would give back to the same neighborhood that had once supported her. “I started Beacon Hill Community Services, Inc. on a whim,” said Williams. “I was only planning to have one event, but God had other plans.”
Huntsville - May/June 2022
After attending her high school reunion in 1999, and spending time reminiscing with other Beacon Hillers about the way things were, Williams decided to develop an annual event known as the Beacon Hill Family Reunion (BHFR). The first event was a dinner designed to reunite past and present residents and bring resources into a declining neighborhood. It was also attended by 98 former neighborhood residents from 22 states. “Witnessing this miracle confirmed what we once had in Beacon Hill was real,” said Williams. This resurgence of hope quickly grew into an annual reunion event that started with one dinner and grew into a whole weekend of events. Everything is free to the public and includes a parade and a Family Fun Day in the park where attendees can enjoy free food and entertainment. There is a career resource booth, free dental and health care screenings, haircuts for children, and a book bag and school supply giveaway. “We are now approaching our twelfth year, and more former residents from all over the country are attending,” said Williams. Soon Williams would convert the annual event into a nonprofit organization. “I had already been working and had years of experience in social services and workforce development. So I decided to marry my career with the endeavor to give back to the neighborhood that had raised me,” she says. After launching Beacon Hill Community Services, Inc. in 2010, Williams used her experience to assist the organization in serving the entire Chicago Southland area. “Due to the support from people from all over the country, we are able to provide over 200 food baskets to families in need throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Last Christmas, we gave out over 300 toys to kids in need through our Toys for Tots campaign. We also deliver food baskets to the elderly through Chicago’s Southland and help residents find jobs. Even more, we provide free clothing and anything else needed to take care of the people who live in this community. I always tell people that we are a small organization with a big mission,” she said. To find out more about Pamela Williams or Beacon Hill Community Services, Inc, please visit their website or contact her directly.
Beacon Hill Community Services
Huntsville - May/June 2022