My Dreams Are Windows To My Freedom
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.
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.
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.
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.
Terry L Watson Publisher
Dorjae’ McClammey Writer
Terry L. Watson Writer Joy Rogers Writer Monica Montgomery Writer
Still Shots Photography Photographer Todd Youngblood Photographer
Howard Gaither Photography
From homelessness to becoming one of the top busienss leaders in his community.
Her focus is to unite communities using language as the connecting tool. Learn more about her company.
Little Rock, AR
This young engineer is making waves at NASA and in his community as an entrepreneur.
Let Me Write It For YouBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Debra Ann Matthews
Do you have an updated and effective resume on hand? Are you in need of grant writing services for your business or organization? If so, there is someone available to meet your needs.
Debra Ann Matthews is the owner of Let Me Write It For You, a writing servicefocused company that offers writing services for resumes, cover letters, business writing, capability statements, grant assistance, pitch verbiage, research, and more. In short, Debra’s services focus on anything written, researched, or evaluated.
Debra Ann is a Tennessean and cares about her community. Her love is displayed as she educates, supports, and serves. She has motivated career changers and job seekers, from high school to senior citizens. Additionally, Debra Ann is widely recognized as a professional resume writer and certified JCDC/JCTC coach.
Debra Ann’s venture in business began in 2009. She had purchased her house, ordered some business cards, and started writing resumes. “I had learned of someone who worked for a resume business owner but was being deployed from our community. I thought that I would love to have a resume writing business and decided to give it a try,” she says.
Debra Ann has worked in career coaching for youth and young adults. She has also partnered with job seekers of all ages. She had the relationships, the connections, and most importantly, the determination to succeed and the rest is history.
“I had learned of someone who worked for a resume business owner but was being deployed from our community.
I thought that I would love to have a resume writing business and decided to give it a try.”
Debra Ann says the best part of what she does is the opportunity to work with motivated job seekers and career changers. “If you are willing to work with me, then we can showcase your marketable skills. For me, it’s not about only receiving payment, it’s all about helping my clients understand how to become successful job seekers, how to leverage their interview for success, and showing them what the market is looking for,” she says.
She also reflects on her family’s legacy and what her predecessors endured and had to overcome in life. She says, “Knowing that my parents picked cotton impacts me. My father picked cotton on the plantation of the Mississippi Senate majority leader. My uncle was run out of town by the KKK, and I have another uncle who escaped Mississippi in the 1960s and ran west because black workers who were valuable to white plantation owners could not come and go as they desired. The history books are living documents in my family. They are full of pain, unfair treatment, nonpayment, free labor, no justice, and other issues that happened as a result of life in Mississippi during those days. Knowing that has motivated me to keep on in this life until I win on this side of heaven.”
Debra Ann’s love of Christ and her calling to serve definitely plays a role in who she is. “It’s a natural part of my culture. I do not exist only for myself. I exist to represent my culture, my race, my family, and my community.”
For Debra Ann, her advice to others who may follow a similar path as she has is this. “Join professional associations and serve in them. You must continue collaborating with your colleagues and remember that you are not competing with them. In my business, we share the secrets, and we are taught that there is enough business for us all.”
As she looks to the future, Debra Ann’s goal is to add corporate accounts to her business services and regain her physical wellness. She also plans to keep soaring, expand the services she offers, and acquire international clientele.
To learn more about Let Me Write It For You, please visit their website. h
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.”
Cutest BabyThe daughter of Brianna Jackson Granddaughter of Ed & Raquel Browning Great Granddaughter of Annie Browning & Lisa
Tasha Teaches SpanishBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Rolando Ochoa of Integro Photography
For Arkansas native LaTasha Moore, those words are a foundation on which she stands. She is a wife, mother, striving entrepreneur, and countrywoman at heart, hailing from the small southwestern town of Falcon.
LaTasha is a woman full of wisdom and credits being born to elderly parents giving her the advantage of seeing life differently at an early age. She believes that titles and accolades don’t mean anything if one’s character is not exemplary. She is also someone who has accomplished a great deal in life. Some things include closing in obtaining her Master of Arts in Spanish degree from the University of Central Arkansas. That feat complements her Masters in Public Health she acquired from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Arkansas State University. LaTasha has also lived and worked in Spain as an assistant English teacher through the North American Language and Culture Assistant program.
Currently, LaTasha is the face and founder of Tasha Teaches Spanish. Her company’s focus is to unite communities through language. “We know that learning the Spanish language shouldn’t be limited to school and college classrooms. People need Spanish education in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons, and we exist to meet that need,” she says.
LaTasha shares her company began on a God-fixed plan. “In 2018, I had just been laid off after only one year of teaching Spanish at an area charter school. Pregnant with my first child, I needed a source of income even though my thenpartner (now husband) had offered to handle the bulk of the finances. One day I received the divine thought to make a post on my personal Facebook page stating that I would teach and tutor Spanish lessons. By the end of the day, my post had over 100 likes and 40 shares. This made me realize there was a market and a need for my talents.”
Four years later, LaTasha’s business is running better than ever. She’s contracted six teachers, obtained an office space, and carries out various services and programs to serve her students and community. Some of her achievements since opening the doors of LaTasha Teaches Spanish are being the Winner of the 2020 BIG Pitch competition, Winner of the 2020 Entrepreneurs Unlimited pitch competition, Winner of the 2020 Little Rock Regional Emerging Minority Business of the Year Award, 2022 Little Rock Regional Minority Business of the Year finalist, and acceptance into the 3rd Cohort of the WEM Hub program sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. She is also the 2022 recipient of the Small Business Growth Fund grant.
“We know that learning the Spanish language shouldn’t be limited to school and college classrooms. People need Spanish education in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons, and we exist to meet that need.”
Besides helping others become the best version of themselves, LaTasha loves her life’s calling. “I thoroughly enjoy helping people remove self-imposed barriers and fears when learning Spanish. I enjoy helping them realize that they don’t have to be worried about perfection when beginning their language-learning journey. I encourage my students to be serious about learning, study often, and be committed to reaching a high level of fluency. I am happy when they can connect with Spanish speakers in their communities, churches, at local festivals, etc.,” she says.
LaTasha says s he is inspired by the possibility of a more lingually diverse state. “The Pew Research Center puts Arkansas in the bottom five states for Spanish education. My brand, Tasha Teaches Spanish, exists to change that,” she shares. “When we think of new programs and services to offer, we keep in mind that we want to contribute to improving the Spanish language learning all over the state, not only in our area. This year we will begin to host our annual Spanish camp in different regions, and our long-term goal is to bring a Spanish language immersion school to Arkansas.”
Like many entrepreneurs, there was a time in business when LaTasha only made money through it. She shares that she did not work another job and had to rely on others for her financial wellbeing. “Humans are shaky. They are committed today and gone tomorrow. The high and low seasons of business often resulted in me being in financial binds,” she says. That was challenging for her, but she persevered.
While the journey has been unique and even challenging at times, LaTasha says there aren’t many things she would change about the way things have happened. “I would change our initial hiring practices and staff training. I was the only teacher from 2018-2020, and in 2021 we began contracting teachers to work for us. However, my hiring process was not thorough, and we ended up acquiring a few teachers that were not good fits for the role. Additionally, I failed to see the importance of frequent staff training throughout the year, and I wish I had started that sooner as well,” she says.
The future is looking bright and promising for Tasha Teaches Spanish. This year, there are plans to expand their Spanish summer camp to different regions in Arkansas. They also host community events such as trivia and movie nights, and in December 2023, they will carry out a Spanish Christmas children’s choir. Their long-term goal is to open a Spanish immersion school. Please visit their website
Notice Andre LLCBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Andre Notice
It all comes down to how badly someone want to succeed.
Andre Notice of Houston, TX, describes himself as a purpose-driven, hungry and inspirational businessman. He is also a friend, son, uncle and man who loves God. While making moves in the Houston area, Andre says his primary focus is to leave a stamp on the earth and leave a legacy.
Andre is the owner of Notice Andre LLC. Under that brand, Andre manages several entities, including Realtor, Coach, Investor, Purpose Coach, Author, and Speaker.
Andre says he first began with real estate in 2004. Now entering his 18th year as a licensed, top-producing realtor, he is setting his sights on helping others achieve their dreams. The road has sometimes been challenging for Andre. He has managed a few trials and storms along the way but has yet to lose sight of his purpose. He shares, “When I first began, I was met with failure and opposition. I have experienced homelessness along my journey, and I have even lived with friends and family while finding my way.” He remained determined, and his persistence eventually paid off. He began hosting home-buying seminars and engaged in speaking engagements. Soon the word quickly spread about the new face in real estate in his community.
“When I first began, I was met with failure and opposition. I have experienced homelessness along my journey, and I have even lived with friends and family while finding my way.”
Through his coaching programs, Andre strives to show others how to spend the next phase of their lives in a manner that helps them to reach their fullest potential. “I show others how to feel alive,” he shares.
Andre’s commitment to excellence has been acknowledged by his peers, colleagues, and community members. “There was a period when I looked tirelessly for opportunities. With grace, things are working more in my favor, and I am experiencing an overflow.,” he says. Andre’s love for his community hasn’t changed either, as he still leads with passion and takes advantage of the opportunities he has to serve.
“I am truly living when I am growing, going and giving. This means when I am growing myself, giving my time, energy and experience, and going somewhere meaning and fulfilling a purpose. Most importantly, I understand that everything I do isn’t about me.”
The only thing Andre shares that he would have changed about how things have happened for him is to purchase a home sooner. Andre’s advice is clear for those who may follow in his footsteps or may experience some of the same challenges that he has.
DON’T GIVE UP! You’re not a failure when you fail. You’re a failure when you give up. These hard times are just a test. Pass the test and learn from it and remember to share what you’ve learned with others.”
In the future, Andrea says he plans to retire his mother soon. He also has some plans in store to expand all aspects of his business and obtain properties all around the world. By the looks and sounds of it, Andre is sure to accomplish everything he sets his eyes on.
To learn more about Andre Notice, please visit his website.
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.
Reketta Brown Thrive Foundation
523 Simpson Street - Greensboro, NC 2740 www.thrive-wellness.org email@example.com 336-816-2389
Darrell Woodard Woodard Decking & FencingBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Darrell Woodard
Darrell Woodard of Huntsville, Alabama, is a gogetter. At just 33 years of age, he has accomplished a great deal. He is a father and an impressive businessman.
Darrell graduated from Alabama A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. While in college, he was accepted into the Pathways Program at NASA. A semester before his graduation date, NASA had already offered Darrell an entry-level engineering position that he graciously accepted. He has worked as an electrical designer for NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for over ten years. He has been involved with various projects at the International Space Station.
Darrell’s two-year-old daughter Layla, he says, is the light of his life. “She melts my heart, and everything I do is to secure a better life for her.” He grew up in a stable home with both parents, Victoria and Darrell, two brothers, Darion and Charles, and one sister Beonka. “I watched my dad work his way up from being a janitor to becoming an operating room technician at Huntsville Hospital. My dad has always inspired me to understand and trust the process of anything in life. I believe I obtained my work ethic from my mom. She was self-employed and ran a home cleaning business while working as the store manager at Bruster’s Real Ice-cream. My parents have always stressed the importance of helping others, and I think that played a major role in helping shape the man I am today.”
In addition to his commitment to NASA, Darrell is also the owner of Woodard Decking & Fencing. Launched in 2018, his company specializes in building top-quality privacy fences at affordable prices. They also can construct decks of any style and recently started offering rod iron, aluminum, chain link, and vinyl fencing. Darrell’s services are offered at the commercial and residential levels.
Woodard Decking & Fencing’s motto is “WE TREAT YOUR YARD AS IF IT WERE OUR OWN”. Darrell says he had no real intentions of starting a business; it just happened. I bought my first home in August 2017 and became interested in adding a privacy fence allowing my dog to roam freely in the backyard. I called a few companies and obtained a few quotes
for comparison purposes. The quotes intrigued me, mainly because I saw the bulk of the cost was labor on most of the quotes. I started watching YouTube videos on how to build a fence and soon realized that this was something I could do. I built the fence with the assistance of my dad and brother, and it wasn’t perfect by a long shot, but I was satisfied. I learned some do’s and don’ts that I had missed in the videos. Occasionally, I do ride by my old home to see that fence, and it serves as a reminder where it all started. As of today, my company has built over 150 fences in the north Alabama area and as far as Nolensville, TX.”
The experience that Darrell’s company offers is a personable one, and he says it separates him from others in the industry. “As the owner, I prioritize communicating with every customer who decides to go with my company. I personally lay eyes on every project my staff builds, ensuring that it is built to my standards. I take much pride in doing great work consistently. It brings me joy to see the smiling faces of my customers as we are doing the final walk-through to verify they are pleased with the job completed, and that’s what I love most,” he says.
God placed some very impactful people in Darrell’s life, and he is appreciative of that. While growing up, he had two neighbors who were both engineers, Charles Gamble and Lawanna Harris, both of whom were well respected at Marshall Space Flight Center. Darrell credits them with guiding him on a career path early into his childhood. He also credits his uncle James White for introducing him to electronics. His uncle taught him how to install car audio systems at age 13. He also acknowledges several teachers and coaches he encountered while growing up for having a positive impact on his life and future.
Darrell says, “The future truly inspires me. Watching my beautiful daughter grow up daily, and watching my business grow, inspires me to keep going, keep pushing, and keep striving to defy the odds. Creating generational wealth is what inspires me.” If he could rewrite his business journey, Darrell says he would have started his business much sooner. Yet, he believes in God’s timing, and I understand that without purchasing his first home, the interest wouldn’t have ever occurred.
Darrell advises other aspiring entrepreneurs to be patient, study, and diligently work on their craft. He also advises surrounding yourself with good people and always treat others how you would like to be treated. “Surround yourself with people who see your vision, surround yourself with people who support your vision, and always remember the people who helped you along the way, and never stop believing in yourself.”
Looking towards the future, Darrell says his goal is to continue building his brand according to God’s plan. To learn more about Woodard Decking & Fencing, please contact him directly.
2nd Semester Consignment ShopBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Monica Grays
How important are teachers’ roles in educating and preparing young people for the future? An appropriate answer would be vitally important. In today’s classrooms, teachers are presented with various challenges. Still, one that remains at the forefront is having adequate tools and resources to aid in the deployment of their instruction. Fortunately, there is someone who has stepped into the gap.
Monica Grays of Cleveland, OH, is the owner of 2nd Semester Consignment Shop. Her company is a resale education store and tutoring program. They help local teachers and parents who are operating on a budget educate children by recycling new and gently used educational materials. Her tutoring program serves students in grades PreK12, in all subjects.
2nd Semester was born in 2016 after Monica switched positions and realized there was no place to store or sell her materials, which were compiled over 20 years. “My husband suggested I take them to the consignment shop. After much research, I realized that no such shop existed. So, three months later, 2nd Semester Consignment Shop arose as the only consignment store for education,” she says.
For the past 25 years, Monica has taught elementary and gifted education in the City of Cleveland. She is a mother of five children and has enjoyed eighteen years of marriage with her husband. She says she loves the Lord and loves to serve her community.
“My husband suggested I take them to the consignment shop. After much research, I realized that no such shop existed. So, three months later, 2nd Semester Consignment Shop arose as the only consignment store for education.”
Monica says she loves serving and helping individuals. “I help teachers save money, lots of money on their classroom’s needs. I also provide free business training to local small business owners. My goal is to help other small businesses by establishing a free and comfortable environment to learn and grow,” she shares.
One of the biggest struggles in Monica’s business was a need for more knowledge. As a result, she hid away, hoping to figure out how to grow without the help of others. After years of figuring it out, she connected with some programs designed to help small businesses. This exposed her business to more opportunities and resources she didn’t know existed. That lesson was something Monica needed, and she says, “I appreciate the support of family and friends, and I advise against any new business owner to do what I did. Instead, I would encourage them to seek counseling or coaching support to begin their journey.”
As Monica prepares for the future, education and being a resource for students and teachers will continue to be her primary focus. She says, I will continue helping and serving others. However, God leads me. My very next colossal project is called Naomi. After a very discouraging report about Cleveland being the worst livable city, I decided it was time for our local African-American women to begin a change. This event will allow our women to get together to start a conversation about how we can impact the future of women in Cleveland,” she says.
Additional information about the Naomi Women of Distinction Luncheon can be found at www.naomicle.com. For more information about 2nd Semester Consignment Shop, please visit their website.