My Dreams Are Windows To My Freedom
A Letter From The Editor
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
Monica Montgomery Writer
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.
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?
Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor
Terry L. Watson Writer Joy Rogers Writer Dorjae’ McClammey Writer
Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove
Smitha Lee Photographer Rolando Ochoa Photographer Ithiell Yisrael Photographer
Todd Youngblood Photography
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Editor/Founder
Terry L. Watson
Perfect Lenz Photography Shaw Photography Group Still Shots Photography Who Shotya Photography
Howard Gaither Photography
(336) 340-7844 On The Cover
HUAMI MAGAZINE is published 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 E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
GhosTown Music Group
This young engineer is making waves at NASA and in his community as an entrepreneur.
If everything else fails, love will make the difference. She is the face of More Than A Mother. Learn more about her journey. Greenville, SC
Ryan and Cherri Dixon Together, they make up the Dixon Group. Learn more about how they connected and started their lives together.
GhosTown Music GroupBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by GMG Mack
When it comes to music, he has got it.
New York native GMG Mack is the owner of GhosTown Music Group. His company offers services such as Original Music Production, Recording Studio Engineering, Songwriting, Sound Mixing and Mastering, Painting, and Graphic Design.
Mack, which he can be acknowledged by, was born to a musical family. His dad and uncles were musicians and played in their church, and were members of various Gospel and R&B bands. Mack is the oldest of two brothers and shares that he took great pride in education and creative arts throughout childhood. Mack wears many hats. He is a music Produce, Studio Engineer, Songwriter, Artist, Freelance Painter, Graphic Designer, and Shoe and Apparel Customizer. He is also a graduate of Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
“I feel connected to people who appreciate my creativity and love being able to impact someone emotionally through art.”
“With my dad and uncles being musicians, I was always surrounded by music. We had a rehearsal space that was converted into a recording studio in my home,” he says. At a young age, Mack’s musical abilities became apparent. He composed and recorded his first original short song in Kindergarten for his classmates. He also began playing drums for his church choir at age nine and making beats at age 12. By 15, Mack was working in recording studios and engineering studio sessions. He founded GhosTown Music Group in 2014, designed his first pair of custom shoes in 2017, using pens and markers, and painted on his first pair in 2018.
Mack says he has an extremely strong emotional connection to music. “I love the reaction and responses from people when I create something they like. I feel connected to people who appreciate my creativity and love being able to impact someone emotionally through art.”
With GhosTown Music Group, Mack has faced some challenges. From partnerships that went sour to issues with cash flow, Mack has been able to persevere and remain dedicated to the end goal which is financial independence and generational wealth. Another challenge he has faced and is learning to take breaks, and staying disciplined.
Overall, Mack shares that he is thankful for his journey. As he looks to the future, he plans to release more music with artist and brother Troyce Dope. He also intends to engage in additional music collaborations with local and major artists. Regarding art, Mack has his eyes set on canvas and mural painting commissions, custom shoes, and clothing projects. He also looks forward to offering online custom shoes and music production courses.
To learn more about GhosTown Music Group, please visit their website.
Her Love For Dance Makes The DifferenceBy Dorjae’ McClammey Photos Provided by Photography by Bricen and Crush Photography
The only thing that has changed at Conyers, GA, based In the Key of Dance Studio, is they are better than before. Owner and founder Nykisha Banks continues to share her love for dance and people. Her creativity is running at full throttle, and her business and ability to connect with her village have positioned her company as one of the best in the country. In 2021, she became a member of the Rockdale County Chamber of Commerce and In The Key of Dance Studio won the Rockdale Newton Best of the Best 2022 award.
“Our goal is to be a studio based on technique and not recognized as a recreational program,” Nykishs says. Their motto is ‘Progress over Perfection’” Her students are constantly progressing, but she never wants them to feel like it has to be perfect.
Hailing from New Orleans, LA, Nykisha Banks has enlightened others with dance since the age of three. Now, with twenty years of experience in dance, it has become clear that answering her calling in life was the correct thing to do. She continues to push not only her students but herself as well. “I am doing everything I can, inside and outside the studio, to grow it and take it to unseen levels,” she says.
Growing a business can be tiresome and exhausting, and that is why Nykisha is also focusing more time on self-care. “I am pushing myself to see friends more and talk with them more often. I think that’s healthy, and if I’m healthy, then the studio can stay healthy,” she says.
Nykisha, who is also a published author, has enjoyed success in publishing also. Her latest production, “A Dancer’s Leap Into Accountability” has done very well. Even more, her nonprofit organization, In the Key of Dance Performing Arts Inc. continues to benefit from her book sales.
Serving others is very important to Nykisha, and she has always made it a priority to give back to her community. In December of last year, In The Key of Dance Studio presented a Christmas production, and the proceeds were donated to an organization that helps kids with disabilities. Every kid that participated in the show gave another kid with some disability a Christmas gift. Nykisha continues to show that love begins with giving.
As the new year settles in, the demand for In The Key of Dance Studio is increasing. Nykisha has seen a rise in requests for them to perform, with the most recent being at the We3 Women’s Conference in Conyers. They have also performed at conferences, assisted living homes, and more.
Registration at In The Key of Dance Studio is held twice a year. Additionally, Nykisha conducts an annual summer camp, and she plans to convert it into a boot camp.
Her heart genuinely leans toward serving and Nykisha continues to give kids a comforting and positive environment to excel in. “I want them to feel like they have a voice in my studio because they do. Here, they can be kids, learn to dance, and be heard,” she says.
Presently, Nykisha is hard at work addressing the ongoing presence of Covid and new public health concerns in RSV. On a good note, she is able to manage a good challenge, which is high enrollment. These new demands could possible result with Nykisha hiring a second instructor.
Despite these new challenges, Nykisha’s inspiration has not changed. Her focus is to help her students become the best they can be. Looking ahead, In the Key of Dance plans to move into a much larger studio. Nykisha also wants to focus on structure and technique.
In closing, Nykisha encourages others who may aspire to follow a path similar to the one she has is to continue to educate themselves. “Stick to your guns, do not waiver, and stay consistent. If you’re not stern about your values, no one will respect or trust you, because inconsistency is not order.” To find out more about Nykisha Banks and her book, please visit her website.
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.
visit their website to learn more about Tasha Teaches Spanish.
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.
Jay & Jah Films LLCBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Ithiell Yisrael & Shawn Yabui
The easiest way to reach someone at their level is to know what it’s like to be there.
Pensacola, FL, native and resident Jermaine J. Williams is a man full of culture, experience, and determination. He is also someone who has clawed his way from the pits of despair and found a new footing in life by way of helping and serving others.
Jermaine is a Documentary Filmmaker, Author, Executive Producer, and advocate for positive mental health and social change. He owns Jay & Jah Films LLC, a production company producing substance-filled television and film content. His company is currently in talks with a few television networks for Rescue Addiction. This production follows Jermaine as he and his team enter crises to save those faced with addiction. It also works to educate their family/friends to help provide a breakthrough moment for all parties involved. “Our production company’s first project, the documentary “I Had To Change: The Story Of Jermaine J. Williams,” paved the way for Rescue Addiction by winning four awards worldwide in various film festivals,” he says.
In addition to managing his production company, Jermaine works as a Certified Recovery Peer Specialist with the State of Florida. This commitment pulls at Jermaine’s heartstrings because he can relate to the challenges of those he serves. He shares his testimony in an effort to help others understand his purpose.
“It was a Sunday morning, on November 29, 2015. I’ll never forget that date or day. I was on the heels of an all-night binge of cocaine and alcohol. After failed rehab stints years earlier, I had grown tired of having no control over something that had controlled me. I thought of a plan to die by suicide and was ready to execute it. But my only concern was my family finding my lifeless body in my room. So I regrouped my thoughts and exercised my faith in God. Even under the influence of substances, God began to show me that He had had enough of the punishment with which I had afflicted myself. I made it downstairs just in time to catch my family before they departed for church. I told them I had had enough, and I was done. I joined hands with my aunt, mother, and grandmother and
began to pray in complete surrender. I had been invited by a friend to church the Friday before, and I then called and told him I would like to take him up on the invitation. During praise and worship, I sat and sulked, while the rest of the congregation was standing and singing. At that time, I heard a faint but mighty voice say, “If you want to be done with this forever, you have to praise me like you never did before. I jumped to my feet during three consecutive songs and began to lift my hands in complete surrender. I was crying, foaming at the mouth, speaking in tongues with no regard for who was watching me. That was big for me because up until that moment, I had been concerned with how I was perceived. I struggled with a cocaine and alcohol addiction for thirteen years. It was the most challenging fight of my life. That day was seven years ago, and I’ve had no desire for drugs and alcohol and have enjoyed sobriety ever since,” Jermaine shared.
After reaching sobriety, Jermaine realized he had a unique story, and I wanted to tell that story to inspire others. He says from a teenager to early adulthood, he produced music. Along the way, he became a community activist who built a rapport in the political arena with an uncanny ability to speak out for those in his community. He has done this by coordinating campaigns, rallies, and more. Jermaine also wrote a religious thriller, “My Brother, The Devil, & Me.” He has also produced the documentary “I Had To Change: The Story Of Jermaine J. Williams”.
Various life experiences have inspired Jermaine. His father died when he was six years old. A drunk driver took Jermaine says, took his father away from me. Shortly after that, his aunt introduced him to the lifes’ work of Malcolm X, and Malcolm X, Jermaine says, became a father from the grave to him.
Jermaine shares he believes it is essential to help others because everyone will need help with something at one point or another. “I must pay it forward because I know what it feels like to receive support or go without it. It’s a matter of what feeling we want to leave with others. I hope it’s not the latter,” he says.
Jermaine’s work as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist with Here Tomorrow, a nonprofit based in Jacksonville, FL, is what he loves most about what he does. “At Here Tomorrow, I take calls for 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and serve as a peer counselor to individuals who suffer from addiction and mental diagnoses. I also facilitate support groups,” he says.
As he looks towards the future, Jermaine says his goal is to engage in transition talks with television networks and finalize contracts for Rescue Addiction. “We are very, very close to that. The pilot episode is completed and receiving rave reviews from industry insiders,” Jermaine says. In addition to the novel he is working on, which includes a feature film segment, Jermaine has four other completed scripts in line. He also plans to lobby the DCF managing entity of his home county of Escambia, to advocate for mental health funding for Pensacola and surrounding areas. Something he will never cease doing is working to break the stigma surrounding mental health in the African American community.
My Brother, The Devil, & Me (Novel) is available on Amazon.
I Had To Change: The Story Of Jermaine J. Williams is available on YouTube.
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.
Love Made It WorkBy Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Chris Kelly of KB Photography and Smitha Lee Photography
At home, casual, with life whizzing around her at the speed of light, Javion (Woods) Whetstone is in control. Mrs. Whetstone, as of November 19, 2022, is a beautiful and vibrant thirty-seven-year-old wife, mom, and entrepreneur. Javion Whetstone is a life coach and the founder of the nonprofit organization “More Than a Mother.”
This organization offers women with vision, goals, and passion the opportunity to thrive in a supportive community. Women ready to overcome the fear of being able to balance more can find transparency, encouragement, strategy, and a community of powerful women capable of achieving the support needed.
Because of her focus and dedication to helping women and families thrive beyond the fray, Javion has received many accolades and awards. She was awarded the 2020 Women of Excellence award. Then in 2021, she was recognized as one of Greenville’s Best and Brightest Under 35. At a glance, Javion makes being a mompreneur look easy. But Javion will be the first to tell you it’s not.
At age thirty-seven, Javion is an active mother of eleven… I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. Married to her first husband at the age of fifteen, Javion officially started her journey of motherhood. But she had been in training for it all her life. Javion assumed the role of mother and caregiver before the age of ten years old.
“I grew up in an abusive household because my mom struggled with addiction. To survive and take care of myself and my baby sister, I had to grow up fast,” Javion said. “My mother was often incapacitated, so I cared for her too. I’d stay up late waiting for her to come home because I knew she would need help. She often came home having soiled herself or with cuts and wounds that needed addressing. I had to bathe her and put her to bed. My mother was regularly assaulted because of her lifestyle,” Javion explained.
At an early age, Javion knew all too well the struggles of motherhood. As a child or “dependent caregiver,” she had to be creative and resourceful to meet her family’s basic needs. “I did what I had to do to feed my sister and me. As a child not of legal working age, I had few options. We lived in the Bronx, New York, then, and I used to bag groceries at a store called Associates. I collected and recycled cans. I flipped food stamps for cash. I would steal laundry detergent at the laundromat when people turned their backs so I could wash our clothes. Basically, I found ways to get money.”
Javion lived in an intense and constant mode of survival. To escape the daily struggle and cycle of abuse and neglect, Javion took the opportunity to leave New York. But it wasn’t the solution she hoped it would be. Javion searched for structure and stability, but most of all, peace. Unfortunately, that is not what she found.
“I moved to Clinton, North Carolina when I was twelve to live with my grandparents and three siblings. What I found there was a family with a lot of buried trauma. I learned that the toxicity I experienced from my mother was generational. I didn’t understand that at the time because it was hidden behind a thick vale of religious misinformation,” Javion explained.
“My grandfather was a deacon in the Apostolic church. This religion was extremely restricting and controlling, especially toward women,” Javion recalls. “Women weren’t allowed to wear pants, makeup, jewelry, or anything ornate. We were taught that men are the absolute authority and not to be challenged. We were being groomed to be submissive wives and dutiful mothers. We were told that’s what God ordained.”
A few years after Javion moved to North Carolina, her mother followed. She met a young minister during a weekend visit to her mother’s house. This was the man she would later marry. “I was fourteen, and he was seventeen when we met. We had this instant and then unexplainable connection. I understand now that it was a trauma bond.”
According to verywellmind.com, “trauma bonding is the attachment an abused person feels for their abuser, specifically in a relationship with a cyclical pattern of abuse.”
Raised by an abusive mother, then moved to an oppressive and abusive home with her grandparents, the trauma bond was familiar to Javion. Although she didn’t know why she was drawn to this person, Javion did understand the need to have someone who understood what she had gone through. They found solace in each other.
“Because we both suffered through childhood abuse and neglect, we found comfort in our connection. He was my safe place, and I was his. I was convinced nobody could be who we were for each other.”
The couple was forced to marry when Javion became pregnant a year after they met. “Because we weren’t married, much shame poured on us. So, after speaking to my pastor and grandmother, he asked me to marry him.” Javion quickly said yes. “I wholeheartedly loved him. There was no doubt in my mind that we were meant to be together. We were good for each other… until we weren’t.”
Marrying young wasn’t uncommon in the denomination Javion’s family subscribed to, and hiding abuse was part of her family’s history. “Four months after we were married, we had our first baby. We had a baby every ten months after that,” says Javion. Her eleven children range in age from twenty-one to six months.
Always an excellent student, Javion tried to continue her education. When she married and began having children, traditional schooling became a problem. “I missed more days than I attended, so I got my GED,” she explained. “Then I wrote to the state for permission to enter college at sixteen. My request was granted, but not long after starting, dinner was late once, and my husband forced me to quit.”
Abusers maintain their hold on their victims by destroying their self-worth and keeping them isolated. “If someone had told me then I was pretty, I wouldn’t have believed them because I had been conditioned to believe I wasn’t by the man who vowed to love and protect me,” Javion explained. A significant part of Javion’s commitment to her nonprofit is giving women the support they need to succeed and pursue their dreams. “I love my children and wouldn’t trade them for the world. And despite being young, I was married when I had my children. That didn’t keep people from treating me as a pariah,” she said, recalling the embarrassment she was made to feel because she had so many children. This societal shame Javion experienced made it hard to ask for help.
During the eleven years, Javion was married to her first husband; she suffered frequent physical, mental, and emotional abuse. “Image was everything to him. He was a young man in the church who went on to pastor because of his talent and charisma. Everyone loved him, and he loved being loved. The issue was that he had unresolved wounds, pent-up anger, and hurt because of his childhood. I was the closest person to him, so I was the focus of his rage.”
Javion reached out for help within her organization, but the counsel she received left her wanting. “I remember going to my spiritual leader and asking him when was it okay to leave an abusive marriage. He told me, ‘Only when you get to the point that you think he will kill you.’ I thought, who wakes up knowing that day would be the day they would die?”
After years of abuse, humiliation, and infidelity, Javion had come to the end of her rope.
Javion and her husband were on their way to a speaking engagement when they were in an accident. “This was the turning point for me. It was after the loss of my son, and I was numb,” she explained stoically. “After the accident, my husband left me in the car at the scene of the accident to go preach. When he came to the hospital, he was confronted by the doctor about his choice to leave me there. He was embarrassed, and I would pay the price.” After this episode, Javion knew it was time to leave for good.
Twenty-six and pregnant with her ninth child, Javion was starting over. “That transitional period in my life was hard. I knew nothing about life or relationships. All I knew how to do at the time was be a mother and take care of a household. And I was good at it,” Javion confessed. “We struggled in the beginning. I have been homeless, lived-in shelters, and trusted the wrong people. I’ve suffered through other bad relationships while trying to figure out who I was.”
Although she never turned her back on God, Javion was imbittered towards people. “I had to deal with my bitterness, hurt, confusion, and shame. I had been so dependent on a man to confirm my identity and my worth that I felt lost without it. But in the end, it was purposeful because it made me redefine my relationship with God.”
Purpose has brought Javion full circle. Sharing her life and testimony with women and helping them find their voices has helped her see God’s plan for her life.
“In the process of finding myself, God told me that I was more than a mother.” Initially, Javion struggled with this because since stepping out on her own, Mother was her definition. “God said there was more to me,” Javion explained. Trusting God, Javion sought out the more.
Through her nonprofit “More than a Mother,” Javion and her team help other women understand that truth. The organization maintains projects throughout the community, such as Love in Action. Love in action is a mobile washing station for the homeless. They host the annual Mom Bosses Tea party and the Domestic Violence and Breast Cancer Awareness Gala.
Their 2023 initiatives include six-month care packages for “Dependent Caregivers.” These minors, like Javion, have found themselves as the primary caregiver in their homes. They also hope to start “Help Him Heal.” A program to help men deal with childhood trauma.
Sitting next to her sleeping six-month-old baby girl, Javion says her quiver is full. She is done having children, but I have a feeling she’s just getting started giving birth. Acting as a midwife and birthing coach to the dreams of women from every walk of life will inspire her to continue to be More than a Mother.
“In the process of finding myself, God told me that I was more than a mother.
I initially struggled with that because mothering was all I had known since childhood. But God said there was more to me.”