Huami Magazine NY/NJ Sept./Oct. 2022

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N E W YO R K / N E W J E R S E Y

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Sept./Oct. 2022 Volume 1 Issue 10

Stone Michael Prints NY/NJ - Sept./Oct. 2022

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God’s Plan Is Greater Than Me A Letter From The Editor

There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

With every ordeal or trying circumstance, there will always be more than one way to handle them. We can face them head-on, or we can turn away and avoid any form of an altercation. No matter A Letter from the Editor what decision is made concerning the matter, the impact or effect of what we chose will most likely be waiting on the other side of our decision. That’s why I believe it’sarrive? vital toAll share our plans, thoughts with What if tomorrow didn’t of your hopes Godand beforehand and confirm His viewpoint because God’s plan is dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if greater than anything I can decide for myself. everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never

happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy Like most people, the thrill of victory is generally the reason why day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making I compete or fight. Also, if you are anything like me, I understand promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired that you may hate to lose, regardless of what is at stake. Yet, I am today? What would you do? learning that I must do a better job choosing my battles because, for the most part, every battle is not mine to fight. God desires to fight I’ve been told that I often seem like I do too much. for me, and He expects me to let go and allow Him to do His thing. Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm I’ve learned that the car drives better when He controls the wheel. believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me that I couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonder how life would I recently celebrated my birthday, and to be honest; I celebrated be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I for the entire month. That was my choice because I love birthdays. have found very on boring. my in opinion, I also used that that timeto tobe reflect whereInI am life andopportunity where I’ve is afrom. blessing that isn’t afforded everyone. challenge come I wanted to know whattoI am currentlyAdoing to get to to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? where I ultimately want to be. What was revealed is my interests and If I do nothing, I fail, and ifinI try don’t, but insteadI learned learn that efforts were possibly pointed theI wrong direction. something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in while I am blessed, God is more concerned about those individuals return acquire life.me, and when I don’t allow God to use me, He can reach beyond He isn’t able to reach them through me. Being vulnerable and a The best advice given to cooperative vessel areever attributes of me realhappened greatness;when that’ssomeone what God told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so spoke to me. I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only hope my provided. have alsoand learned theindifference between Living life as aIChristian believer God means that I must what God blesses me with and what life can burden meshow with trust God. Even during the most difficult moments, if I just as well. I compare it to knowing to be confident up for the fight and trust God while I when am fighting, I will thenand see when to be quiet, because Him move on my behalf. The things that I may be dealing with and someone may get it confused determined to be unbearable may with being arrogant. actually amount to nothing once it’s placed in God’s hand. How will I ever tomorrow know if IMake don’tyou allow God to lead me? happen today, but most make it count. Godimportantly has a plan and purpose for all Life His is but a whisper and than of us, and plan is far greater we we must ourselves in a I get anything canput imagine or think. position hear whateverything it is excited when I to think about God has prepared telling us. for me. His is greater, and all I have to do is trust His process and believe what He tells me.

Terry L. Watson Terry L. Watson Editor/Founder

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November/December 2014

www.huamimagazine.com Terry L. Watson

Publisher

www.huamimagazine.com Monica Montgomery Editor In Chief Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Ellen Richardson Writer Dorjae’ McClammey Writer Writers

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336-340-7844 HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Media Company LLC Mykel MediaMykel Company. Any reproduction of any Greensboro,isNCprohibited without portion of this publication 2022 Allfrom Rightsthe Reserved written permission 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 terrywatson@huamimagazine.com terry.editor@yahoo.com or to Mykel Media Company, LLC P.O. Box 20102 Greensboro, NC 27420 HUAMI MAGAZINE 2014 All Rights Reserved

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CONTENTS

SEPT./OCT. 2022

NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY

Real Estate Is My Passion

Michelle Coleman

On The Cover

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Stone Michael Prints Marvin Nabors

Monumental Baptist Church

Pastor Cleophus Lee

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Kingzi Royal Skin Care

Richard Steadwell

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Laney Williamson

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Also Featured

Denaro Cook He spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Learn how he uses his experience to help others. Little Rock, AR

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Karen Boulden The challenges that come with broken homes can be devastating. Learn how her company helps to ease the burdens. Greenville, SC

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Kara White Learn more about this serial entrepreneur. She knows something about dance, finances, and giving back to her community. Phoenix, AZ

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Stone Michael Prints Information and Photos Provided by Marvin Nabors

Marvin Winston Nabors,40, was born and raised in Columbus, Mississippi but currently resides in the Greater DC Area with his wife and four children. He attended Columbus High School and later Stillman College. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. He also earned a commission from the University of Alabama into the US Army as a Second Lieutenant. Today, Marvin is an Engineer Officer with a functional skill-set called Information Operations Officer. He is also a Lieutenant Colonel and works for the Department of the Army Inspector General’s office assigned to the Pentagon. When not working, traveling, reading, and spending time with his family, he is spending time with his other love-writing. It has provided so much comfort, introspection, and quality time to get to know how he wants to leave a legacy. With a strong sense of family, love for his country, and his unyielding drive to change the world with one chapter at a time. Out of the acute understanding of his purpose, he birthed his author career. He wants writing to be seen as a catalyst for breathing life into people through his writing. Marvin is known in the literary world as Stone Michaels and has been a writer for over six years. His love for people, spiritual freedom, positivity and insight about how people should uplift one another is a breath of fresh air. He writes positive, inspirational books and poetry in hopes of uplifting people all around the world during some of the darkest times our country has seen in decades. He recently hosted a virtual book launch, with over 400 in attendance, in high anticipation of his two latest books, Defining ATLAS(2015) and Life, Love & You(2021). The books capture not just the heart and the mind to think of humanity in a different way. The books remind mankind where love all began and how to harness it.

Marvin’s books hold people accountable for not just their actions but their thoughts as well. His goal is for people to thrive in life rather than just survive. With being heavily influenced by his father to seize the day, he watched his dad challenge the status quo for a black man in America and wanted to follow in his footsteps in creating a progressive blueprint for others around him. Making a footprint in society is his heart’s desire, and Marvin is eager to partner with other positive organizations dedicated to holistically improving people’s lives. He’s doing just that with his latest literary works. He is working on an upcoming summit and book tour.

For more information/bookings please send a detailed email to Stone@Booksbystone.org

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Nurturing Connections LLC

Supervised Visitation Services 8

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By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Debra Attaway Photography Karen Bolden of Greenville, SC, has always been interested in helping others. Though her initial area of study in college was criminal justice, her focus changed to Social Work after determining that punishment, not rehabilitation, was the primary focus. Karen has over 20 years of experience working with children and families in need. She is a wife to James Bolden, and mother to Zion and Carter. She was born and raised in Clinton, SC, and graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. After graduating from Winthrop University, she began working with juvenile sex offenders and later with children in group home facilities. She has worked for the South Carolina Department of Social Services for 12 years as a foster care case manager, foster home licensing specialist, and as foster care supervisor. After leaving DSS, she worked as a liaison between DSS and the families who needed their services. Her goal was to help develop a plan to ensure that children and families were getting their needs met to have a safe and prosperous life without further DSS involvement. A large part of that role involved reaching out to family members to take temporary custody of the children. Finding relatives and assessing their homes was something Karen says she enjoyed. As a result, she became a Certified Investigator and began completing home assessments for relatives. Today, Karen is the owner of Nurturing Connections LLC. Nurturing Connections LLC is a supervised visitation service that provides a trained professional to monitor the contact between a non-custodial parent and their child and ensures the child’s safety during the visit. Supervision is often court ordered when there is a significant safety concern involving alleged child abuse/neglect, domestic violence, parental substance abuse, unsafe parenting practices, threat of abduction, or parental alienation. She says, “That name was chosen because I believe it is important for families to not only have supervised visits, but have an opportunity to make new memories together and nurture their connections, both new and old.” Karen shares that ongoing parental involvement can foster healthy emotional and social development for children and positive parent/child relationships. Nurturing Connections LLC provides supervised visits in public locations, and in the home of the non-custodial parent or relatives. Karen’s company also has flexible service hours designed to accommodate various school and work schedules.

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“I have been blessed with two amazing sons, the most important people in my life. I love to spend time with them and watch them grow into young men. I could not imagine not having the ability to see them daily and play a crucial role in their upbringing.”

Karen Bolden Nurturing Connections LLC www.nurturingconnectionsllc.com 864-501-4017

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So how did Karen get started? She says, “When I worked at DSS, a major part of working with families involved in foster care was ensuring that they have visitation with their families at least twice a month for one hour each visit. That limited amount of time is not enough to maintain family connections and relationships; however, that was all that DSS was able to offer. During that time, I also spent a lot of my time at family court. While waiting for a hearing, I met and befriended a private Guardian Ad Litem, Nela Laughridge. She mentioned needing someone to supervise visits on a private custody case, and I immediately offered my services. Based on my background and experience, she agreed to allow me to work with her on the case. That first case consisted of an 8-hour visit every weekend and was held in public and at the grandmother’s home. I worked with that family for several years until my services were no longer needed, and I continued to work with different families for about eight years, strictly as a side hustle. In February 2021, my contract job as a Certified Investigator ended, and would lead to me eventually stepping out on faith and creating my own opportunity.” Today, Nurturing Connections LLC currently serves families in counties within Greenville, Spartanburg, Laurens, and Anderson, SC. Karen says what she loves most about her business is watching the relationships between children and their absent parents improve. “When visits start, it can be awkward between the child and their parent, but with consistent visits and positive interactions, relationships almost always improve,” she says. She finds inspiration in the connection she has with being a parent herself. “I have been blessed with two amazing sons, the most important people in my life. I love to spend time with them and watch them grow into young men. I could not imagine not having the ability to see them daily and play a crucial role in their upbringing. I love watching them and seeing the positive relationship they have with their father, and having strong connections and bonds with family is important to the development of children,” she shared. Karen’s advice to anyone who may be considering a career in her profession is to have some experience or a background in working with children and families. She says having knowledge of family dynamics and the impact of divorce and custody issues will also be beneficial. “I would advise people not to get into this field strictly for the money. It would be best if you focused on the children and families that will benefit from your services,” she says. I-In the future, Karen says she plans to secure a brick and mortar location to offer supervised visits and co-parenting classes for participants. Please visit their website to learn more about Karen Bolden and Nurturing Connections LLC. h


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Pastor Monumental Baptist Church “When I was a teenager, I started to question my purpose in life. This was mainly due to me learning that God saw it fit for me to be born despite my mother being told she was unable to carry a child. Knowing this made me realize that I was purposed for greater and called to effect and bring change in the world.”

By Ellen Richardson Photos Provided by Pastor Cleophus Lee

What do you do when God calls you into your community and makes disciples of the masses? Obedience may be the obvious answer, and this is the story of Pastor Cleophus J. Lee. Born in Houston, TX, but currently living in Chicago, IL, he is Monumental Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor. Pastor Cleophus J. Lee first received his God calling when he was in college, but much like Jonah, he would run before Th e Great Shepherd would bring him back into the fold. “When I was a teenager, I started to question my purpose in life. This was mainly due to me learning that God saw it fit for me to be born despite my mother being told she was unable to carry a child. Knowing this made me realize that I was purposed for greater and called to effect and bring change in the world,” he says. Pastor Lee shares that he even believed at one time that God had destined him to be the next Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X. “I believed that he wanted me to help people move from where they are in life and into better opportunities,” he says. Though empowering in its nature, Pastor Lee would be pushed into a new direction, and that was ministry.

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He shares “I actually started my career by working with a non-profit organization. I also worked with social services, and because I am educated in political science, I envisioned myself going to law school to become an attorney. With a law degree in tow, I believed I would go back to my hometown community in Houston and run for city council and eventually become one of the first Black mayors in the city of Houston. This plan would conclude with me retiring as a sitting Judge.” He also notes that Malcolm X advised Black people to become involved in the political system to ensure a positive change. While attending college at Dillard University, Pastor Lee was very complacent. Things were happening the way he expected for them to happen, and for the most part, he was happy. Yet, he would find out that God had a different plan. “I started to wrestle with a call to become a preacher. During my freshman year, my cousin and I were rooming together, and after returning from a school break, he told me that he was called to preach. When he said this, I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit that said it wasn’t supposed to be him; it was supposed to be you,” he says. This prompting would send Pastor Lee on a life-enriching journey. He references Jonah, a Bible hero who a huge fish swallowed after running away from God’s plan for him. After living inside a whale’s belly for three days, Jonah prayed to the Lord. Soon the Whale relinquished the prophet onto dry land so he could start again. Like Jonah, Pastor Lee saw himself in a similar situation.

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“My life’s mission has now become to impact the people that God sends me to help them discover their God-ordained purpose.”

“Before this prompting of the Holy Spirit, I was regarded as the Black militant. I was even involved in selling drugs at one point. However, I was blessed to be able to change. I realized that if I continued on that path, I wouldn’t be able to make the difference I wanted inside of the political world. I also felt God leading me to make a difference by doing things His way versus my way. These are the things that happened which initially led me to become a pastor,” he says. Fast forward to today, and Pastor Lee has clearly answered the call on his life. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Monumental Baptist Church in Chicago and does everything he can to lead the community God has given him. “My life’s mission has now become to impact the people that God sends me to help them discover their Godordained purpose,” he said. To learn more about Pastor Cleophus J. Lee or Monumental Baptist Church, please visit their website. h

Pastor Cleophus J. Lee Monumental Baptist Church www.mbcchgo.com

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MAGAZINE

Cutest Baby

Laney Williamson The daughter of Elise Blackmon and Dante Williamson

NY/NJ - Sept./Oct. 2022

To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to huami.cutestbaby@gmail.com

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Richard Steadwell Kingzi Royal Skincare Collection

By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Todd Youngblood The first question asked of Richard was, “Who is Richard Steadwell?” The look on his face was priceless. “Of all the questions I expected to be asked, that was the one I wasn’t prepared for,” Richard explained, smiling and nervous while rubbing his cold, clammy hands. It was clear that Richard was nervous, but he slipped easily into his element as he explained his plight. Richard Steadwell is living his dream of being a self-employed entrepreneur. He owns and operates Kingzi Barbers Lounge in Concord, N.C., and the Kingzi Men’s Skincare Collection. Although Richard has always possessed the creative spirit of an entrepreneur, there were limitations he says he had to overcome before he could realize his dream. “I’ve always been good with my hands. I love being creative and using my imagination. I always knew that using those natural talents would make me happy.” Richard called himself a kitchen barber because he’s been cutting hair since he was a teenager, but he never thought of it as a career. Richard was born in North Carolina but was raised in California. In the tenth grade, he decided school wasn’t for him. He shares, “I was struggling and getting into trouble a lot. I had convinced myself that they were teaching me the things I wanted to know. Deep down, part of my reasoning was I felt like I was an embarrassment to my mother, and I didn’t want to keep putting her through that, so I quit.” Richard explained. “My mother wasn’t happy about it, but my mind was made up.” Richard’s mother gave him two options, the military or trade school. Due to health issues, the military wasn’t a good fit, so Richard went to the Earl C. Clemmons Job Corps center in Morganfield, Ky. “My mother drove me to the center because she was serious about me not sitting up in her house without a job or trade of any kind. She said if I was going to be grown, I had to make a way for myself,” he says. While in Job Corp, Richard took several certification classes, including a business course. The one thing he stayed away from was getting his G.E.D. “If I had been wise and not so worried about failing, I would have just gotten my G.E.D. while in Job Corps. Things would have been a lot easier for me, and I would be farther than I am today. But, what can I say? I was young and didn’t want to listen to anybody,” Richard explains with a laugh. In his lifetime, Richard has done just about every laborious job there is. He was a self-proclaimed jack of all trades and master of none. “Wow… I can’t even begin to name all the different jobs I’ve had in my life. I’ve done everything from working fast food to construction. And

at no time did I ever feel like I was doing the job I was meant for. I wouldn’t say I like working for other people. Plus, because I didn’t have a high school diploma or G.E.D. I couldn’t go any higher than entry-level work. It was frustrating,” Richard states. After years of going from one unfulfilling job to another, Richard decided he wanted something more. One day, not long after his fortieth birthday, Richard was sitting in his barber’s chair and shared his idea of going to barber college. The response he received was surprising. “I had been going to this same guy for over ten years, and I considered him a friend, but what he told me blew me away. He told me it was too old and it would be too hard for me to build up clientele at this point. I couldn’t believe my ears,” Richard said; still a little put off by the experience. “I was like, wow. I was not expecting that at all. When I left the shop, I kept thinking about him telling me it was too late for me. The more I thought about it, the more I was determined to prove him wrong.” Immediately Richard looked into starting barber college at Park West Barber College in Greensboro, N.C. As he read the requirements, the first thing that stopped him in his tracks was the requirement of a high school diploma or equivalent.

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“There I was again. Every time I tried to move forward, I found myself coming back to the same roadblock. All these years later, my decision to drop out of high school was still haunting me. I sat there thinking about what I wanted and the time I had wasted. I have to admit I was terrified of going back to school, but I decided I couldn’t spend one more day letting fear hold me back.” Richard enrolled at Gilford Technical Community College, Jamestown, N.C., and started working towards his G.E.D. He transferred and finished the program at Alamance Community College in Graham, NC. School was never easy for Richard, but his desire to achieve his goals was stronger than his fear of failure. “It was hard, working and going to school at the same time, but I finally knew what I was working towards. It was all going to be worth it in the end.” After completing the program, Richard had to take the G.E.D. Test. Most people struggle with standardized testing. Richard’s past traditional education experiences and test anxiety didn’t make things easy. He says, “I will be honest and say I didn’t do well initially on the G.E.D. Test. I failed it three times!” he said, shaking his head. “I couldn’t believe it! I had worked so hard. Before I knew it, I felt like I was back in high school. I didn’t think I was smart enough to pass the test. I was struggling and embarrassed. Then I remembered that I wasn’t in high school anymore, and my dreams were just on the other side of that test. I couldn’t let it stop me again.” On the fourth try, Richard passed and received his G.E.D. “I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. My family came and celebrated with me, and I made my mother proud. I made myself proud. I proved that I could do anything if I didn’t give up,” he said. After receiving his G.E.D, Richard started at Park West Barber College in Greensboro, N.C. From there, he became an apprentice barber, but he knew that he had to relocate to grow. “After job corp I moved back to Greensboro, and later moved to Durham, NC. to finish barber school. But after barber college, I wanted to go to an area where I could start fresh and have room to grow. Barbering in Durham and Greensboro was a crowded market. I thought about Jacksonville, Florida, or Georgia but settled on Charlotte, NC.” Richard was an apprentice barber at Bennett’s Barber Shop in Charlotte for four years. “You usually do one year as an apprentice before you can take your master barber’s licensure test, but I did four years because I felt I had so much to learn.” As Richard worked as an apprentice barber, he was free to explore his creativity. Barbering isn’t just about cutting hair. Men trust their barbers and seek their advice about looking and feeling their best. Richard noticed a small selection of beard and skin grooming products for men. The scents were basic and didn’t represent all men, especially black men. Hence Kingzi Men’s Skincare Collection was born. He says, “I didn’t like that most beard balms smelled like the great outdoors,” Richard said with a laugh. “Never have you heard a woman say she loves the smell of citrus on her man. So, I started experimenting with fragrances that I liked and ones that didn’t make my customers smell like car air fresheners.”

“My clients were willing and honest test subjects. I gave away free samples, and they would let me know what worked and what didn’t. Before I knew it, word got out, and it’s gained momentum from there.” Putting what he learned about sales and marketing in Job Corps, Richard is preparing to put the Kingzi Men’s Skincare Collection on the shelves of major shopping centers all over the country. But for now, the skincare line can be purchased locally at Kingzi Barber’s Lounge. This was his reply when asked what the future looked like for Richard. “The future is bright. Brighter than I thought possible at this point in my life. I was stuck for forty years because I didn’t think I was smart enough to pass a high school equivalency test. But when I faced my fears and pushed past them, the world opened up to me. Things are happing so fast I am having trouble keeping up,” Richard said, smiling proudly. “But I guess that’s a good problem to have.” Richard intends to continue growing his business, including lotions, skin conditioning oils for women, and a Kingzi clothing line. He concludes by saying, “If I could say one thing to my younger self, it would be this: Don’t let fear and other people’s opinions of you hold you back. You can achieve anything you set your mind to if you are willing to fail at it first. When you fall, you got know where to go but up!” h

Richard enrolled in YouTube university and learned all he could about creating beard balms and lotions specifically for men. Once he had the know-how, Richard started making small batched in his home and trying them on his clients.

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Michelle

Coleman The Coleman Estate JC

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided byMichelle Coleman This young and vibrant entrepreneur has one thing on her mind: to succeed. She is no stranger to hard work; at a moment’s notice, she is ready to roll up her sleeves and make things happen. Micelle Coleman of Ohio, comes from a large family. Along with her twin sister, she has five other siblings. She describes her mother Theresa Magee, as being strong and wise. Her father, the late Frederick Coleman, was awarded a purple heart for his sacrifice in the U.S. Army. When her father died at a young age, Michelle says her mother, aunt, and uncle worked in unison to ensure that she and her sister never went without. “They were someone we looked up to. They never forgot a birthday or holiday, and they instilled in us the importance of education. I would not be who I am today if it were not for the three of them,” Michelle says. Originally born in Nashville, TN, Michelle attended Forest Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi. There, she ran track, cross-country and created a dance team in high school named the 601 Chicks. “The dance team gave young girls like me a fun space to express ourselves throug dance,” she says. She later graduated high school in 2013, and along with her twin sister, they were the only two children on her mother’s side to receive a high school diploma. Michelle says it was a great day to see her mother so proud. After high school, she attended Hinds Community College and received a trade certificate in business. She would go on to work a couple of side jobs until she received her license in the insurance sales field. Today, she owns The Coleman Estate JC, and Wealth Consulting Group LLC. Both were established between 2019 and 2020. NY/NJ - Sept./Oct. 2022

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The Coleman Estate J.C brand involves real estate investing, wholesaling, Airbnb, and rental properties. Michelle shares she helps her community by buying unwanted properties, rehabbing them, and turning them into beautiful masterpieces. She also enjoys helping families out of foreclosure, problem homes, and relocations. She successfully acquired rental property, turned it around, and later built her dream home within 12 months. Those accomplishments even happened during the Covid 19 pandemic, and now Michelle is teaching others to do the same, no matter what the housing market looks like.

“While in college I started attending real estate (wholesaling) seminars and reading real estate investing books. I attended many seminars throughout the years. Then I finally invested in a mentor who gave me more hands-on training. After doing my first flip and receiving a check for over $10,000 for little to no work, I believe that was the start of my journey.”

Michelle Coleman

Wealth Consulting Group LLC www.startcreditjourneynow.com 614-972-3026

Her other company, Wealth Consulting Group LLC, assists clients with their credit, offering many services such as free consultations, free one-on-one credit coaching with a credit expert, free credit analysis, and much more. “We are changing the lives of our clients, their families, and our community,” she says. Michelle also named one of her businesses after her father’s last name and hopes to build a housing community for veterans one day. How did Michelle get started on her entrepreneurial journey? She says, “I have always had a vision of helping others. I guess that is what sparked an entrepreneurial spirit that initially launched my business interests. While in college I started attending real estate (wholesaling) seminars and reading real estate investing books. I attended many seminars throughout the years. Then I finally invested in a mentor who gave me more hands-on training. After doing my first flip and receiving a check for over $10,000 for little to no work, I believe that was the start of my journey. I purchased my first rental property at the age of 24, built my home at 25, and purchased another property at 26. There is something about owning multiple properties that always gave me such excitement. My second business came about as a response to something that happened to me. I was a victim of identity theft and had to work personally for many years to clear up my credit and regain my identity. I have seen what the damage can do, and after studying and getting my own score above 740, I’ve set out to help others do the same.” Like most business owners, Michelle has faced some challenges along her journey. The first and biggest challenge she shared was finding new clients without being one of those large household names. “I had to work hard every day to bring as much attention to my business as possible. Another challenge was finding help with running my business. That issue was easily resolved after hiring family and close friends, which allowed them to be a part of the journey of helping others,” she says. Moving forward, Michelle says her goal is to acquire five multi-family homes by 2023 and at least three more Airbnb properties by the end of this year. She has already set a goal to help one hundred credit families get the credit score they deserve. “My ultimate plan is to keep changing lives,” she says. Michelle has one son, Jeremiah, who she professes is her rock and greatest motivation. h

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My Best Is Yet To Come By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Denaro Cook

We’ve all heard about the many innocent people who have been victims of inadequate representation. Denaro Cook served eighteen years of a twenty-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. I wish I were about to tell a story about how the truth won out in the end, but that was not the case for Denaro.

Since his release in 2017, Denaro has hit the ground running, fueled by the hopes and dreams he never let go of during his eighteen years of incarceration. Music has always been a large part of Denaro’s life, and his time in prison was no different. “The inspiration didn’t stop just because I was locked up. In fact, it happened more often. I have so many songs and lyrics that I have yet to record it ain’t funny.”

The culture that most African-Americans grow up in says that you don’t turn on your family. Denaro heard this a lot as a kid. “My mother used to say all the time, ‘your family is all you got. You should never turn on your brother.’ So, I didn’t. And it cost me eighteen years.”

Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, Denaro has always loved country music. One of his songs is titled “I Love Country.” But it’s not the sad, jailhouse blues. What Denaro sings is Joyful Country.

At eighteen, four days after his high school prom and two weeks before graduating, Denaro was arrested and charged with a murder he didn’t commit. “The detective told me if I testified, I would have been cleared of all charges. But the person was my brother, and they already had him in custody. They knew he was the guilty party. They just wanted me to make their case for them. Because I refused to say anything, they charged me as well,” he says. Because Denaro wouldn’t testify against his brother, he was punished and spent eighteen years of his life in jail. “I completed 80% of the sentence I was given. If I’d had the financial means available to me at the time, I wouldn’t have served a day,” Denaro explained. Losing your freedom just as your life is about to begin is a hard pill to take. Especially when you and everyone involved, including the detective and prosecutor, know that your only crime was guilt by association. “I had a public defender, but they were no help. So instead of continuing to fight and get my hopes up, I decided to make peace with the hand I was dealt.” Although Denaro gave up the hope that he would be exonerated, he never gave up on hope. “That’s all you have, really. Life without hope is death.” So Denaro refocused his energy toward the future. When you are locked up, you are at the mercy of someone else. They tell you when to eat, sleep, and control every aspect of your life. The one thing they can’t control is your ability to dream,” Denaro shares.

“I could be bitter, but what would that accomplish? The time I spent in prison caused me to see life differently. I had to learn to forgive. Forgive the people who put me there, forgive myself, and forgive God. Once you do that, you can have peace no matter where you are.” Denaro credits his faith in God for seeing him through the rough times. “I learned to trust and believe God would see me through it all. And he did. Since my release, I’ve seen him work things out for me that I couldn’t do for myself. My dreams are becoming a reality,” he said.

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Denaro is a country music recording artist. He has a talk show called Prison Chronicles. He owns a book publishing company, Cook Book Publishing LLC, and he just started a nonprofit organization called Ones WHO (Ones Who Have Overcome). “These were the things I dreamt about, and I’m watching God put people in my path who can make things happen. That’s why you don’t give up on your dreams. Especially when you are in the darkest of places.” Prison Chronicles is a YouTube web show that gives voice to those affected by the penal system. This platform gives voice to former inmates, current inmates, family members of incarcerated people, and the people who put them there. Denaro has hosted correction workers and even judges. “Everyone on both sides has experienced some form of trauma. I believe it’s essential to understand that. The show allows people to speak their truth and dispel the lies and misconceptions people have about life in prison. It’s not what you see on television. These men and women are still human beings and deserve to be treated as such. These stories not only give them a release, but it also helps others who don’t yet dare to speak out. It’s therapeutic in many ways.” The seventeen episodes of Prison Chronicles have been over three thousand times since the first video podcast aired. “We are in the process of revamping, but there will be new episodes coming soon.” As a recording artist and a talk show host, it’s only natural to have a Cook Book Publishing company. “I never thought about becoming a publisher until my brother and his friend started writing books.” Denaro’s brother, who is currently serving time for the same crime Denaro was convicted of, has written several books. “An inmate who started a publishing company while in jail published one of my brother’s books. When I visited him, he asked why I didn’t do it too. At first, I didn’t think I could, but after some research, I realized it was simple. With just a few steps, I had a legitimate book publishing company.” Cook Book Publishing is a licensed publisher with nine books published under their label and four authors.

taking you to the Goodwill to get clothes. Giving you guidance on where to go to get help for different things.” Denaro admits that he has had a few struggles while making a name for himself as a free man. “Everyone has trauma, and I’m no different. It was painful to endure what I did, knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong. While you are away, life begins, and it ends. People you love pass away, but none tells you, thinking they save you heartache. They don’t understand that it’s more painful to find out years later.” During reentry, everyone has a decision to make about the way forward. For Denaro, that meant losing friends and family. “Inside, I had to make a change of mind and change of heart. When I got out, I had to change my environment to maintain that change. I lost friends and family who didn’t understand that I wasn’t the person I was when I went in. As a man, society has taught us not to show weakness. We have to suppress it and suffer through it. To do that, we have to become detached and inaccessible. It makes having successful relationships hard because you don’t know how to open up without being vulnerable. Thankfully God blessed me with a beautiful daughter who has taught me how to love again. Because of her, I feel myself coming alive again.” It’s been five years since his release, and Denaro has never let go of three things. His faith in God, his love for his family, and the belief that it’s never too late to dream. h

The nonprofit is a recent addition but not a new idea for Denaro. “The nonprofit was just approved, but it’s an idea I planned out while in prison. Originally it was supposed to be called MAID by Us, but the name was taken. Ones WHO is a rehab, recovery, reentry, and disability assistance program for ex-inmates trying to restart their lives.” After release, most former inmates have to adjust to the world they are being released into and come to terms with losing the world they left behind. “You must apply for your social security card, driver’s license, and all kinds of documents that make it legal to walk around. You have to figure out how to function in an alien world. When I went in, technology was nowhere near where it was when I came out. I wasn’t familiar with smartphones, tablets, and things like that. For successful reentry, there needs to be technology training. You have to know how to use computers and the internet to fill out a job application.” Along with the need for help with technological advances, Ones WHO will act as a resource for people who need support during reentry. They will help with everything from basic needs such as clothes and personal care items to mental and emotional support. “You learn to cherish the things most people take for granted. Something as simple as someone NY/NJ - Sept./Oct. 2022

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Real Estate, Finance, and Dance....... I Do A Lot By Terry L. Watson - Photos Provided by Kara White

While Phoenix, AZ, is widely known for its often sweltering climate, someone else is blazing their own path in the black business community and helping others succeed along the way. Her name is Kara White. The young and ambitious entrepreneur wears many hats, including that of a real estate agent, financial planner, dance instructor, and director of a nonprofit organization. Kara was born and raised in Chicago, IL. In 2002, she decided to make the cross-country trek to the Desert Valley in search of a new start. That same year, she received her real estate license and followed that by becoming a licensed broker in 2009. She shares how her journey began, an experience wrapped in surprise and purpose. “While on a trip with my mother, I talked with an owner of a real estate agency. They offered me a job and even offered to cover the cost of my real estate license. However, as soon as I received the license, I left the resort gracefully and began building my clientele,” she says. NY/NJ - Sept./Oct. 2022

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Due to the ever-changing real estate market, Kara had to reinvent herself. That’s how one of her products, Kara’s Wealth Consultant, was developed, which spawned another product, Get the Money Friend. In this brand, “F.R.I.E.N.D.” is an acronym for “Financial Consultation, Real Estate, Investments, Planning, Notary Public Services, and Debt Elimination. She also offers credit consultation with services that include Credit Report Review, a Credit Repair DIY Kit Guide, and Income Protection and Budget Review. While she has demonstrated an astute business understanding, Kara’s talents expand beyond the entrepreneurial sector. She is the former Miss Arizona International. Her platform and influence were carried over into her nonprofit organization, Live Love Dance Inc. Its focus is to empower youth and lead them to live healthy, strong, and fulfilled lives via the performing arts. It also provides workshops, empowerment sessions, galas, fundraising, private lessons, and community service events.

Kara shares she has always had a passion for dance. “When I was 11 years old, my first job was as a dance assistant. I quickly rose in rank from an assistant to teaching my own class. I’m disciplined in all seven dance forms, with contemporary dance being my favorite. I favor this style more because it incorporates the basics such as ballet and the freeing movement fundamentals of jazz and modern dance,” she says. Kara’s genuine love to see others succeed is an attribute that comes into play in her personal and professional life. “I am committed to helping others, and my business endeavors must positively impact my community. The different experiences I’ve gained have allowed me to not only help others, but I’ve benefited from those that I serve, pouring back into me,” she says. The life of an entrepreneur can present unique challenges, and Kara has also experienced her share. She says that times can get complicated, but during those moments, she has to search deep within and find a way to stay positive and keep moving. “Despite my challenges, I am committed to living in the moment. I try to live and be present because time is whatever you think it is and whatever you create. I often tell others not to dwell on the past or focus too much on the future because they don’t know what will or might happen. We must live in the moment,” she says.

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“I am committed to helping others, and my business endeavors must positively impact my community.”

On top of being able to help others, Kara also loves that she doesn’t have to conform to anything. Whether it’s her money world or dance world, she’s able to be personable while working at the same time. She also loves being able to work with a team of great people. As life moves forward for Kara, she expects to be involved in more endeavors and hopes to launch an event planning business. She also plans to expand her brand, Kara’s Wealth Consultant, and continue spreading financial advice in her community. Additionally, plans to continue to promote and grow Live Love Dance Incorporated. Their signature gala fundraiser is coming up in October, with proceeds going towards dance scholarships. For anyone looking to follow in Kara’s footsteps, her number one piece of advice is this; no one is going to be better at being you than you. She says, “Don’t try to be me, be better than me, be better at being you than me.” Please visit her website to learn more about Kara White and her great endeavors. h

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Charlie’s Horn

In memory of Pastor Charlie Adams, III By John Johnson

It Seemed That on Every Sunday Morn When Charlie Would Softly Play His Horn, That It Was More Than Just Playing with Love For We Were Hearing from Angels Above. The Drummer Would Start His Soft Roll And Sweet Music Would Fill Every Soul, Then We Would Open Our Mouths and Sing, Giving All Praise to Our Savior and King.

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John Johnson of Greensboro, NC, is retired from the U.S. Army and the U.S.Postal Service. He was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. His father passed away when he was only four years old. His mother passed away 12 years later. Though he only had his mother for 16 years, she made a lasting impression on him. He remembers her singing songs and reciting poetry around the house and believes that is where his love for singing and writing began. John has been married to Vera for 60 years. Their union produced two daughters, Yvonne, who passed away in 2013, and Yulonda. John continues to write and sing and credits God for inspiring every word and melody.

Stay Strong in Your Faith By John Johnson

There is so much going on In the world, today, We are running and worrying, And forgetting to pray. But God has not changed From his original plan When he sent his son, Jesus To save sinful man.

Photos Provided by Still Shots Photography

We can’t be caught up In what we hear, When the truth of God Is always so near. Stay strong in your faith From it never depart. Let the truth, God’s word Live in your heart. NY/NJ - Sept./Oct. 2022

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