Yesterday Prepared Me For What’s Next
A Letter From The Editor
There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!
A Letter from the Editor
It seemed like only yesterday when the first edition of Huami Magazine was published. In November 2007, a vision given to me by God became my reality. I have shared the story of publishing Huami Magazine, first having a conversation with God, then taking the leap and stepping out faithfully in response to God’s call. Still, I often reflect on the first edition and become reminded of how awesome God is.
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?
While I was confident in my ability to fulfill the assignment, I admit I didn’t have all the answers initially. Ten years earlier, in 1997, I researched the magazine publishing industry, specifically in the Triad area of North Carolina. I did this to learn more about what is required to publish a magazine, including how to manage a publishing company, etc. Amongst all of the information obtained, I never inquired about how to support my new media company financially. That would eventually pose a problem for me and Huami Magazine.
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?
Terry L Watson Publisher
Editor In Chief
Dorjae’ McClammey Writer
Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor
Terry L. Watson Writer
Joy Rogers Writer Monica Montgomery Writer
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.
Finances and their availability is vital to the survival of any business. I self-funded operating costs for quite some time, especially in the first few years of existence. However, all of a sudden, things changed. Huami Magazine would enjoy the love and support from unlikely sources, including individuals who never exhibited an interest in the product. Doors would soon open and opportunities flowed. Things were looking up for Mykel Media Company, LLC.
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.
As the face and founder of Huami Magazine, I worked hard to spread brand awareness. During this time, there were other challenges I would face, but having the support of the magazine wasn’t one of them. Sales were so good that everything needed to keep our doors open, we received it. God saw something good about Huami Magazine and He made provisions to ensure
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.
The message that I want to remind the readers of Huami Magazine is simple. When God gives you an assignment, He will also make provisions for you to see it through. All that we have to do is show up for the assignment.Terry L. Watson Editor/Founder
Terry L. Watson
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From the Upstate area of South Carolina, learn how she is serving communities in Africa. Footprints In Africa. Greenville, SC
Learn how she stepped out on faith and built her company. Rock City Staffing Agency. Little Rock, AR
She has a unique eye for style and design. Learn more about her journey in business. Denver, COHuami Magazine Cutest Baby Braxton Moore Unity Ride Inc Tarik Gant Serving Her Community Yohmina Kasey Survivor and Inspiration Sierra Hairston
King’s Lemonade LLCBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by King’s Lemonade LLC
There’s always a good time to drink lemonade; fortunately, a young group of inspiring entrepreneurs in Durham, NC, has made it their business to quench the thirst of lemonade drinkers.
Founded in October 2020, King’s Lemonade LLC is a siblingowned and operated business led by Corey Jr. and Ami. They also share ownership with their older sister, Jada Lyons-O’Kelly. With the support of their mother, Erica, and other family members, the duo has created over 25 delicious flavors of freshly squeezed homemade lemonades. Erica is the formal operator of the business and describes herself as the “Momager” and “Queen”.
So how do they make it happen? Corey is responsible for squeezing lemons, cutting fruit, creating new recipes, assisting with purchasing supplies, loading and unloading supplies, and serving as a cashier at events. Amir is responsible for the same duties as Corey; however, he is also the spokesman.
Initially, the idea of the business came about while Corey and Amir were at home during the Covid 19 pandemic. During this time, everyone was bored and just tired of doing the same routine, day after day. Like most families, the pandemic required most families to resort to a life of isolation. In some cases, the pandemic even added a financial strain on their budgets. Erica’s family experienced both. “The pandemic changed how we moved, so we collectively decided to think of various ways to generate additional income. We came up with various ideas, and finally, the boys decided they wanted to have a lemonade stand. I encouraged them to expand their thoughts, think bigger, and even start an entire lemonade business. With the support of their father, Corey Sr., everyone agreed. Next, we needed to create a name for the business. Everyone threw out various ideas for names but none really stuck. Finally, Corey Jr. blurted out “King’s Lemonade!” I asked him why he chose that name and he said “because I’m a king, momma!” That’s how King’s Lemonade was birthed,” Erica says.
King’s Lemonade currently has over 25 flavors of delicious, freshly squeezed homemade lemonades in various sizes. Some of their most popular ones are Strawberry Lemonade, Pineapple Lemonade, Blue Raspberry Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, Very Berry Lemonade, and their classic Original Lemonade. King’s Lemonade can be purchased online, year round, and they also deliver locally within a twenty-five-mile radius of Chapel Hill, NC, for an additional fee. At various locations, King’s Lemonade can also be found around the Triangle and Triad areas.
Owning a business has been an enjoyable experience for both Erica and her two sons. She shares, “I truly enjoy learning with my children. I didn’t go to school for business. I actually went to school for Criminal Justice. Teaching my kids how to provide for themselves for the future is very important to me. They now have the opportunity to continue to build and grow their business and brand and provide job opportunities for others.”
Amir shares that working with family is easily the greatest challenge he has faced in his young business career. “No one knows how to support you like your family, but no one knows how to push your buttons like family also. Working with my mother and brother has proven to be stressful, and I’d be lying if I say if I haven’t thought about waving the white flag at one time, but after seeing how well-received our products are, I can firmly say that I believe in what I do.”
Erica says she is inspired by her children and the support of her community for their business. Corey Jr. says the positive feedback from the customers also inspires him. Amir says, “While revenue is a great inspiration, an even bigger inspiration is what I can hopefully tell the people that see what I do and are either encouraged in entrepreneurship themselves, or to support small businesses like mine.”
Erica, Amir, and Corey encourage anyone who may follow in their footsteps to be unafraid. Amir’s message is to embrace struggle and loss and, while doing so, continue to swing on. “There are days where our product doesn’t sell as well as we had hoped, and it can get discouraging. Never give up, swing on. Sometimes a closed door can open another window. Another window will open for you soon enough.”
Moving forward, Erica says her plans for both of her children’s businesses are to continue to assist them with making each better. “We would love to see King’s Lemonade in various stores and online,” she says. With persistence and good flavors available, the sky’s the limit for King’s Lemonade.
To learn more about them, please visit their website.
Rock City Staffing Agency, LLCBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Vivian Brittenum
Vivian Brittenum is the owner of Rock City Staffing Agency. Based in Little Rock, AR, her company is a locally owned and operated professional staffing and recruiting agency. Vivian says her team is dedicated to providing their clients with top-notch service, industry-leading solutions, and skilled talent. “At Rock City, we take great pride and purpose in what we do. That’s why we always seek to outperform client expectations. We cover many staffing situations, including temporary, temp-to-perm, contract, and direct hire. We specialize in filling administrative, information technology, customer service, manufacturing, and light warehouse vacancies,” she says.
Vivian is a native of Forrest City, AR, but has called central Arkansas home for the past 28 years. She is a divorced mother of two fantastic children, Miracle, 21, and Praylyn, 19. She acquired her MBA with an emphasis in Information Technology and an MS in Management and Leadership with an emphasis in Project Management from Webster University. She also obtained her BS in Management Information Systems from Park University with a minor in Human Resources.
Some additional certifications she holds include a nationally Certified Public Manager as well as a Certified Arkansas Governmental Manager from UA Little Rock. She is a Certified Woman Entrepreneur from Cornell University, a graduate of Leadership Greater Little Rock, past Chairman of Auditing Committee for Southern Gas Federal Credit Union, past Diversity and Inclusion committee member for the City of Little Rock, Commissioner for the City of Jacksonville, past-chairman of the Board of Adjustment, and past chairman of the Planning Commission and a graduate of the Rock It! Lab Accelerator Program.
“At Rock City, we take great pride and purpose in what we do. That’s why we always seek to outperform client expectations.”
Vivian shares how her faith in God has shaped her life from the very beginning. “I am so grateful to God for choosing me for such a time as this. Life for me began in Forrest City. My parents were teenagers when I was born. My mom, Barbara Paulette, was a senior in high school. My father, Leon Jones, Sr. was attending college in another city. In a sense, my mom and I grew up together. She raised me and my two sisters, Tracy and Tajuan in a strict Pentecostal household. We were in the church from sun-up until sundown at least four days a week. That is where my faith began and where I learned to trust and believe in God. My mom and dad worked hard to provide for my sisters and me. Mom worked for a time in factories making garments and televisions before she decided that was not the life she wanted for herself or her daughters. She decided to further her education and became a CNA, became certified in early childhood education, and worked as a transport driver before settling down in the classroom. That’s where I got my inquisitive mind and my love of learning. My dad operated a well-respected construction business for the past forty years, and my father has been self-employed for 48 years. They both stepped out on faith, took a chance on themselves, worked hard, and are now reaping the benefits of following God’s path. That’s where I got my entrepreneurial spirit from,” she shares.
After getting married and moving to the central Arkansas area, Vivian knew this was where she could flourish. The big city lights, highways, fast cars, and endless opportunities, she says, it was time for her to walk in the calling God has on her life.
Vivian says her job isn’t about just having a source of income or building generational wealth for her family. “I have a God-given passion for helping others, so placing someone in a job offers me a sense of personal fulfillment and professional growth. I am so blessed to wake up every morning with the opportunity and be a blessing to someone else.”
When her youngest graduated high school, she felt God telling me that now was her time. Finally, on September 14, 2021, God said it was time. She stepped out on faith, drove to her job, and resigned in the parking lot. “I knew it was now or never. I came home and reincorporated my business, Rock City Staffing Agency, and I have not looked back,” she explains.
Without any doubt, Vivian is sure she is walking in the plan God has for her because He gave her the idea to open a staffing agency and the name of the business. “I did not know much about the staffing and recruiting world, nor did I have any savings to fund a business. All I had was faith and trust in God,” she shares. A week after opening her business, Vivian was blessed with a $1000 small business grant. Still, she didn’t know where to begin or how to open a staffing and recruiting agency, but she says God provided everything needed to get her company going. “I don’t have a choice but to be successful,” she says.
Now fully operational, Rock City Staffing LLC has positioned itself as a premier staffing agency. Vivian’s advice to others who may follow in her footsteps is to pray, pray, and pray some more. “Keep God at the forefront. Do your research. Find good mentors. Go for it!”
Moving forward, she hopes to continue to follow God’s plan. “Rock City Staffing Agency is just the beginning. There is so much more that’s going to be birthed from this. We are going to use this platform to do the Kingdom’s work,” she shares. To learn more about Vivian Brittenum and Rock City Staffing Agency, please visit their website.
Urban Esthetic Interiors, LLCBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Dymetra Caskill
Dymetra McCaskill of Denver, CO, has a unique eye for detail. Her ability to look at a blank canvas and create works of art has propelled her to being one of America’s top African American interior designers.
Along with being a mother, grandmother, sister, and daughter, Dymetra is the owner and founder of Urban Esthetic Interiors, LLC. As a black designer, you will notice hints of cultural esthetics, vibrant colors, and warm textures. She describes it as a whole vibe!
With her company, Dymetra offers one-on-one, personalized design experiences and collaborates with her clients to create what she describes as a beautiful space.
Dymetra was born and raised in Denver. There she attended school and obtained a Business Management degree. All of her family resides in Denver, including the matriarch of her family, who is now a great-great-grandmother. Dymetra is also a lover of music and says, “If you come to my home, there’s always music playing and candles burning. I’m always tinkering around with something design related,” she says.
Urban Esthetic Interiors, LLC came to life in 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic. “I worked full-time as a flight attendant, and because of the pandemic, I was temporarily furloughed. During that time, I was able to divert all of my attention to interior design, develop a business model, improve my skill set, and work,” Dymetra says.
When asked what she loves about having her own company, she says it’s all about the art of design. “I love beginning with a blank canvas and using my imagination to create a work of art. There are so many moving parts, which can be challenging at times, but that is what drives me. I test the limits with each project, make bold choices, and experiment with new trends.”
While Dymetra says she is inspired by her friends and family’s support and encouragement, she specifically acknowledges her mother for being the most significant source. Dymetra says her mom was the first to let her use a miter saw, which she thought was just a “guy thing” at the time. “I gained confidence, and it allowed me to feel limitless,” she says.
Growing up, Dymetra says her mother would always rearrange furniture and have beautiful plants throughout the house. She shares that everything had its place. Even more, Dymetra’s dad is a pretty good designer in his own right. “Dad designs with class and deliberate pieces. His home shows like a model home, and I always wanted that for my space,” she says.
Additionally, Dymetra says that all things visually beautiful inspire her. “My son, who mimic’s my feature wall ideas, inspires me. My four-month-old grandson, who greets me with bright eyes and the happiest smile, inspires me. My sisters, who consistently root for me, inspire me. My aunt, who always eloquently encourages me, inspires me. My gramma, who covers me in prayer every day, showers me in love, and shows me how a fierce black woman moves and shakes in this world inspires me,” she says.
Things are going great for Dymetra, and she says there isn’t much she would change about how things have happened for her in business. If anything, she says she wishes she would have started sooner but also that she firmly believes that everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. “I’ve encountered some challenges and made plenty of mistakes; however, the beauty lies in knowing they are learning lessons. I’m creating my own formula, which makes me unique, bringing about some uncertainty, but it’s a beautiful mystery. I’m hopeful and excited about what’s to come,” Dymetra says.
Her advice to others who may follow a path similar to hers is not to allow fear to keep you from leaping. “Keep some of your thoughts and plans private, and if you decide to share them, do so with those you know will encourage you. Remember, we’re always students, so we never stop learning. This is a constantly evolving business, so be prepared to operate consistently with your creativity. Whatever your dreams and desires are, release them into the wind. Allow yourself to imagine all the possibilities, keep your intentions pure, and enjoy the ride.”
By the sounds of it, Dymetra has a bright road ahead of her. Futuristically, Dymetra plans to add to her existing brand, which will include designing commercial spaces and offering my products through retail. “If I’m not in your city, I would love for anyone to have access to an Urban Esthetic Interiors experience,” she says. To learn more about her, please contact her directly.
I Consult, I Counsel, I ServeBy Dorjae McClammey Photos Provided by Still Shots Photography
Yohmina Kasey of Greensboro, NC, wears many hats. On the one hand, she is an intelligent social entrepreneur; on the other, she leads a non-profit organization that focuses on improving the lives of young adults.
Born and raised in Penhook, VA, Yohmina received a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Next, she followed that feat by acquiring her Masters of Social Work from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. Not finished, Yohmina decided to plant her roots, transition back to Greensboro, and jump-start her career.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Yohmina started her own practice, Peculiar Counseling and Consulting, nearly 12 years ago. Peculiar Counseling and Consulting is a group of private practice licensed therapists, social workers, and counselors. Together, they assist individuals, couples, and families with life challenges. They have years of experience and training in mental health counseling services.
The name “Peculiar” came from Yohmina wanting her agency to be unique regarding the quality of services provided and how each therapist is genuinely passionate about the therapy they deliver. She says “As the owner, I always wanted to be accessible to every client that walks through our doors no matter how big we get.”
In 2014, Yohmina wanted to expand her practice by providing services that would fill the gaps in clinical services. She answered this yearning with the development of the Selfless Foundation. Its mission is to provide innovative services and solutions to address social issues related to poverty, education, and healthcare. It provides transitional living services and intensive recovery support for young adults.
Intensive recovery support services, also know and the “Selfless Souls” program provides help for single mothers who are recovering from substance use. We help them find employment, housing, childcare and provide lasting support to assist them with maintaining their sobriety,” she shares. “Our goal has always been to decrease child abuse with Selfless Souls because we know that much child abuse and neglect occurs when parents are involved with substance use.”
Another component offered by the Selfless Foundation is Exposed Transitional Living Services. This resource helps young adults between the ages of 16 to 21 transition to adulthood. This includes individuals who’ve faced certain hardships, such as homelessness, and need assistance with learning how to live independently. Yohmina’s team of Social Workers work with these young adults to provide much needed support to prevent homelessness, assist them with becoming employable while exposing them to different opportunities outside their current situation. Selfless Foundation also has ‘Skills on Wheels and the ‘Tutor Bar,’ a mobile tutoring service for lowincome households. Fundraising efforts are underway, and Yohmina plans to launch these new services in 2023.
Like any other business, Peculiar Counseling and Consulting has faced challenges. This includes learning how to manage her company and understanding the protocols that come along with it. Whatever the challenge, Yohmina has been committed to working through them in order to continue to serve. “As a Clinical Social Worker, people do not come to you because life is going great, they come to you because there are serious challenges presenting in their life. You have to really be passionate about this work in order to have longevity in this field. Having good work life balance for myself, helps me provide the best service I can to the people I serve.” she says.
Yohmina says she loves working in a field that keeps her grounded and connected with life and everyday people. “There is never a dull day,” she stated, but her services are needed by someone everyday.
Yohmina’s main inspiration comes from seeing the difference that Social Workers make in people’s lives. “I can not see myself doing anything but Social Work, mainly because there is so much to do. Finding a career you love is nothing to take for granted, and I am glad I found my passion early in life,” she says.
As a Clinical Social Worker, Yohmina finds inspiration in the opportunity to work with individuals from all walks of life. She says, “The broadness of my chosen field leaves much room to impact lives in any direction. Social Workers exist because there is a need in every social institution, we survive because of the various ways that we impact lives. Getting it right and truly making a difference is what keeps me going.”
If you’re looking to follow in Yohmina’s footsteps, her advice is to try everything. “Because the field of Social Work is so broad, it is very important that you try to work wit h a variety of populations in order to find your spot. Finding out what you don’t like in this field is just as important as finding out what you do like, so try everything,” she says.
Moving forward, Yohmina says you can expect Peculiar Counseling and Consulting, as well as Selfless Foundation, to expand across the rural areas of North Carolina. She says the exact needs in Guilford County also exist in surrounding counties, and her team is prepared to serve.
Finally, Yohmina shares a quote upon which she has built her brand and life, which clearly defines her perspective of service. “Doing unto others is part of the solution. Selflessness is the solution to many of the problems in the world we’re facing.”
Please visit their website to learn more about Peculiar Counseling and Consulting and Selfless Foundation.
I can not see myself doing anything but Social Work, mainly because there is so much to do. Finding a career you love is nothing to take for granted, and I am glad I found my passion early in lifeBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Unity Ride LLC
Unity Ride LLC is more than a driving service. Owner and founder Tarik Gant says it’s a hospitality service as well. When one gets into one Unity’s vehicles, they will find snacks such as chips, fruit, popcorn, fruit bars, and cakes, as well as beverages such as juice, tea, water, and more. Unity Ride provides local trips, long-distance trips, one-way trips, round trips, and chauffeuring services by the hour. They also do mobile pick-up and deliveries, including groceries and restaurants.
Tarik graduated from Antioch High School and attended Tennessee State University and American Baptist College. There he studied psychology and theology. Amazingly, Tarik says he realized at age 37 that college wasn’t necessary for him to do what he loved to do. “I realized that I wasn’t going to find the perfect job. I had to create it,” he says.
Tarik describes himself as a family man. Though now separated from his wife, his three children are homeschooled and often ride with him. Their mother works two jobs and he shares, “My children ride with me just about everyday. The only time they do not ride with me is when it’s a rider I’m not familiar with and or there is not enough room for them and my passengers,” he says.
Based in Nashville, TN, Unity Ride LLC was birthed from Tarik’s understanding of the need for more transportation services and as a response to a life-changing situation he endured. “In 2015, my wife miscarried the first child we conceived together. Although we lost the child in the first trimester, we never knew the sex of the child. I never wanted the baby to be forgotten. I felt that the miscarriage challenged us greatly and strengthened our union. I decided to name the baby Unity. That’s how the name Unity Ride came to life. Not only is it a business, but It is in honor of the baby I never got to hold and see in the flesh,” he says.
Four years later, in 2019, Tarik launched Unity Ride LLC. “I learned I am passionate about transporting people safely and providing an entertaining and freespirited atmosphere while driving for Uber part-time. One night while driving for Uber, I thought I could provide the same services. So from that point, the rest is history,” he says.
Unity Ride LLC serves Nashville and the surrounding areas mostly. Tarik says there is no place in the United States his company will not travel to. When asked what he loves most about what he does, he says, “I love the connections that I make. The friendships, bonds, business, and even family through the people I meet. I love it when the service is so good that my riders express love towards my children and me. Whether they express it verbally or through gestures, I’m grateful most for the connections. Next to that, I love traveling to different places,” he says.
While Tarik has enjoyed the successes of business ownership, he has also faced some challenges. He says that shortly after launching, he was hit with the Covid 19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020. “The world shut down right after I quit my full-time job and started Unity Ride LLC. I overcame that challenge by continuing to advertise and meet riders. My consistency and passion helped me to overcame that challenge,” he says.
Another challenge Unity faced was losing money from riders that would ride but would not pay. “I lost a lot of money when I allowed riders to pay me after they received my services. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I overcame it with a strict policy of having the riders pay invoices before they get into the vehicle,” he says.
Tarik obviously loves the things that currenlty happening with Unity Ride. He also says there is nothing he would change about his experience in business thus far. “I know that everything is happening the way it should be. I know i’m on the right path and doing what I came here to do, so I wouldn’t change a thing about the journey,” Tarik shares.
His advice to others who may follow in footsteps is simple. “Stay in the moment, keep the initial vision alive, and remain conscious of how far you’ve come,” he says. In the future, Tarik’s plans for Unity Ride is to add a full fleet of vehicles provided for all drivers. He also plans to have Unity Ride Stations nationwide, and provide job security for drivers. “The possibilities are limitless and I plan to give each one that comes to mind, a chance,” Tarik says.
To learn more about Unity Ride LLC, please visit their website.
Multiple Sclerosis Advocate and Thriver Published New BookBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Sierra Hairston
Sierra Hairston of Greensboro, NC, is a 32-year-old who does many things. In addition to being a multiple sclerosis advocate and thriver, she is an author, writer, content creator, small business owner, dancer, volunteer, and social worker.
In her newly released book, Multiple Sclerosis: A Bitter Battle With An Uninvited Party Guest, Sierra takes readers on her journey of quiet, personal battles leading up to her bitter fight with her body and mind, all in the hope to find herself and her purpose again after illness.
Sierra received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2013. In 2015, she earned her Master of Social Work degree from the Joint Master of Social Work Program between North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Additionally, she has over five years of experience in the social work field, working in various clinical and caseworker roles.
Sierra has a genuine heart for people. She is a proud volunteer who is always looking for ways to give back to the community through service and kindness in person and online. She also spends much time educating people in the multiple sclerosis community on her wellness journey. While she may have MS, the disease doesn’t stop her from enjoying an eventful lifestyle. She remains passionate about dancing and working out, taking photos of nature, and spending time with her family, friends, and dogs.
Sierra’s journey of educating others about MS began after being diagnosed with Relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) in April 2016. She shares, “My health rapidly declined. I lost my ability to walk, eat, and complete daily tasks. I felt afraid and alone. My health improved over time through the support of my neurologist, healthcare team, physical therapy, prayers, my mother, family, and friends. My mother encouraged me to journal to start my healing process. By doing so, I discovered my gift for writing inspirational messages through journaling. My love for writing helped me be transparent and process my thoughts and feelings. This happened while trying to find me and my purpose again after illness. Journaling was therapeutic. It healed my grieving heart and propelled me to write a book to share my MS story.” More than anything, Sierra says she hopes to be a light for people facing life challenges.
When asked what she loves most about what she does, she says it’s the opportunity to advocate for people living with chronic illnesses and the families and individuals affected by the challenges it brings. “I love volunteering in the community. I love connecting with people, organizations, and community partners to promote public health and raise funds for education, research, services, and programs locally and nationally,” she says. She also loves sharing her health journey on her YouTube Channel, Sierra C. Hairston.
Sierra says her mother has impacted her life more than anything else. After her MS diagnosis, her mother took on a dual role as her primary caregiver. Sierra says, “My mother invested her love, time, and resources in helping me fulfill my passion and purpose. My mother always advocated for me and instilled in me that she was my resource, but God was my source and told me the importance of depending on and trusting in God. She took her role as a caregiver seriously and never wavered in her faith, knowing that God still had a plan and purpose for my life. My mother’s support inspired me to use my social work knowledge, transferable skills, and God-given talents and abilities to inspire, encourage, enlighten, enhance, enrich, and empower people.”
Sierra has received recognition from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and several other organizations in her community. Ultimately, she shares her goal is to help people feel empowered, encouraged, and motivated to face challenges, walk through pain, and emerge more resilient. Please visit her website to learn more about Sierra Hairston and even purchase a copy of her book. www.timelyfountain.com h
Footprints In AfricaBy Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Tammy Moore
Footprints in Africa, a subsidiary of Chayil Enterprises LLC., is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to aiding the people of Africa, in poverty-stricken communities, with the skills and opportunities that will support economic stability for individuals and their families. The founder and visionary Tammy Darmell Moore says, “Footprints in Africa is not here to give aid but to assist. We don’t want just to put a bandage on the problem. We are here to provide sustainable ways for the people we encounter to care for themselves and the people of their communities.”
Ms. Moore, a single mother of grown children, decided that once her youngest was out of college, she would see the world. “I love to travel. Other people like to shop or go the shows and dine out. I’m not knocking anyone for what they like to do, but for me, I love to travel.” Moore, a selfproclaimed military brat, was now free to move about the country and the world.
“My friends often asked me when I was going to Africa. I had decided to wait until the year of return because I wanted my trip to Africa to be more than memorable. I wanted it to be momentous.”
The Year of Return, Ghana 2019’, a yearlong program of activities marking the 400th anniversary of the first recorded enslaved Africans to the US. While everyone was flooding Ghana, Tammy went to Ethiopia. “I planned to tour the continent, but I wanted to visit Ethiopia first. It was Africa before colonization.”
Moore’s connection with the country and the continent was instant and almost symbiotic. “I immediately fell in love with the people, the food, and the culture. I was in awe of how beautiful the people were.”
The organization’s name, Footprints in Africa, has a three-fold meaning, but it all started because of a little girl and a pair of sneakers. “While I was out in the bush, I met a little girl who asked me for my shoes. I was wearing some black and white Nike Air Max, and she liked them. She was wearing
shoes, but they were in horrible condition. They were so worn that one foot was protruding out of the shoe. I felt bad. I wanted to take my shoes off right there, but I was about five miles from the tour bus, and the terrain was rough, and let’s just be honest, I wasn’t ready to walk barefoot in the Ethiopian bush,” Tammy says, laughing. “But… I decided that I would find that little girl and give her my shoes when I came back.”
Tammy’s visit to Ethiopia was in the fall of 2019, and she had plans to return in February 2020. Unfortunately, rumors of an unknown virus were spreading across the globe, and the FAA was canceling and restricting flights. “When I was notified that we weren’t allowed to fly, no one would tell me why. Our trip kept getting delayed until finally, on March 18th, the city of Greenville, North Carolina, was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Like most citizens during the lockdown, Tammy found herself with nothing but time. “I’m not one to sit around and twiddle my thumbs, so I decided to clean out my closets. As I was clearing things out, I had a thought. Why take one pair of shoes to Ethiopia when I can take back multiple pairs? So, I contacted family members and friends via text and phone calls. I figured they were doing the same thing I was. I told them if they had shoes in good condition to send them to me.”
Within two weeks, Tammy had collected over one hundred pairs of shoes. “This wasn’t a social media drive or anything like that. These donations came from my immediate circle of friends and family. I was blown away. All I had to do was ask, and this was the reaction I got from my close circle of friends. I asked myself, how much more could we do?”
Tammy and her supporters are finding new answers to that question daily. In addition to their Soles for Africa initiative, there are several other projects the group is using to help people in poverty-stricken areas of Africa to live healthier and financially independent lives.
“We have our Life Gardens project that is currently in Kenya but will be starting in Ethiopia soon. Life Gardens is a partnership between Footprints in Africa and Thrive for Good to twelve Kenyan schools. These gardens are a source of food and good nutrition; they lower the cost of school fees, feed students and teachers, and generate revenue, allowing the schools to purchase supplies for the students,” Tammy explains with pride.
“Then there is the Legacy Scholarship in The Gambia, where we are helping with tuition for students seeking higher education so they can give back to their communities. When I learned that one semester in university was about the same as my Luis Vuitton handbag, I decided immediately that I could help. There is no application process at this time. We choose the recipients based on where we find the most need. Students are carefully researched to ensure they are enrolled and have the academic prowess to complete their degree program,” Tammy assures.
The most crucial thing Tammy wants to convey is that Footprints in Africa is about helping Africans receive a fair wage for their trade. Africans are culturally rich and creative but often aren’t given proper credit or compensation for their artistry and craftsmanship. With the Alkebulan, Footprints in Africa’s Cultural Emporium, people can purchase directly from the artist or vendor in Africa. We have products from all fifty-four countries in Africa,” Tammy explains with excitement.
“We have our own tea line called Justea. Most of the world’s tea comes from Africa, but it’s shipped and repackaged, and the true farmers get pennies on the dollar. Justea comes directly from the tea farmer to you. What we have done is partnered with a company in Canada that works with tea farmers. These farmers employ over three hundred workers, most of whom are women, and pay them a fair wage to work the land. When you purchase tea from us, you will get information on the farmer and the farm in Africa your tea came from.”
In the two years since the foundation was started, Footprints in Africa has made it its mission to empower people in the poverty-stricken areas of Africa with as much support as possible. They have been successful, but like all great initiatives, it takes money.
“The one obstacle we have had to contend with is donations. Because we are still dealing with the fallout from the pandemic, people are timid about giving. It’s understandable because nobody wants to be caught off guard by all of the new threats. We have been blessed to have a core group of supporters we call our FIA (fiya) tribe. They are champions for our cause. We would be nowhere without their constant support.”
With the momentum Footprints in Africa is gaining, the future looks bright. “We hope to add more recipients for the Legacy Scholarship and extend it to students who want to attend trade school. We understand that university isn’t for everyone,” Tammy acknowledges. “And to help fund our projects, we are launching our Legacy Society. This is a way for supporters who believe in what we are doing to continue to give posthumously. They could name us as a charity in their estate.”
As stated before, the name Footprints in Africa has a three-fold meaning. “This all started because the little girl asked from my shoes. But it has grown into so much more. While I was in the bush, I saw more footprints than I saw shoe prints. This meant there were more people without than with. The other aspect comes from my desire to leave something behind. I desire to leave my mark, my footprint in the continent’s soil that has made an indelible mark on me.” h