My Dreams Are Windows To My FreedomThere Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!
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
Terry L. Watson 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.
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.
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? 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.
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.
Acknowledging and accepting where and how my life began instills a sense of reality into my heart. Dreaming of places where I wish I could be also encourages me to keep striving for that which is greater.
My message is simple. Life is but a whisper, and I refuse to get lost in the chaos and confusion. There is way too much for me to do, and if I never achieve all that I dream of, I will remain enthusiastic about what tomorrow promises. Tomorrow, if it comes, is provided by God. And when God blesses me with another day to live, He also blesses me with another day to dream and get to work.
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.
Terry L. Watson
Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor
Monica Montgomery Writer
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Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove
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He is doing his part to educate and prepare young men in his community for the future. Learn more about his journey. Charlotte, NC
The love and gift he has for music was realized a long time ago. Learn more about how he built the GhosTown Music Group. New York, NY
Modeling is her first order of business. However, she has found a way to use her gift to help others succeed. Huntsville, ALDevilish Delights Desserts & Catering
Devilish Delights Desserts and GrillBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by In-Depth Productions
After acquiring the title of Pastry Chef as a student of Stratford University, Tara Randolph says she knew exactly what she wanted to do next; run her own bakery. That was in 2013, and on an urge, Tara left college and began working on her confections. She began by setting up shop at a local farmers market and later transitioned to a food truck. Today, her operation has grown to a full restaurant.
Tara is a mother of four and wife of thirteen years. She describes herself as a talented entrepreneur, a skill she realized in her early adolescence. “I can go back to a time in the 90s as a little girl growing up in Morristown, NJ, and that is when I came up with the idea to start a business with my cousins. We would sit in my living room with a pen and pad and jot down things we could do to make money. From a nail and hair salon and even babysitting. Once we had our plan together, we would go around our neighborhood with our clipboard knocking on doors and taking orders,” Tara shares. Being from a small town, most of Tara’s neighbors knew her parents and grandparents, so she believes they humored them with a smile and set appointments that were never fulfilled. Those experiences were fun and prompted her cousin and her to move on to their next adventure. Now, 30 years later, Tara has established herself as a sound businesswoman and living her dream of entrepreneurship.
She is the owner of Devilish Delights Desserts and Grill, based in Blackstone, VA. Her company’s slogan is “where the devil is in the details”. Her company is family owned and run by Tara, her husband, David, a self-taught grill master, and her dad Todd, who is an expert chef that specializes in the restaurant’s unique dishes and more.
For the most part, Devilish Delights Desserts and Grill specialize in Pit Smoked BBQ, scratch-made desserts, and catering. “All of our meats come off the smoker, including pulled pork, ribs, brisket, and chicken. Our side dishes are also scratch-made and consist of Mac and Cheese, Fried Cabbage, Baked Beans, and Sweet Cornbread, just to name a few,” Tara says. “We choose the finest ingredients for our desserts to give the highest quality of flavors and richness, from pound cakes to jumbo cookies and bread pudding. We also offer very delicious peaches and cream bread pudding.”
Tara and her family opened the doors of their business on July 7, 2021. They had just moved to Blackstone from Richmond, VA, and noticed there weren’t any bbq restaurants in town, specifically not many black-owned brick-and-mortar places. “At first, we were looking into reestablishing the operation of our food truck which had been shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, I saw this cute little building and thought our restaurant would look perfect there. My husband thought I was nuts, but he went along with it,” she says. The rest of their story is history.
While running a restaurant can be challenging, Tara shares it can be gratifying also. Some of the challenges they’ve faced are Covid and staffing. She says that Covid forced them to rely on take-out orders, but eventually, their clients wanted to come inside and eat. Another challenge has been staffing and finding the suitable candidates who are willing to grow with us.
Regardless of any challenge or trial they have faced, Tara appreciates the opportunity placed upon her family with their business. “I love serving our community. I love that my little town has welcomed our family and our food with open arms. We do not refer to our customers as numbers but as friends. We talk with them, and they constantly tell us how they appreciate us being here. It’s more than I could have ever dreamed it would be,” she says.
Tara finds inspiration in her kids to keep moving and grinding. Her children have always supported her ever since they were working at the farmer’s market and making cupcakes out of their home. Most importantly, her kids have been patient throughout building their company. “They are super proud of both my husband and me. They’ve seen where we started and where we have grown to, and understand that if their parents can do what they want, they can also.
The future looks and smells delicious for Devilish Delights Desserts and Grill. Tara shares that her family’s business plans to eventually expand to a sit-down restaurant and get their homemade bbq and wing sauces in the marketplaces. Currently, they only offer take-out service but can provide catering for any event of any size.
If you are in Blackstone, VA, stop by and enjoy some delicious food at Devilish Delights Desserts and Grill. You may also visit their website for more information.
Timothy Fowler Boys to Men FoundationBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Todd Youngblood
Timothy Fowler of Charlotte, NC, is the founder of Boys To Men Foundation. His organization provides thousands of boys, ages (9-17) who are referred through partnerships with local school districts and juvenile court systems) with positive alternatives and a robust support network. The mentoring program presents opportunities for enrichment, exposure, support, and guidance through group mentoring sessions led by trained volunteers and mentors. They also connect young men with consistent, positive male role models who foster effective relationships, community involvement, interactive teaching, and open communication in a loving and nurturing environment.
Timothy was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He grew up in a household with seven kids and says his father took care of them and ensured they always had a roof over their heads. Today, Timothy is a father of a teenage son, and he has a daughter who attends Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. Timothy graduated from Medgar Evers College with a BA in Elementary Education in 1995. He has worked as a Pre-K teacher for nearly 30 years. His first teaching position happened at P.S.190 in Brooklyn, and upon moving to Charlotte in 2005, Timothy worked as a Pre-K teacher at Morehead Stem Academy. Currently, he works as a Pre-K teacher at Highland Renaissance Academy.
Upon graduating from Medgar Evers College, Timothy began a career in education and has served as a role model for young people ever since. In 2008, he founded the Boys to Men Foundation. BTM’s workforce development benefits two groups: It builds character for mentees as they acquire knowledge, skills, and aptitude for gainful employment. It also benefits employers who participate in the apprenticeship program by providing an effective means of communication with a familiar candidate pool, helping to meet their demand for stellar employees.
Timothy’s desire to serve started a long time ago. He shares, “Back in my hometown of Brooklyn, I first noticed the nonexistent presence of positive male role models in underprivileged communities. Out of this need, I started my quest to counsel young teens through programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. I was a Big Brother for over five years and worked at the YMCA, and I continue to be active today. As a young male, I would always strive to bring people of all walks of life together. While attending Medgar Evers, I started a program called the Black and Latino Male Initiative. The initiative’s goal was to bring males together to discuss common issues affecting society at that time. When I moved to Charlotte, I continued that initiative by starting the Boys to Men Foundation.”
Timothy understands that he must care about others who need help outside his immediate family. “It’s a selfless act to fight for someone who is virtually a stranger until that relationship unravels. Ninety percent of our boys come from single-parent households. For these young men to have someone they can trust enough and be vulnerable with to reach out when they need help is invaluable,” he says.
Timothy says his life was greatly impacted by his grandmother, who lived in Wilmington, NC. As a young boy, he would travel there every summer to visit her. He witnessed her give back to her community and how she poured into anyone, regardless if they were members of her family. This explains why he loves giving people new experiences and watching them grow. “Every day is different. I always tell my mentees they help me grow just as much as we help them,” he shares.
For BTM, Timothy says operational funding is always tough. “There are a lot of non-profits that all need funding, so it’s a competitive environment. Fortunately, we have cultivated some great relationships with local businesses. Finding good people to help me carry out this organization’s vision and mission has also been a challenge. Yet, we are moving ahead and always looking for good people to help us,” he says.
Timothy says BTM’s goal for the upcoming year is to form more partnerships with local businesses and corporations to aid in their effort to empower young men. h
Patrice J. BridalBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Patrice J. Bridal
If the bride isn’t happy, well, more than likely, the wedding may not go as planned. That is why it’s vitally important to utilize the services of skilled professionals for the big day. This is an area where Patrice J. Bridal excels and is always ready to serve.
Have a custom dress in mind? Patrice J. Bridal can custom-make your ideal gown or create a replica. Owned and operated by Patrice Johnson, Patrice J. Bridal based in St. Louis, MO, offers bridal gowns from top brands, in-house alterations, and custom dressmaking for brides, the bridal party, proms, and various special occasions. Patrice officially launched her company in January 2020 as the first black-owned bridal retailer in the midwestern metropolis, however, Patrice has been sewing for more than two decades.
Patrice is a native of New Orleans, LA, and has lived in St. Louis for a great portion of her life. She has been married for 22 years and is the mother of two boys, ages seven and eleven. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Masters degree in Accounting, and one in Non-Profit Administration. Respectfully, she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
When asked what she loves most about what she does, Patrice says it is the opportunity to work with people and dress them for some of the most significant moments of their lives. “I love celebrating and being with people in their happy moments,” she says. Patrice admits without hesitation that she wouldn’t be able to do what she does without the assistance and support of her husband, Ian, who she says has been her biggest supporter. “He has been one of the most prominent voices pushing me into my gifts when doubt crept in.”
While the Covid 19 pandemic was ravishing the world in 2020, Patrice J. Bridal was in its infancy stages. Patrice had just opened the doors of her company and was soon faced with the unknown. Covid eventually caused her to close her doors for three months, but fortunately, she was able to improvise. She provided facemasks and when the restrictions eased, she was one of the few bridal shops open as brides planned microweddings. Patrice J. Bridal would survive.
Now operating as a proven business that is capable of weathering the unknown, Patrice J. Bridal offers advice to others who may follow a similar journey such as the one she has. She says, “Be mindful of the entire journey and celebrate all the small wins as you work towards your big goal. Don’t be afraid of competition, realizing that no one can do you like you can. There is abundant room for you as long as you remain true to your gift and purpose.”
Patrice says there isn’t anything she would change about her journey in business. Everything hasn’t been perfect, but Patrice says she appreciates the things that have come, both good and bad. “I wouldn’t change anything. My experiences have been invaluable. There is no way I could produce the quality of work I do without such experiences as sewing pockets backward or making dresses that didn’t fit.”
Moving forward, you can expect Patrice J. Bridal to continue to offer its signature brand of customer service and quality products. Additionally, Patrice is working on her own collection of bridal and bridesmaid gowns that will be available in January 2024.
To learn more about Patrice J. Bridal, please visit their website. www.patricejbridal.com
Tasha Teaches SpanishBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Rolando Ochoa of Integro Photography
For Arkansas native LaTasha Moore, those words are a foundation on which she stands. She is a wife, mother, striving entrepreneur, and countrywoman at heart, hailing from the small southwestern town of Falcon.
LaTasha is a woman full of wisdom and credits being born to elderly parents giving her the advantage of seeing life differently at an early age. She believes that titles and accolades don’t mean anything if one’s character is not exemplary. She is also someone who has accomplished a great deal in life. Some things include closing in obtaining her Master of Arts in Spanish degree from the University of Central Arkansas. That feat complements her Masters in Public Health she acquired from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Arkansas State University. LaTasha has also lived and worked in Spain as an assistant English teacher through the North American Language and Culture Assistant program.
Currently, LaTasha is the face and founder of Tasha Teaches Spanish. Her company’s focus is to unite communities through language. “We know that learning the Spanish language shouldn’t be limited to school and college classrooms. People need Spanish education in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons, and we exist to meet that need,” she says.
LaTasha shares her company began on a God-fixed plan. “In 2018, I had just been laid off after only one year of teaching Spanish at an area charter school. Pregnant with my first child, I needed a source of income even though my thenpartner (now husband) had offered to handle the bulk of the finances. One day I received the divine thought to make a post on my personal Facebook page stating that I would teach and tutor Spanish lessons. By the end of the day, my post had over 100 likes and 40 shares. This made me realize there was a market and a need for my talents.”
Four years later, LaTasha’s business is running better than ever. She’s contracted six teachers, obtained an office space, and carries out various services and programs to serve her students and community. Some of her achievements since opening the doors of LaTasha Teaches Spanish are being the Winner of the 2020 BIG Pitch competition, Winner of the 2020 Entrepreneurs Unlimited pitch competition, Winner of the 2020 Little Rock Regional Emerging Minority Business of the Year Award, 2022 Little Rock Regional Minority Business of the Year finalist, and acceptance into the 3rd Cohort of the WEM Hub program sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. She is also the 2022 recipient of the Small Business Growth Fund grant.
“We know that learning the Spanish language shouldn’t be limited to school and college classrooms. People need Spanish education in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons, and we exist to meet that need.”
Besides helping others become the best version of themselves, LaTasha loves her life’s calling. “I thoroughly enjoy helping people remove self-imposed barriers and fears when learning Spanish. I enjoy helping them realize that they don’t have to be worried about perfection when beginning their language-learning journey. I encourage my students to be serious about learning, study often, and be committed to reaching a high level of fluency. I am happy when they can connect with Spanish speakers in their communities, churches, at local festivals, etc.,” she says.
LaTasha says s he is inspired by the possibility of a more lingually diverse state. “The Pew Research Center puts Arkansas in the bottom five states for Spanish education. My brand, Tasha Teaches Spanish, exists to change that,” she shares. “When we think of new programs and services to offer, we keep in mind that we want to contribute to improving the Spanish language learning all over the state, not only in our area. This year we will begin to host our annual Spanish camp in different regions, and our long-term goal is to bring a Spanish language immersion school to Arkansas.”
Like many entrepreneurs, there was a time in business when LaTasha only made money through it. She shares that she did not work another job and had to rely on others for her financial wellbeing. “Humans are shaky. They are committed today and gone tomorrow. The high and low seasons of business often resulted in me being in financial binds,” she says. That was challenging for her, but she persevered.
While the journey has been unique and even challenging at times, LaTasha says there aren’t many things she would change about the way things have happened. “I would change our initial hiring practices and staff training. I was the only teacher from 2018-2020, and in 2021 we began contracting teachers to work for us. However, my hiring process was not thorough, and we ended up acquiring a few teachers that were not good fits for the role. Additionally, I failed to see the importance of frequent staff training throughout the year, and I wish I had started that sooner as well,” she says.
The future is looking bright and promising for Tasha Teaches Spanish. This year, there are plans to expand their Spanish summer camp to different regions in Arkansas. They also host community events such as trivia and movie nights, and in December 2023, they will carry out a Spanish Christmas children’s choir. Their long-term goal is to open a Spanish immersion school.
Please visit their website to learn more about Tasha Teaches Spanish.
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.
Model Too ModelBy Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Is’Londa
The best way to describe Is’Londa Eman is someone full of love and compassion for others. She has always been active in her community. She has played basketball, she’s danced and even modeled.
The Huntsville, AL, resident was born in Mobile, AL, to Stephanie Rodgers and James Knighten. She is a honors midyear graduate of C.F.Vigor High School. Later, she enrolled in the Job Corps in Atlanta, GA, and TCU. There she took up health occupation and received both her CNA and Phlebotomy license and credentials in local transportation.
Today, she is the face and owner of Model Too Model modeling agency. Her company was launched in 2017 under the name Genisis. “It began by supporting local models with model bags that shadow different spectrums and paths of life. I relaunched my business in 2022 and named it Model Too Model,” she says.
Model Too Model is a very diverse business Is’Londa shares. Their goal is to provide each customer with a personalized designer product bag. “We call them “Model Bags”. They contain all the items our clients may need throughout the day based on their career, hobby, or event.”
Is’Londa’s journey of becoming a model began at an early age. One night, at the age of 17, she was scouted by a prestigious director after an annual ballet recital. She was cast to help promote and perform in one of the first tour shows in Mobile with Tan Stephens and Ncheechi Productions. She quickly grew a passion for the runway and for serving others.
As life continued, Is’Londa found her way to Huntsville, AL, and connected with KBoss Models. She was cast for a national pageant, Miss Fashion Global, the first for her.
“My height was a huge problem that affected me for many years, yet I found ways to pull out my torso for longer grace and length and learned how to walk in heels of every inch to increase my chances of being cast.”
Is’Londa enjoys volunteering all over the community of Huntsville, and helps out with Habitats for Humanity, and a summer lunch program with the public school system. She also has been a lead teacher of a local preschool and daycare for over four years.
Between serving and meeting new faces, Is’Londa became very observant of the lifestyles of everyone around her. One thing became obvious; she was depended upon to bring big bags of materials and supplies to share. This level of preparedness spilled over into her modeling career as Is’Londa found herself sharing supplies out of her model bag with other models for shows and shoots. These items included first aid supplies, a pair of heels, tape, and more. Those experiences sparked an idea in her mind. Is’Londa partnered with sponsors on very different career paths and other local and distant models with a similar passion. After only six months, Model Too Model was born.
While she has enjoyed a short professional modeling career, she has faced some challenges and hardships. The major disadvantages for Is’Londa have been her height, hair, and skin complexion. “I am dark skinned with full, thick hair, and I stand at about 5’5” tall, she says. She has witnessed discrimination from different agencies because of her skin tone. She was even told she wasn’t bright enough to sell a product and was denied casting opportunities. “Early in my career, a lot of hairdressers had no idea how to manage full-course hair,” she says. Her height was also a challenge as most runway models are of the average height of 5’7” tall. “My height was a huge problem that affected me for many years, yet I found ways to pull out my torso for longer grace and length and learned how to walk in heels of every inch to increase my chances of being cast. I’ve also taken many workshops to enhance poses, smiling, smizing, and elongated dressing.”
The year 2022 was a very progressive year for Is’Londa and her company. In November, she was cast once again to represent the city of Huntsville in the Miss Fashion Global Pageant. This time, it was for the new Petite category. The event was a huge success for her. Not only was she crowned, she was also honored with an Alumni award from CEO, Terrance Howard. She has also been nominated for the 2023 Miss Humanitarian Award. Moving forward, she plans to expand Model Too Model. She also plans to continue modeling, promoting and volunteering.
In closing, Is’Londa offers a few words to those whose journey may feel and look similar to the one she has traveled. “Always remain true to yourself and your craft, and always stay prepared and do your research. Also, keep an updated portfolio while maintaining the works of modeling and not just the photogenic side because being a model is more than the photos. It involves good character, preparation, and execution,” she says.
To learn more about IsLonda and Model Too Model, please contact her directly or visit her website.
Girl Talk IncorporatedBy Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Sonya
Sonya Cooke is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She is also the founder of a non-profit called Girl Talk Incorporated. Girl Talk is a lifeline for young girls in the Indianapolis area, ages ten to eighteen.
“Girl Talk Incorporated is a non-profit organization created to empower and motivate girls to be their best. We provide education and empowerment to young girls in ways that foster independence, build self-esteem, and give them the necessary tools to make good decisions,” Sonya explains.
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Sonya’s inspiration for starting this organization is taken directly from her own life.
“I was a good kid. I was very athletic in school. I was on the track team, volleyball team, and cheerleading squad. I made decent grades and stayed out of trouble,” Sonya explains. “My story is that I didn’t have anyone to help answer the difficult life questions. I had to figure a lot of things out on my own. As a result, I made a lot of bad decisions.”
Sonya was the only daughter of eight children (her mother had two boys, her father had five boys), and her mother was emotionally unavailable. “My mother suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her first husband, and I believe that it made her disconnect. So me not receiving the affirmations needed to build me up left me exposed,” Sonya shares. “My upbringing was very religious, and although there are a lot of women in my family, none of them stepped in to give me the guidance I needed to navigate the firestorm of emotions and confusion that comes with being a teenager. They didn’t talk about periods, sex, or anything about your body.”
At age sixteen, Sonya gave birth to her first child. Her second child was born when she was seventeen—her third at eighteen and her fourth at twenty-one. “My first daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age two, and my second child, Justin, only lived twelve hours after birth,” Sonya shares. “And still no one snatched me up and said, ‘Let us get her some counseling or support.’ No one stepped in and said, ‘This is not okay. You are better than this! Let me help you get on the right path.’”
Sonya dropped out of high school in her junior year because her daughter needed full-time care. “I may have been a teenager, but I was still a mother. Since I was so young and my daughter needed extensive care and supervision, everyone told me to put her in a home. I said no. I was her mother and didn’t want her to be mistreated. She couldn’t speak for herself. As her mother, I was her voice and advocate.” It’s this passion that propels Girl Talk Incorporated. The organization doesn’t just give the girls a non-judgmental ear; it helps to provide them with a voice.
“My story is that I didn’t have anyone to help answer the difficult life questions. I had to figure a lot of things out on my own. As a result, I made a lot of bad decisions.”
Sonya was twenty-two when her oldest daughter, Amanda, passed away. She was six. Again, Sonya wasn’t given the support needed to process the loss or the position found within. When she was twenty-six, Sonya was a single parent of two, struggling to make ends meet. With no high school diploma or GED, jobs that paid enough to care for her family were hard to come by.
“I didn’t have a role model per se, but I had started to envision the life I wanted. I saw myself as independent and well-put together. I wanted to show my children what was possible for them,” Sonya explains. Sonya saw herself as more than her current situation, but she didn’t know how to get past where she was. Then a door opened.
“A woman I knew from church told me the doctor’s office she worked for needed an admin. She asked me if I wanted a job. I was twenty-eight when I started. I worked that job a total of four years.”
In the twenty-two years Sonya worked in the healthcare field, she earned her GED and her undergraduate degree in business marketing. She has been licensed as a life coach and has a certification in human services.
“I just needed an opportunity. I needed someone willing to take a chance on me. That’s all any of us need, really,” Sonya explained. “Girl Talk Incorporated was birthed out of my wanting to provide for young ladies what was not provided for me. I don’t want them fumbling and stumbling through life, making mistake after mistake, because nobody was willing to have those uncomfortable conversations. As women and mothers, we have to guard our girls. The best way to do that is to inform them.” The preparation of young girls who are coming of age is something Sonya is very passionate about.
It was time to activate her passion, but Sonya needed to do a little research. “Having an organization like Girl Talk was something I always wanted to do. In 2015, I finally found myself in a position to do it,” Sonya explained. “I have nieces who were around that age of curiosity. So I sat down with them and some of their friends to have some simple conversations. We talked about school, boys, sex, and relationships. After that, I felt my idea aligned with our community’s needs.” With the support of her husband and armed with the data from her (family) focus group. Sonya launched Girl Talk Incorporated in April 2015. In July 2022, Sonya retired from her career in healthcare and began working with Girl Talk Inc. fulltime.
Girl Talk is focused on those tough but necessary conversations that inform, educate, and prepare young girls to be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy.
According to their website, “Girl Talk Inc. focuses on areas such as Health & Wellness, Confidence Building, Coping Skills, College Preparedness, and Sex Education…With these tools available to young girls, our goal is to equip them with life skills that will enable them to make good decisions and achieve their personal and professional goals.”
Now that you know Sonya’s why let’s talk about the how. Girl Talk Inc. has wellorganized mentoring programs that educate and support students ages ten to eighteen.
“The Girl Talk Inc. mentoring program is an 8-week program designed to meet the growing needs of our female youth. Through a staff of volunteers and advisors, we will hold weekly meetings to address various topics and offer strategies and tools to assist the girls in dealing with day-to-day issues. At the end of the program, the girls will participate in a graduation ceremony to celebrate their achievements with parents, caregivers, family, and friends,” Sonya explained.
As a non-profit, Girl Talk Inc. relies heavily upon the gifts of its donors. “My husband is a huge financial supporter of Girl Talk Inc. I am so grateful to him and the other sponsors for their continued support of this vision. The great news is that we have received our first grant in 2022. Funding for our programs is essential to our effectiveness in the community.” In 2021, Girl Talk Inc. was honored with the Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good in the community local television station WRTV Indianapolis.
As the organization grows, the impact of Sonya’s vision for empowering the young women of her community is being felt and acknowledged as an asset. But she’s not finished yet.
On November 19th, 2022, Girl Talk Inc. hosted Conversations for our Daughters: A Mother’s Love Unveiled.” This event was designed to empower mothers to be the light and guide in their children’s lives—especially their daughters.
“A Mothers Love Unveiled is a conversation that mothers and daughters will have regarding the experiences, traumas and triumphs that mothers have had that affect their daughter’s development, both good and bad. When we share the most intimate, private parts of our lives with our daughters, we give them a glimpse of who we really are. Being transparent about our experiences, our highs, and our lows open the door for our daughters to become more self-aware of who they are,” Sonya explains.
Sonya admits she is guilty of raising her children based on her traumas. “I knew what I had experienced, and I promised I would never allow my children to go through that,” she explained. “I had a baring stepfather, so I clashed at first when I married my husband. I had to learn that not all men were like my stepfather.”
Sonya says the future of Girl Talk Inc. is all about giving her students a holistic experience. They work with counselors and social services to get the girls what they need. Most importantly, she realizes that the girls need to be wellequipped, healed, and emotionally sound mothers ready to guide the next generation of women into their future.
“Our focus will always be to empower girls, but we understand that if we help the child then send them back to a toxic environment, it’s like putting water in a bucket with a hole in the bottom. We will have to keep starting over to combat the negative influences that can sometimes be found in the home,” Sonya said. “But by supporting the moms and encouraging them to seek help, find healthy relationships, and build supportive and trusting relationships with their daughters, we can help stop the cycle. It is always good for children to have an outside listening ear, but we want mothers to be the voice their daughters rely on most.”
The most crucial thing Sonya wants to convey to everyone reading this is, “Self-love is power. When you truly love yourself, everything around you changes for the good.”