June has been a whirlwind of a month, and I can’t believe how fast the month has flown by. Graduations, weddings, anniversaries and summer fun together make for a joyful time. To top it all off, let us not forget Father’s Day. The Who’s Your Daddy organization, of which Snoop Doggy Dog is an active member, reaches out to dads everywhere to salute, support, help and assist where needed. If you think it’s tough being a mom, try being a dad. Even though I have to take the weight for everything, I am still glad I am the mom.
Providing a shoulder and voice of support is the Harlem CARES Mentoring Movement, the volunteer organization that acts like mom and dad to youngsters most in need by providing each child with a mentor. The group celebrated their sixth anniversary most recently at Londel’s Restaurant, Eighth Avenue and 140th Street. Mistress of ceremonies for the evening was Autumn Robinson, who did a wonderful job of welcoming Susan Taylor, founder and CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement and editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence magazine; Chadwick Roberson; Veronica Holly, daughter of Ronnie Holly; Sekou Writes of Brown Boy Bad; and founding chair Rochelle Hill. It is so good to be on Taylor’s email blast list as she is involved in so many worthy causes, and this is certainly one of them. Taylor travels across the country inspiring men and women of color, in particular, to volunteer and become a mentor.
Among those given special recognition was Veronica Holly, assistant director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education, Teachers College, Columbia University. Holly oversees the Technical Assistance and Incubation Services division. The IUME was founded in 1973 by professors Edmund W. Gordon and Erwin Flaxman of Teachers College. Since its inception, IUME has been committed to conducting research and evaluation, providing information services and assisting schools, community-based organizations, parents and school leaders in program development, evaluation, professional development and parent education. IUME is located on the Teachers College main campus and is directed by Dr. Ernest Morrell.
IUME joined forces with Harlem CARES in the fall of 2009 to help promote mentoring services in the Harlem area. Working together, the partnership has steadily increased the recruitment of caring adults as they connect the volunteers to local mentoring programs throughout the city. From 2009 to 2013, IUME had offices in the Theresa Towers, formerly the Hotel Theresa, where it served as a central training location for the Harlem CARES movement. The evening at Londel’s was delightful, and DJ Antoine DeBrill rocked the box as guests enjoyed hor’dourves and happy hour.
The Sundowners held their annual picnic at the Forest Lodge Caterers in Warren Township, N.J. The all-you-can-eat-and-drink party lasted long after sundown. Featured on the menu was all of the usual summer fixings: barbecue ribs, fried chicken, fried fish, baked beans, corn on the cob, fresh fruit, wine, soda and beer. You get the picture. With hundreds of people pouring into the by-invitation-only event, I’m sure someone you know was there.
Community leaders, philanthropists, prominent New Yorkers and approximately 800 others gathered beside the lake at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park to celebrate “A Taste of Summer.” The annual benefit supports the Central Park Conservancy’s mission of restoring and maintaining Central Park. The event raised $800,000 and was generously sponsored by Macquarie. More than 35 restaurants participated in the event, offering samples of their specialties. Among those seen tasting were Carol Sutton Lewis, Nina Whittington Cooper, Amelia Ogunlesi, Jean Shafiroff and Kimberly Hatchett.
Happy birthday, William Palmer, Kevin Tarrant, and happy anniversary, Wilbur and Harriet DeLaney.
In the wake of the tragedy that has taken place in Charleston, S.C., rather than continue on with the latest in festivities, it is most appropriate to focus on another aspect of social news. I came across a piece written by Thema Bryant-Davis, a psychologist, minister and author. Bryant-Davis offers her perspective and advice for healing, which I thought was worth repeating. She writes, “We all respond to trauma differently, and there is a need for emotional space to acknowledge the impact of our experiences. We may feel shock, anger, sadness, fear or even numbness, and we may seek out people or we may isolate ourselves. Some experience intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance and avoidance of things and people that remind us of the trauma. It is important to take time to heal and to acknowledge the impact of the violations. The consequences of these traumatic experiences cross generational lines, effecting children and elders who are all deserving of care. It is important for us to know these traumas affect us but do not define us. We are more than our wounds, and yet our wounds need to be tended.
“In our community, there has often been a stigma about attending therapy, but there have been a range of ways we have coped, survived and healed. Some of these include turning to family and friends, the arts, our faith, and activism. Each of these are valuable and it is also important for us to consider the support of counseling with a counselor who is culturally aware of both the realities of racism and the richness and strength of our culture beyond racism.”
Among Bryant-Davis’ seven steps on how we can respond to the trauma in Charleston are the following:
• Be still and heal instead of getting busy and ignoring our pain.
• Connect with family and friends who have showed they are trustworthy and kind.
• Engage in self-care by taking time to eat, sleep, exercise and engage in other health-promoting behaviors.
• Remember that shame often keeps us silent and isolated, but it is a gift to find those with whom we can speak of our pain without masks.
• There are times when we need to choose to release the pain for our mental and spiritual health, but we also have to recognize when someone is not a safe person for us to have in our intimate space.
• Do not to settle for merely surviving, but to go the next step to thriving and post-traumatic growth. We want to live an abundant, empowered life, and that has to be our aim.
• Look for ways that we can give back, create positive change, resist oppression and serve those who can benefit from the lessons we’ve learned.
Until next week … kisses.