Thursday, August 12, 2010
It's been two weeks since I last posted and 1 week since my staycation that turned into a vacation, (thank to the Black Youth Leadership Development Institute -BYLDI). I'm just still trying to get back into work mode because once I do, it's on from now until December 20, 2010. I'll get a 10 day break and then back on until August 1, 2011. I swear, I work way to hard for pennies, but when you love what you do, it's not about the money... However, as a serious business woman, I have to continuously look at that bottom line. Potential sponsors, something must change in the new year.
Shout out to BYLDI and Alvin Dollar. Alvin and I connect every 5-7 years. I first met him when I got to Atlanta (back in 1995-96) and landed my first major client NFL star Cornelius Bennett, who hired my company, Chit Chat Communications (which is my other baby, now 17 years old, Sisters of Today & Tomorrow is my 2nd baby, which is only 2 years old come Oct. 1) to handle all his public / community relations efforts.
If you are serious about working in the community in Atlanta, you have to know Alvin Dollar. Thus our relationship with the City of Atlanta and the Dunbar Center began. Who would have known, that 14 years later, Alvin & I would connect on facebook, I would have a nonprofit, Sisters of Today & Tomorrow (SOT), empowering girls through self esteem, education, health & fitness and entrepreneurship as well as personal development and Alvin had this beautiful jewel on the coast of Georgia, that directly works with building black youth leaders with Dr. Mildred McClain and the Harambee House.
Well, Alvin and I connected, he came out to the Sisters of Tomorrow Conference, and invited the girls and I to the BYLDI at St. Simon's Island. At least two of the girls planned to go, however that didn't happen, so I thought I wouldn't be able to go, because the conference is for youth, not adults. But I called Alvin and told him my interest in still attending and he shared this with his son Abdul, (who came up in the program and is now the Youth Director). Abdul called and said I was still welcome to attend and I offered my presentation services to discuss either entrepreneurship, public relations and/or self esteem. Abdul accepted my offer to present.
Since I wanted to attend my 3rd grade BFF's 40th birthday party, I didn't get to St. Simon's Island on the day it began, I ended up getting there mid-week, which was right on time...
I took the Greyhound Bus (it wasn't bad at all. If you sit at the front of the bus and mind your business, you will be fine) to Brunswick, where Alvin picked me up and as soon as we got to the resort, I met the esteemed Dr. Mildred McClain, Executive Director & Founder of Harambee House, Inc. and Abdul Dollar, Adult Coordinator BYLDI; We ate breakfast and met some great people. I even met a man that sung at my other BFF's grandmother's funeral in Savannah earlier this year. When I say this world is small, it truly is. Who would have thought I would meet a man that sung at my BFF from New Haven, grandmother's funeral. Weird but funny and true. (stuff like that always happens to me though). I called J-Ru right away. (that's the BFF, I'm talking about)
Side Conversation: By the way, still no call from Oprah, (see the Plight blog), but I did talk to Malaak Rock via email about going on the South Africa trip with her and her youth in NY. I don't think that is going to happen, but at least we are back in contact.
Well, I thought once I ate breakfast, I would go shower, chill and then connect with the youth etc. That didn't happen, right after breakfast, we went into the workshops... It was so interesting though. That particular morning the question was "What are the issues most pressing to black youth". They listed everything from crime to peer pressure, eviction, abortion, obesity, teen pregnancy and more. I was just like "WOW"! I know some of the issue, but not all that they named. Ya'll we have alot of work to do, so if you are reading this blog, OUR YOUTH NEED YOU.
After that workshop, it was my turn to present and after I was introduced and gave the kids background information on myself, I asked them what their interest were and what they wanted to be when they grew up. From there we created vision boards, so they could see what it is they say they want to be. I had my magazines and glue. BYLDI provided they scissors and poster boards and we got busy. Once we finished, I had them to present their board to the best of their ability. We had everything from Social Workers, a General Contractor, Fashion Designers, a Pediatrician, Custom Auto Body Shop, Professional Softball player and more. When I say our youth are creative, they are beyond creative...
After our presentation and that of other groups it was lunch time... Now anybody who knows me, knows, this is sounding like big fun for Carla, cause I love to eat... Forreal it was 3 square meals a day as much as you can eat, kinda college style, however the cooks put they foot in every meal. It was seasoned and everything.
After an additional session, I finally was brought to my room, where I jumped in the shower, getting refreshed and took a nap, only to wake up to my cousin Marcy, who lives in the area calling. (I told you I know someone in every major city on the east coast. Even the not so major cities, I know somebody and my networking self will call you if I'm close by. That's just how I do). Well, Marcy and her family came by to see me and ended up having dinner with us, which was a treat.
After dinner there was the talent show, which was AWESOME! Extremely talented is this group of young people. Shout out to Mami Chula and Augusta G., representing' for Cabin 1B. These kids rapped, sung, oratorical presentation and more. Raw talent.
It was all about me... I got up early in the morning with the girls to do Tai Chi (doesn't that sound cool?) Dr. McClain and staff believe it is important that you start the morning with a sound body and mind and exercising can help with that. I got my exercise on, went to breakfast, changed into my bathing suit, soaked in the sun (I have an extremely nice tan. My black skin is so even and smooth. I got compliments all day at the Bronner Brothers Hair Show) and swam a few laps in the pool, all by 10:30am. It was all good. Thanks BYDLI.
I'm not going to go through the entire trip, because that would be an additional 10 paragraphs, but the highlights from this point include: A trip to Savannah to see actor Lou Gossett, where we also visited the Savannah pier, passed by Paula Dean's restaurant, 1st African Baptist Church and Savannah State University. I even got a Zeta paddle from the plot. It is know amongst soror and frat, if you leave your stuff, it just might get got. And that's what happened. :)
The end of the BYLDI was a ceremonial session which included us dressing in all white and walking out to the edge of the Atlantic Coast where we held hands and prayed. Many years ago, our ancestors had locked arms and walked into the water drowning themselves because they no longer wanted to be enslaved at a location near where we were. We prayed in remembrance of them as well as for the sisters and brothers at war for our freedom currently.
I went on this trip not knowing anyone but Alvin. I had only spoken to his son on the telephone, however, by the time the trip was over, I had developed another family that can only add to my Sisters of Today & Tomorrow family. The true highlight for me was Dr. McClain singing her own made up song about Abdul Dollar coming into the BYLDI program 21 years ago, his transition into manhood, his experience in Africa and him now becoming the leader of the BYLDI. That touched me, to the point that I was boo hooing all over the place. Just to think if I could touch one kid like that, my life experiences (good, bad & ugly) will be worth it all. Thinking about it now leaves me all choked up.
Thank you Dr. McClain, Alvin Dollar & Abdul Dollar. I look forward to many years of working with the BYLDI. Mark your calendars, Saturday, February 12, 2011, Alvin Dollar, BYLDI & SOT Black History Program in Decatur, GA.