The Silent Grief That’s Plaguing Our Girls

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by Leatrice Burphy, Guest Blogger 

There are no words to adequately describe the heartbreaking and tragic ending to a life short lived. Bobbi Kristina was one of too many young women in the grieving girls club, whose cry for help was often ignored or misunderstood. Her death is a grim reminder to every adult; children cannot cope with loss or emotional trauma without a support system. When there is a lack of guidance in a grieving child’s life, they tend to look for love, comfort, and refuge from the wrong people and influences. This is a wake-up call for America. Sometimes, your love and pep talks are not enough to save a young person impacted by tragedy.

I read once, “Grief is the most powerful emotion, yet it is the one emotion, we are taught the least about in our society.” In the light of all that is happening in the country right now, it’s time to start an open dialogue with our younger generation about this silent killer. The truth is, you never get over a death, it is something you learn to live with. Grief does not get better with time, it just gets different.

Often the “forgotten grievers” in our culture, people underestimate how fragile and vulnerable young people can be in that state of mind. Bereavement puts them at a higher risk for alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, depression, mental illness, violent behavior, suicide, promiscuity, truancy, and the list goes on. Because children and teens are not taught how to handle an emotional crisis beforehand, recovery is highly dependent on their support system. In some cases, this may require professional counseling.

We were given a glimpse into the private world of Bobbi Kristina after Whitney Houston died. While the reality show aired, there were red flags Bobbi Kristina was a ticking time bomb. What caused a greater concern for me, were the family and friends who acknowledged the problem, but did not stage an intervention. There should have been a unified force to get her into rehab and grief therapy. For a young person greatly affected by death, divorce, domestic violence, and addiction; she needed more than prayers, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on.

Bobbi Kristina endured a life filled with anguish but did not have the mental capacity to cope with it. Studies show girls self-medicate to numb the pain and escape emotions caused from traumatic experiences. As a result, they will most likely battle drug and alcohol abuse. Often ridicule for being rebellious and out of control, this girl was actually hurting and crying out for help.  The writing on the wall was crystal clear in her interview with Oprah, tweets on social media, and last text message. If there was an intervention for Bobbi Kristina, the outcome of her story could have been one that brought a smile to our faces, instead of tears to our eyes.

Burying a twenty-two-year-old whose potential we will never know, hits close to home. Like Bobbi Kristina, I am also a part of the grieving girls club. A year after my father lost his battle to illness; my brother was murdered at twenty-two. I had no idea that magnitude of pain existed, and it rocked me to the core. “Grief affects everything you do, and it can disrupt every aspect of your life, in ways you least expect.” But I can attest, therapy (creative or traditional) and a strong support system can save a young person’s life because it saved mine.

How can we fight for the girls, like Bobbi Kristina?

(1). We need to break the silence in our homes, schools, and communities because grief knows no boundaries.

(2). We need to advocate for laws that will require grief therapy for young people and grief training for the adults responsible for them.

(3). We need to create long-term grief support programs where our grieving youth can find a safe haven, in the company of their peers who understand their loss.

Just like I never stopped praying for Bobbi Kristina, I will never stop fighting for our future in the grieving girls club.

LeatriceLeatrice Burphy is the founder of A LEGACY Left Behind, Inc. The 501 (C)(3) organization provides grief support and mentoring services to young ladies in the DC Metro Area who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling. Inspired to give a voice to children and teens who are often the “forgotten grievers” in our society, she has created a platform to raise awareness about the impact of grief among the younger generation and the lack of support programs and resources available to them. In 2014, Leatrice was honored with the Next Generation Award from the Business Resource TV (BR-TV) for her philanthropic work in the DC Metro Area. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the United Nations Association.

 

We’ve Got the Political Power: 3 Reasons Millennials Need to Vote

Source: ivn.us
Source: ivn.us

by Monica Reid, Guest Blogger

What comes to mind when you hear the number 78 million?

78 million is the current baby boomer generation. What generation could be larger than 78 million?

As it currently stands, the millennial generation is the largest and most diverse generation in American history with a whopping 95 million people. The millennial voting strength has increased as a result. In 2012, millennial voters ages 18-29 comprised 19% of the electorate. According to the Center for American Progress, millennials are a full quarter of the voting-age American public with 46 million potential voters. This is in comparison to the 39 million block of voters older than age 65. Needless to say, we are a force to be reckoned with! However, are we truly aware of just how much political power we possess?

However, are we truly aware of just how much political power we possess?

#1. We can change the political direction of this country.

In 2014, millennials only comprised 13% of the electorate compared to 19% in 2012. This represents approximately 14 million fewer millennial voters. The 2008 presidential election was a peak year for youth voter turnout with 52%. However during the 2012 presidential election the turnout dropped to 45%. In nonpresidential elections, we definitely see a trend of lower voter turnout among millennial voters. However, the relevance of our issues is not isolated to just presidential elections. A number of elections take place every year that determine the composition of our local city councils, state attorney’s, governorships and our state legislatures. As millennial voters, and specifically black millennial voters, seeking to influence policy and successfully implement legislation of interest to our communities, continually engaging in our electoral process is vital. Every election is important. In 2012, 43% of voting age millennials were people of color.

#2. Our Votes Impact Black Lives Matter.

We’ve all seen how the instances of deadly force used toward black men and women by law enforcement have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve seen how their actions are impacting elected officials at all levels of government and bringing issues of racial and criminal justice reform to the forefront. Continued civic engagement by millennials in keeping elected officials accountable, electing candidates that support our issues and encouraging other members of our community to get involved will be crucial.

In Virginia, a coalition of civic organizations is doing just that – seeking to engage more black residents in Northern Virginia in the political process. The Northern Virginia (NOVA) Coalition is a collaboration of 30+ civic and faith-based organizations in Northern Virginia focusing on African American voter registration, education and empowerment. Through its “NOVA Votes: Educating and Encouraging the Black Vote Campaign,” we’ve been able to reach thousands of black voters in Northern Virginia. Between now and the October 13th deadline, we are launching an aggressive voter registration campaign to in Northern Virginia in preparation for the November election. This is a perfect opportunity to get more involved and engaged! We are always looking for new collaborations, partnerships and volunteers to help us reach our goal. If you are interested in learning more or in volunteering, you may contact nova.coalition.events@gmail.com.   

#3. If we don’t show up we cannot complain.

As millennials we are notorious for bluntly expressing how we feel. Sometimes our arguments warranted, other times they are baseless. In the case of our communities and who is in leadership, we will have zero legs to stand on if we don’t vote. Local votes are not as complicated as presidential ones. Because fewer people turn out to vote, the greater our chances are to get who we want in office. Learn when your local elections are, educate yourselves about the candidates and SHOW UP to vote. If you don’t, you cannot complain.

We have the political power to change this country. Let’s get to it!

monicaMonica Reid, a graduate of George Mason University where she received a B.A. in Government & International Politics and Economics and a Masters in Public Administration, has been a leading force behind social and civic awareness for a number of years. A dedicated public servant and a government relations professional with over 8 years of professional experience, Monica has worked to promote civil awareness, political engagement and advocacy throughout the Washington Metropolitan Region.

Hey #DC! Brunch For A Cause Is Back!

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Hey DC! We’re a proud sponsor of A Diva State of Mind’s Brunch for a Cause!

This DC brunch series returns in June to benefit Safe Shores & Shepherd’s Table. Lifestyle blogger & stylist Keri Henderson of A Diva State of Mind, combined her love of brunch with friends and passion for giving back to the community, to create her brunch series A Diva State of Mind Presents: Brunch for a Cause in 2014. Last year she hosted two brunches that attracted over 80 attendees and raised funds for DC area non-profit organizations. This highly anticipated brunch series returns this summer!

The brunch will benefit Safe Shores – The DC Children’s Advocacy Center and Shepherd’s Table. Safe Shores is celebrating 20 years of serving child victims of abuse and is a direct service nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and working directly with child victims of sexual and physical abuse in the District of Columbia. Shepherd’s Table provides help to people who are homeless or in need by providing basic services including meals, social services, medical support, clothing and other assistance in an effective and compassionate manner.

All attendees will enjoy an afternoon of networking, a three course meal, unlimited mimosas and more! Along with purchasing a ticket, all guests will be asked to bring ONE inkind donation for EACH organization or make a monetary donation at the door.

When: Sunday, June 14, 2015

Where: M Street Bar & Grill 2033 M Street NW Washington, DC

Time: 12:30pm

Tickets: $38 | http://www.brunchforacause2015.eventbrite.com

It is Keri’s hope that each Brunch for a Cause event will become more successful than the last and collectively, individuals can raise money or collect a significant amount of in-kind donations for great organizations serving the DC community.

Keri is a lifestyle blogger and personal stylist in the DC area. She’s an advocate for community service and seeks to host events in the DC area that are fashionable, fun and focused on giving back to the community. Visit www.adivastateofmind.com for more information.

Our 2014 #GivingTuesday Top Charity Picks!

 

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We haven’t done a Giving Tuesday Top Picks List since 2012. It seemed fitting that we make an old thing new again and help you find an organization to support today on #GivingTuesday.

What IS Giving Tuesday, you ask? We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Started in 2012 by the 92st Y and the United Nations Foundation, we now have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Who are we to deny you this opportunity to give back?!

That being said, here are a few of our faves. Go a head make it rain on ’em.

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Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture: The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.

Black Benefactors:  A Washington, D.C – based giving circle comprised of individuals, businesses and organizations dedicated to addressing the societal ills facing the African American community in the DC region.

St. Jude Children’s Research Center: St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today’s most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly.

Dance Theatre of Harlem: Dance Theatre of Harlem is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global acclaim, encompassing a performing Ensemble, a leading arts education center and Dancing Through Barriers®, a national and international education and community outreach program. Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, Dance Theatre of Harlem was considered “one of ballet’s most exciting undertakings” (The New York Times, 1971). Shortly after the assassination of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitchell was inspired to start a school that would offer children — especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born — the opportunity to learn about dance and the allied arts.

First Book DC – provides new books to children in need. The DC chapter is helping to increase literacy rates in areas where poverty levels are at an all time high. Donate $10 and that equals 4 books!

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance. The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents — as well as millions more through television broadcasts.

H.O.P.E. Scholarship InitiativeThe H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Pursue Education) Scholarship Initiative was founded in 2010 by two Howard University alumni committed to serving their communities. The organization’s philanthropic efforts are geared toward rewarding deserving students with scholarships through the assistance of grassroots level fundraising and corporate sponsorships.

Epitome of Soul: Epitome of Soul, Inc. strives to partner with community organizations to equip, empower, and encourage performing arts high school and college students to strive for academic excellence and cultural growth.

African American Board Leadership Institute: The mission of the African American Board Leadership Institute is to strengthen nonprofit, public and private organizations through recruiting, preparing and placing African Americans on a broad range of governing boards.

Add your organization and a link to its donation page in the comment section below! Sharing is caring!!!!

Divine Giving to St. Jude by The Divine Nine

Final Photo: Richard Lee Snow (ALSAC, at mic); Mark S. Tillman (General President – Alpha Phi Alpha); Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson (National President – Alpha Kappa Alpha); Thomas L. Battles, Jr. (National Vice President – Kappa Alpha Psi); Antonio F. Knox, Sr. (National President – Omega Psi Phi); Ebonie Johnson Cooper (Representative – Delta Sigma Theta); Daryl Anderson (Executive Director – Phi Beta Sigma); Stacye Montez (Executive Director – Zeta Phi Beta); Bonita M. Herring (National President – Sigma Gamma Rho); Robert M. Clark, Jr. (National President – Iota Phi Theta); and Richard C. Shadyac, Jr. (President & CEO, ALSAC)
Final Photo: Richard Lee Snow (ALSAC, at mic); Mark S. Tillman (General President – Alpha Phi Alpha); Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson (National President – Alpha Kappa Alpha); Thomas L. Battles, Jr. (National Vice President – Kappa Alpha Psi); Antonio F. Knox, Sr. (National President – Omega Psi Phi); Ebonie Johnson Cooper (Representative – Delta Sigma Theta); Daryl Anderson (Executive Director – Phi Beta Sigma); Stacye Montez (Executive Director – Zeta Phi Beta); Bonita M. Herring (National President – Sigma Gamma Rho); Robert M. Clark, Jr. (National President – Iota Phi Theta); and Richard C. Shadyac, Jr. (President & CEO, ALSAC)

We don’t hear enough about the philanthropic giving of fraternal and social organizations within the black community. We know the organizations collect dues and provide local programs but they also provide financial support to causes that affect our community. These causes include education, breast cancer awareness, nutrition, HIV & AIDS prevention and yes, childhood cancer, to name a few. One such childhood cancer cause is my favorite, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

I first learned about the National Pan-Hellenic Council’s partnership with St. Jude when I visited the campus back in May. I remember being so excited to see the Kappa’s Sunday of Hope wall. As a fellow PanHell member, I felt an immediate personal connection to the hospital. I later learned that all nine of the black Greek-letter organizations have committed to supporting St. Jude year-round. To date, the organizations have collectively donated nearly $2 million to St. Jude. They have done so through various individual programs including:  Sunday of Hope, a faith-based program where churches are recruited to support St. Jude; Give thanks. Walk, an annual walkathon in over 70 markets across the country; Girls Night In, a peer-to-peer fundraising event where members host individual social gatherings; and Game Day Give Back, a peer-to-peer fundraising event where members host Super Bowl parties. Coming up on November 22, team chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. will walk in the St. Jude Give Thanks Walk as National Gold and Silver Level teams, respectively.

To thank the organizations, St. Jude invited members of the organization’s leadership to be recognized during the Congressional Black Caucus Weekend. The evening was amazing! St. Jude brought their Memphis hospitality to Washington, D.C. Not to mention, the National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., asked me to accept the award on her behalf, as she had to attend another event. ME?! Little ol’ me?! I humbly and graciously accepted. I think it took me about a week to get over the shock and another few days to stop welling up with happy tears. However, nothing compared to the emotion-filled presentation by St. Jude patient-celebrity Kimberlin George.

Kimberlin and I. She's so amazing!
Kimberlin and I. She’s so amazing!

Kimberlin took the stage strong and proud like the fighter she is. In 1982 she became the first person to be cured of sick cell anemia. She was cured by the doctors at St. Jude with the use of a life-saving blood transfusion to cure her Acute Myeloid Leukemia. As we all sat and listened to Kimberlin tell her story there wasn’t a dry eye in the room – including her own. She ended her remarks by reminding the NPHC organizations how important their support is and how grateful she always will be to the St. Jude community. St. Jude isn’t just a place where she was cured, it is a home away from home and the staff are like her family.

Kimberlin’s name is just one of thousands that St. Jude has saved. The research center would not be able to do the work it does without the generosity of organizations like the Divine Nine. Patients like Kayla, Khamoni andEthan may not be here were it not for the hope St. Jude gives to them and their families.

I’m proud to be a member of the Divine Nine. It makes me even prouder as a St. Jude blogger to know my sorority believes in and goes the extra mile for children who need us so much.

Dare to make a difference! Stand with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and help make a difference in the lives of children living with a devastating diagnosis. “Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has the freedom to focus on what matters most—saving kids regardless of their financial situation.” Learn more about how you can partner with St. Jude and help fulfill founder Danny Thomas’ dream of a day when no child dies in the dawn of life.

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To join a team, form a team or donate for the November 22, St. Jude Give Thanks Walk, visit givethankswalk.org

Check out highlights from the St. Jude/ CBC reception:

YBGB Digital Launch Party ReCap PLUS Our First Institute Class is Next Week!

by E. Johnson Cooper

Last Wednesday was truly awesome! If you missed the digital launch you truly missed a good thing. Viewers learned all about the Institute, why I started it, how it works, and all that jazz. We also laughed, cracked jokes, ate bon bons and toasted with bubbly. See you missed a good par-tay! Lucky for you, we’ve got it all on tape. See below. 🙂

Since April I’ve been working behind the scenes to craft the what I hope will be the perfect learning space for my millennial and not-so millennial peers. The idea of creating an online learning portal for young, black philanthropy education is well, different. I know. But no matter how different and innovative it is, it will only be as successful as the folks who enroll. That being said, I’m excited to host the very FIRST elective class next week! The class is entitled: 4 Ways to Maximize Your Time, Talents & Treasures. It will teach you exactly what it says it will, plus get the scoop on the Institute and how you can enroll!

Things are moving quickly so don’t miss out. Please be part of this amazing experience with us!

WATCH THE PARTY/ INFO SESSION! 

Copy of Fall 2014_Register

 

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