The Silent Grief That’s Plaguing Our Girls

sad-girl-cry

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.

 

St. Jude Returned to CBC to Thank The Divine Nine

By Ebonie Johnson Cooper, St. Jude Blogger

ALC_8173
Presidents of the National PanHellenic Council Organizations stand proudly with their awards from St. Jude.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is truly a magical place. When I visited in the spring of 2014, my mind and my heart were opened to the life-changing work of the men and women there. So when I left I committed to being a life-long supporter of their work. My commitment was renewed last year when I walked in the St. Jude Give Thanks Walk, interviewed the founders of Black Girls Run! for their unique fundraiser for the research hospital, and undoubtedly when I attended the St. Jude NPHC reception during Congressional Black Caucus Week. Well, just last week I attended the CBC reception again and I was reminded why I love St. Jude.

The face of childhood cancer holds no bias and no prejudice. But thanks to the spirit of St. Jude founder, Danny Thomas there is hope for those children who do experience a cancer diagnosis. Thomas believed that “No child should die in the dawn of life,” and to this day St. Jude operates under those words. About 11,630 children age 14 and younger are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year. One in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday. For African Americans in particular, approximately one in 375 African-Americans is born with sickle cell disease each year. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has one of the largest and most active Sickle Cell Disease Programs in the nation. St. Jude treats approximately 800 children per year with sickle cell disease. Bone marrow (or stem cell) transplantation is the only cure for sickle cell disease. The cure was first performed successfully in 1983 when St. Jude patient, Kimberlin George received a life-saving blood transfusion to cure her Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She became the first person to be cured of sick-cell anemia. St. Jude rarely performs this procedure because a perfect bone marrow match is so rare and the complications are risky. However, progress St. Jude makes in helping patients live with sickle cell, pain-free, is phenomenal! This work could not be done without the generous support of individual donors, corporations and community organizations like the Divine Nine of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

To date, the NPHC organizations have collectively donated nearly $2 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They have done so through various individual programs including, St. Jude Sunday of Hope, the faith-based program where churches are recruited to collect one love offering for St. Jude; St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk. that took place in nearly 70 communities across the country; Girls Night In, a peer-to-peer fundraising event where members host individual social gatherings; and St. Jude Game Day. Give Back., a peer-to-peer fundraising event where members host Super Bowl parties to benefit the hospital. Last month, members of the Divine Nine joined the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer across 58 cities. Delta Sigma Theta served as a Gold Sponsor, and Iota Phi Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho,  and Alpha Phi Alpha served as Bronze Sponsors.

At the CBC reception, St. Jude recognized and thanked the leadership of the Divine Nine. We heard patient stories and were no doubt blessed by the voice of Vivian Green. Just like last year, I left the reception renewed and enthused to advocate for the work of St. Jude. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I could not be prouder to know my sorority is committed to the work of such a life-changing place.

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.

Hey #DC! Brunch For A Cause Is Back!

Brunch-For-A-Cause-2015-1024x1024

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.

#IAMYBGB: Clemmie Perry

Clemmie PErry

 

The golf course or the green is where business deals happen. Big deals, small deals and those in between happen on the golf course. There’s a power on the course that provides the opportunity for banter, negotiation and real-time deal closing. Despite the power on the green, there is a shortage of women and definitely a shortage of women of color. Clemmie Perry, founder of Women of Color Golf and Girls on the Green T, has made it her mission to change this.

When sharing her story of learning the game Clemmie told Forbes, “It was exciting, and I was making all these new friends and contacts. It opened a whole new world for me. But I also realized when I was out on the course, I rarely saw women who looked like me out there.” She also saw the need for young girls of color to learn the game. So she started Girls on the Green T to work with girls ages 14 – 22. The girls receive weekly golf lessons as well as establish mentoring relationships and take classes in health and financial literacy. “This is a world many of these girls never even knew existed, let alone thought they could gain access to. We can be an entry way for them to see a different kind of future,” says Perry. “We’re trying to prepare them to enter into a diverse and quickly changing world.” (Forbes)

We salute Clemmie and her team on a job well done! Learn more on Clemmie Perry and her work to bring women and girls of color into the world of golf here.

Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

#IAMYBGB: Sha’Condria “Icon” Sibley

Sha'Condria Sibley

 

Sha’Condria Sibley uses her voice to inspire, activate and motivate others. She’s more than a artist, she is an artistic changemaker. In addition to rocking the mic at poetry slams in NOLA, she teaches youth about spoken word and using their voices to create change. Today we honor her and her BIG voice for making a difference in her community.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

Watch her work!

Say it Loud! I’m Young, Black & Giving Back!

Say it loud...

Last week we kicked off of our digital campaign: “I AM Young, Black and Giving Back” We could not be more excited! If you have been sleeping on this dope campaign now is the time to wake up and check out #IAMYBGB on social media.

I AM_ShowMeShoes (2)The I AM Young, Black & Giving Back is a digital campaign focused on young, black givers and the cause work they care the most about. Our goal is to recognize and applaud the work these individuals do to impact their communities. Through our platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we will engage with some of the best and the brightest young, black givers-  that includes YOU! That’s right,  the best part of this campaign is that it involves YOU! We want to know what motivates you to give, why you give, how you give!

Often times we recognize those doing good but we fail to truly celebrate them and that is what this campaign is all about. It is not about simply taking notice that young, black philanthropists, leaders, and activists exist but we also want to honor their contributions. We know that by elevating the work you do, we not only will be inspired but other young, black givers will be inspired to give more and better than ever! So how are we going both celebrate and inspire?

So glad you asked!

We will host an information-packed twitter chat on April 14 and two young, black giver features each week through April 30!

When it comes to being young, black and giving back we never want to lose sight of the inspiration behind the phrase. We take your work and our work very seriously and want to ensure you always have a place to shine! Here’s to you!

We look forward to celebrating with you guys! Say it loud, “I am Young, Black, Giving Back …& I am proud!”

Peace.

By Maya Ollie, Social Media Intern

Blog_1
Me in Village 235

 

As a Bonner Service Scholar at my soon to be alma mater Christopher Newport University (roughly 100 days left but who’s counting?), I have amazing experiences in service. One of which was our service trip abroad. It took place in Quito, Ecuador at a nonprofit known as Casa Victoria. The Casa Victoria mission is simple: shape and enhance the lives of the impoverished youth of Quito. The entire staff carries out this mission with such a spirit of service, humility and passion—it inspired me more than words can adequately express.

Taking the 20-min walk to the Village
Taking the 20-min walk to the Village

While in Ecuador I had the opportunity to visit in an Afro-Ecuadorian village known as Village 235. All we were told about the village, as it was a three hour drive outside of Quito, followed by a 20 minute walk into the Andes Mountains. I will admit I was slightly skeptical about walking the Ecuadorian countryside to a village that I knew absolutely nothing about. I was not sure what to expect. However, when we arrived to the village we were greeted with undeniable warmth, genuine hugs and smiles that lit my heart up. From the youngest and most adorable toddlers, to the respected elders of the village, everyone we met was so kind to us was nearly inconceivable. We received a tour of the village that consisted of a schoolhouse, a recreation hall, a concrete soccer field, and a string of small homes for the population of roughly 200 villagers.

After our tour we were able to speak with the teenagers and one of the first questions we asked was, “What would change about your village if you could”? The overwhelming response we received was fixing the soccer field. Fixing the soccer field is what a room full of teenagers wanted to change about their village. They did not want Wi-Fi or cable television, and the idea of a paved road was not even mentioned, just a better soccer field. From my perspective the village needed so many amenities and upgrades but the villagers did not seem to notice or care about their materialistic poverty. Finally, we asked what was their favorite part of the village and answers poured out from all over the room. But the that answer stood out and was universally agreed upon was, “The peace in the village. I love the peace”. In that moment I was convicted with the epiphany that the people of Village 235 were not living an impoverished life. Their life contained more wealth than I could have ever imagined. It hit me everyone can create their own Village 235, a place of peace and love. Peace exists in the village because of the people who inhabit it are humble, grateful, and love all those they meet incredibly well.

My hope is to be more grateful, humble, and love better so my life contains wealth and I owe that to the 200 villagers of Village 235.