DIVAS Calendar Front

DIVAS Calendar Front

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Power of Parents in Groups

This morning was the Orientation Meeting for our 2011 DIVAS Summer Mentoring Program. At around 9:45 am I was having flashbacks from last year- one parent, two girls and three facilitators. At 9:55 am, same. However, around 10:03 am, people started trickling in, greeting each other. By the time the meeting was in full launch at around 10:25 am, the room was full of parents and program participants. There was also something else happening; mothers were greeting and meeting each other, daughters were engaged in the planning of the meeting--- there was audible and physical 'community' happening, and it was AWESOME... it was AWESOME.

As we gathered to audit our summer schedule, I realized that the way we communicated with each other and connected with the overarching spirit of this program was an answer to prayer. I mean, needs were voiced, provisions were made; ideas were presented, plans of action were adopted. Constructive critisicism, encouragement, creativity, and enthusiasm merged together and I truly believe this program has established the grassroots to become the statewide model we dreamed of in 1999.

How it will all play out this summer, we will see. Six weeks is a long time, but it also goes by in the blink of an eye. My thoughts are that it will all turn out exceptionally beautiful in the end:). Blessings, CH

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Prayer List for DIVAS 2011

There is something about writing out your expectations... as if just because you took the time to put your thoughts "out there" it somehow makes you accountable to make sure that your goals are reached.  As we prepare for this year's summer program, there are a host of "wishes" I would like to see fulfilled... I hope I am not alone in my thinking.  You may have a few of your own... please feel free to post your thoughts as well!

1.  I hope that all 30 seats will be filled with young woment of great diversity of gifts and talents;
2.  I hope they come with parents who are eager to join in and be an integral part of the program;
3.  I hope that all of the goals of our curriculum truly serve the needs of our participants;
4.  I hope our Program Facilitators grow even more confident in their capacity to reach our young women with the truth first and fun second;
5.  I hope DIVAS 2011 come as participants and leave as Sisters;
6.  I hope that this program will go to a spiritual level that it has never been before and reach hearts as well as minds;
7.  I hope that the daughters and parents of our program will grow closer and stronger;
8.  I hope that the community will put its arms around this initiative and give us what we need to launch these young women into successful, grounded futures;
9.  I hope that this year's Rites of Passage Banquet will be the most beautiful, most uplifting, most remarkable event in our 11 year history and will serve as an adequate lauch for our statewide initiative.
10. I hope that the LORD will be glorified in all of it and lay His hands upon all involved.

This year feels as if it is the pace setter for the years to come; please keep us in your prayers so that we can win our youth back from popular culture and set them on a road to success and blessing.  If you would like to help, please shoot us an email at divasflorida@gmail.com. Blessings, CH

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Ready for 'Round 12...

I would have never imagined that when DIVAS launched it's inaugural year in 1999, that 12 years later we would be still here.  I imagined that both me and then co-facilitator Krystal Gooding would have graduated from University and gotten married, living somewhere else with our own children and going through similar trials that we saw the parents of our participants going through with their children. 

Now, in 2011, we are planning for our 12th DIVAS Summer Class and it is quite surreal how culture and teenagers have changed but also how things have remained the same.  In the meanwhile, we have established traditions that have stood the test of time, deficits, layoffs, fallouts, and life in general.  We have had over 300 young women participate in the program in the last 11 years, and now we have former DIVAS coming back to work with the summer program to keep it alive as a community tradition.  Boy, am I getting older;)

But there are also greater, more exciting things to come.  This year's DIVAS Summer Program will launch our statewide DIVASFlorida Mentoring Network.  This network will serve as a forum for communities of women to help launch programs in their City/County and provide resources, information, motivation, and support as they seek to transform their society and their lives.  I AM SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS... it's been a long time coming! 

I personally invite women in Tallahasse, Leon County, and the Big Bend region who have a heart for youth to join us as we start a movement towards reclaiming true womanhood... one DIVA at a time.  For more information on how you  or your organization can get involved, please email us at DIVASFlorida@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Community of Women

It is easy to have this diva-complex... this notion that you know everything and that what ever you know is for the 'good of all mankind' because it is coming from you. That is the problem with the self-centered universe... it usually doesn't provide a space for others to shine because, well, you are in the way.

I must say that this weekend at our first Creative Brunch I was blindsided with the wisdom of others.  As our discussion agenda proceeded and we talked more and more, I found myself listening... listening as if my life depended on it.  In our small circle of women, women who came from all background, perspectives and experiences of life, I found that there is much more to be understood and for the first time in a long time, I was the mentee and not the mentor.

These women spoke of the pain of seeing their daughters being influenced by a society that objectified and culturally molested them.  They spoke of their bad decisions and the need to counteract the message of videos and songs that seemed to hold their daughters in a net of negative choices and consequences.  They spoke of militant action and community consensus to deal with these issues and stand up for their children. 

One mother spoke of the pain of confronting her child with the confession of the bad choices which led to her single motherhood.  She shared how she had to humble herself and tell her daughter the truth in love and communicate her desire to see her loved, settled, and confident in who she is so that her fate would not repeat itself in her.  I saw love in action and I was blessed to be there to hear it.

What would happen if all the mothers and big sisters and aunties of the world surrounded our young women and stood stronger than the Nation of Islam ever has in defense of their virtue, their innocence, and their womanhood.  I got a feeling that is what is happening here... the arms are beginning to link together and we are slowly standing up.  We can not stand idly by while culture degrades our young sisters and turns their minds into brothels... it can not happen on our watch. 

It is time to listen, it is time to take a stand... we invite you to join us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nothing goes as planned...

I am a wordy person.  Learning to say much in few words is challenging for me; but, if I want to blog I have to learn.  These days, the only way I can say little is by listening more.

As we begin the planning phase for the upcoming D.I.V.A.S. 2011 Summer Program, I find myself wanting, needing to LISTEN.  What is going on in the world?  What do young ladies need to know?  How can we inspire them to achieve more, accomplish more, be more productive for personal benefit?  These are questions I pose to open space... I am ready to listen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Case for Community

This program week has been interesting.  Part of our function as a Mentoring program is to provide opportunities for our participants to become "aware of their surroundings and contribute to their community".  It is sometimes amazing how when you write down a purpose, make a pledge, or state a mission, everything you do and plan somehow lines up with it.

On Wednesday, we caught the #14 StarMetro downtown to take a tour of our own City Hall.  Many of our participants, though they were born and raised here in Tallahassee, have never taken a tour of the building downtown.  Thanks to Michelle Bono and Delores Downing in City Manager Anita Favors-Thompson's office for facilitating this opportunity for the DIVAS.  They were able to sit in the Commissioner's seats, speak with the folks in Traffic Control (that was really scary!), and receive goodies and information on recycling and energy conservation tips from the Go Green Initiative.  Besides attending the first half of the city commission meeting that afternoon, one of our own DIVAS was called to do an impromptu speech before the commission at the request of Mayor Marks.  It was a good time, and the girls seemed to understand that there is a lot more to running a City than just the Police and the Utility company. 

On Thursday, we were able to have the Tallahassee Police Department's Gang Unit visit the program to discuss the recent gang activity in Southside Tallahassee.  The young ladies appeared to be a bit casual and sassy with the Officers, and I reiterated to them that despite attitudes that family members and others may have of the Police, those Officers have taken an oath to protect them and that should demand their highest respect.  I also reminded them that if they are not breaking the law, they have no reason to dislike police officers... in fact, they should support our local law enforcement because they keep us safe and do their job out of commitment to community and not income potential.  I am concerned about the way that our youth perceive the work of law enforcement and I hope to explore opportunities for our participants to gain more insight into this realm of government in the near future.

On Friday, we took a day to visit the pool at the Walker-Ford Community Center.  Although it was hot, the use of the pool- which resembled a family reunion weekend with all of the folks there- was a great way for the girls to see how our government facilitates the recreation and enjoyment of its citizens through something as simple as a swimming pool.  It is important to also note that use of the Walker-Ford Community Pool is free to Tallahassee residents this summer.  There were babies, grandparents, children, and teens enjoying the day; and there was adequate supervision, which lended to further enjoyment.  One of the young ladies felt that was the most fun she'd had this summer... that was huge.

On Saturday morning we had our first RainWash of the summer.  Hosted by the Paradise Grill & Bar on 7th & N. Meridian, the young ladies pre-sold tickets and we invited the community to be a part of the DIVAS movement.  And they responded... 'en masse'.  We washed cars the entire time... there was scarcely a moment when we were not taking tickets or donations.  For me, it was community at it's best; parents and children working side by side, people stopping by to get their cars washed or to simply donate to the program, and a beautiful day to serve as a backdrop to it all.  It does a heart good... the Lord simply blessed what we were doing in a magnificent way.  So much more could be said, but I will leave it at that.

As a child, I never knew the value of what my mother would teach me about community.  No matter which sector- families, organization, government- we are all so innately interwoven together that it is important for us to teach and show our young people now so that they may find their place to serve in the future.  If this program does anything for our participants, I hope it will do that.  Blessings, CH

Monday, June 21, 2010

'Bout our business...

Meaness in teenage girls translates into so much.  They can say things that sting like acid to each other yet go back and hang with the same chick they just tore down.  They can hate to be there yet can't wait to go back.  They despise you and yet want to be like you.  It's not an enigma... it just is what it is.

What is the source of this lashing out?  Well, when babies are hungry, they cry.  When teens are unsure and uncomfortable about themselves, they lash out.  They lash out on whoever is around; it is cruel, it is mean, but it is what it is.

What can you do about it?  Well, it's kinda like a hungry man with a recipe and ingredients.  It ain't food yet until he mixes them together by following the instructions, and he has to cope with the fact that he will indeed be hungry until the meal is done.  These young women are quite simply 'undone'... they are either improperly  mixed together or they have all the ingredients but are in need of instruction.

This leads me to the question, "Are we doing our teens a favor in leaving them to 'find' themselves?"  What do we leave thme to look for?  Do they have a point of reference they can employ?  In popular psychology's  quest for self-exploration, have we left our children to embrace chaos for the sake of creativity?  I have a lot of questions today I know, but everyday when I look at these young ladies, they seem to be saying "please show me something eternal... I want to be 'bout something."

Laying down foundational understanding requires order, set direction, and a sheer resolve that transcends their meaness and speaks the truth in love to them.  We may have to be open about the mistakes we have made and hinderances they have resulted in.  We must tell them there is a God and only a fool believes otherwise.  We should tell them they are divinely created to carry out a purpose on this earth according to a soveriegn design, and we have to believe and work with them until it is realized.  We will show them how to enjoy and love themselves as women and individual personalities, and give them space to be who they are while refining how they represent themselves to others.  It is a work that takes faith, patience, and divine guidance in order to accomplish without selfishly using who they are to magnify who we are.

In a nutshell- we must love our daughters by applying consistent correction to them.  Holding them accountable to a standard may not be popular- and I can remember disliking my mother many a day- but the fruit of such discipline can't be even be measured.  I had the wonderful experience today of hearing one my DIVAS actually admit to the wrong she had done... the process of thought she employed led her to the conclusion that she was ultimately to blame.  Priceless... and a mark of maturity at an age where everything is someone else's fault.  The greatest thing is that I didn't have to fuss... all I had to do was listen. She took ownership of the standard, and I was extremely glad.

I am not attempting to sugar coat the downright anger that is sometimes beneath the surface of our personalities- it won't be denied, bubbling up and causing events that would otherwise be uncharacteristic.  However, we cannot be afraid of the potential meanness and uglyness; we can't be afraid of the attitudes, the poppin' and lockin' and sheer power struggles that may come.  We have to look beyond them and see their future... that is the only we we can keep from getting emotionally offended.  In us is the power to equip our young ladies to "be 'bout somethin'..."  Blessings!CH