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First Ladies Combat Health Issues in Black Community with Ministries, Screenings, Events

By McKenzie Jackson/California Black Media

With March being Women’s History Month, California Black Media and Los Angeles Focus collaborated to feature the work of Los Angeles based first ladies that focus on health outreach ministries and their communities.

During a gathering, 13 preachers’ wives from predominately African-American

Los Angeles-area churches discussed fashion, what it means to be a church leader, and other topics pertaining to being the first lady. Many said it was important for them to have a leadership role in tackling health challenges that exist in their congregations because they want church goers to be free of ailments like cancer, diabetes, and mental health calamities.

Southern St. Paul Church First Lady Rinnata Thompson said church folks lift themselves spiritually, but sometimes forget to take care of their bodies

“The Bible says that our bodies are the temple of the God,” she said, “and that doesn’t mean just spiritually. That means if we are walking around tired, sick, may fall out with a stroke that we can’t give God our best because our body is not at its best.”

Regina Taylor, a first lady of Park Windsor Baptist Church, said helping congregation members lead healthier lifestyles begins with food choices. She said her church members are always eager to let her know about their dining decisions.

“They say, ‘First Lady, I have a salad’ or ‘First Lady I’m eating healthier,’” said Taylor, who established a health ministry at Park Windsor three years ago. “When different groups within the church have events, we try to serve healthy food.”

Unhealthy eating habits are one of the many wellness issues that plague the African-American community. CDC numbers reveal that Black Americans have a high propensity for obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and the American Heart Association says African-Americans are more at risk of being afflicted by heart disease or stroke than any other race.

In California, 6.9 percent of African-Americans do not have health insurance, per 2015 numbers from Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange. Also, as of last June, Blacks have the lowest enrollment numbers of any race in Medi-Cal or health plan coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

The leading church ladies at the L.A. Focus event said they combat health problems and the low amount of health coverage plaguing their pews with health ministry work.

Holman United Methodist Church First Lady Judi Wortham-Sauls said her church’s health ministry has a diabetes awareness group, exercise classes and organizes blood pressure and other screenings. A sodium awareness program began at the church on Monday. Wortham-Sauls also said she and her husband, Rev. Kelvin Sauls, try to lead by example.

“My husband and I are very serious about our own health,” she said. “We are both on weight reduction programs. Our own personal health awareness makes us want to bring it to the congregation.”

Faithful Central Bible Church First Lady Togetta Ulmer said she puts an emphasis on physical activity. She tells members to exercise at least 20 minutes a day and eat in moderation.  Ulmer said on May 20 she and Faithful Central members are going to bring workout mats to the church and instructors will teach them meditation, exercise, and healthy eating.

“Just because you are skinny doesn’t mean you are healthy,” Ulmer said.

Thompson, a co-chair of a first ladies health initiative in Los Angeles, organized a project on March 26, that focused on health professionals from various wellness groups on over 30 church campuses across Los Angeles. The vendors conducted vision screenings, HIV/AIDS screenings, dental checks and other health evaluations for church and community members.

“We just want to tie the spiritual and physical together,” she said. “These screening are free for those in the community.”

“The Historical” Weller Street Baptist Church First Lady Kera Tullos said one Sunday a special offering was held at her church to raise funds for breast cancer patient that needed to pay for a mammogram.

“I’m just trying to provide beneficial things to people,” the first lady said. “It means a lot because people’s lives matter.”

Since the Medicaid program (called “Medi-Cal” in California) expanded its eligibility criteria for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, more than 13 million low-income Californians have gained access to healthcare according to the California Budget & Policy Center.

Wortham-Sauls said access to healthcare is needed now more than ever in the Black community because African Americans historically not done what is needed to take care of themselves health-wise.

“So, now we need to get it correct,” she said. “Our struggle with diabetes and hypertension. We see people dropping dead on a regular basis. There is no reason to lose anybody if there is help out there.”

 

Leesa Renee Hall is Recognized as a Woman of Power and influence

In recognition of Women’s History Month, Black PR Wire and Women Grow strong have teamed up to honor and recognize women who have made a profound impact in the lives of hundreds of people on a local, statewide, national and even global level. This special feature edition of Power Profiler takes a closer look into the lives of these incredible women and champions for change.  This week’s feature profiler is author, futurist, technology pioneer and speaker, Leesa Renee Hall.

Ms. HallAuthor of seven books, including the critically-acclaimed “Podcasting for Profit,” Leesa Renee Hall is a thought leader known for jump starting movements, such as an association for Blacks working in technology, an “unconference” for podcasters, and the very first multi-speaker virtual event focused on social media tactics. Leesa is also the owner of My Virtual Hive, a digital marketing agency.

Upon graduating with a liberal arts degree in history in 1997, there weren’t many job opportunities available. Leesa read that her options were teaching, law, or curation. Instead of pursuing those careers, Leesa pursued a Masters degree in history, while supplementing her income by freelancing for magazines. It was during that time her dream of publishing a magazine had been ignited. Two weeks after teaching herself HTML, Leesa launched her first website, an online magazine featuring Canadian female amateur athletes. She did not realize that teaching herself HTML would unlock a nearly two decade career in technology.

Leesa’s innate curiosity has afforded her the opportunity to gain success in her field. “I’m naturally curious,” she says. “This curiosity has helped me build a business by interviewing other experts. I ask questions, uncover their unique story, and then leverage these expert interviews into a variety of other formats, such as books, podcasts, and blog posts.”

Leesa also credits her success to “living on her tippy toes.” She makes decisions quickly and takes fast action. She admits in doing so, she has made a few mistakes and stepped on a few toes, but has since realized that it was in her nature to move quickly, make decisions fast, and implement rapidly. “My personal motto is, it’s better to have tried and failed, than not to have tried at all,” says Leesa.

What inspires Leesa to press on is how history records her actions. She wants to be an active participant in the stories told about her in the future. “One hundred years ago, a woman who looked like me was not allowed to read or write, says Leesa.” “Her voice is lost because history can only guess what she was thinking, feeling, or sensing. I owe it to my ancestors and to all who have gone before me to record my actions, my thoughts, and my feelings in as many different formats as possible.”

A native of Toronto, ON, Leesa Renee Hall is an author, futurist, technology pioneer, and speaker. She is known for her ability to spot tech trends, ignore fads, and galvanize people around an innovative idea to ignite growth and inspire change. Leesa’s tech tips have been featured in American Express OPEN, Globe & Mail, Choice, The Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Profit, and Inc., along with television, radio and podcast appearances.

To connect with Leesa, and/or learn how to move fast on an innovative idea, visit leesareneehall.com/manifesto.

Jonathan Isaiah Rodgers, Dub as 2017 Sir Knight at the 50th Annual Beautillion Scholarship Ball

Jonatha I. Rodgers 2017 Sir KnightThe Social-Lites Inc., recently hosted their 50th Annual Beautillion Scholarship Ball on Saturday March 11, 2017, the event was very well attended at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino.

“Men of Tomorrow Pushing Forward” is the theme for the 2017 Beautillion Scholarship Program. The Beautillion Chairwoman Miss Lisa Blacksher stated, “On this 50th Anniversary of the Beautillion, the Class of 2017 will continue the tradition of becoming Great Leaders”.  Also working by her side was Beautillion co-chair Cynthia Wilhite.  The keynote speaker was Pastor Ollie Jackson Jr., past Sir Knight of 1968.   

Mr. Jonathan I. Rodgers, senor at Cajon High School earned a GPA of 4.24 was Dub as 2017 Sir Knight at the 50th Annual Beautillion Scholarship Ball. Mr. Rodgers was awarded and received various scholarships and gifts; he will be attending a College of his choice. Mr. Rodgers received a Mr. Congeniality award in the amount of $200, which was voted by his peers, he also received the first annual “ Evan T. Carthen Emerging Leader Scholarship Essay” award in the amount of $6,000.   He received an Academic Scholarship award in the amount of $1,000, a Beautillion Scholarship award in the amount of $5,000, and a Kappa Alpha Psi Scholarship award in the amount of $1,000. He also received various gifts such as a Mac Book Pro Laptop, Printer, Luggage, and a personal fitted Men Suit of his choice.

Mr. Steven Henderson was recognized as first runner up for the Sir Knight title and was awarded and received various Beautillion Scholarships awards and gifts, Mr. Akil Cooper was recognized as second runner up for the Sir Knight title and he received the first annual “Evan T. Carthen Emerging Leader Scholarship award in the amount of $700. He also received various Beautillion Scholarship awards and gifts. Mr. Christopher Fulton, Mr. Julian Houston, and Mr. Vonte Walker Sir Knight Candidates received various Beautillion Scholarship awards and gifts.

The Social-Lites Inc. wants to congratulate all the participants in the 2017 Beautillion Scholarship Program.