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The Mochacademy Enrichment Program end of the year Fashion Show and Awards Ceremony

MocacademyBy Marla A. Matime

On Sunday, June 4, Mochacademy, hosted their first ever awards ceremony and fashion show at the Mt. Rubidoux SDA church in Riverside, where girls from grades 6th to 10th took the stage to showcase their gifts and talents through song, sewing, painting and other exciting and engaging activities that they had the opportunity to learn throughout the first year of the programs conception.  

I had the privilege of talking with Toni Collins-Percivale, whose two daughters were mentees in the first ever program.  I asked her how did she hear about Mochacademy and she lovingly expressed that she heard about it through co-founder Marjean (MJ) Sterling.  Her main reason for allowing her daughters to partake in the program was because she shared and understood the same philosophy as MJ, in that it takes a village to raise our children. 

Since the beginning of this recent school year, Toni noticed that because of Mochacademy her daughters began to take pride in their grooming habits, their promptness to engagement, and the willingness to speak positively over their selves without pressure from their mother.  A few things that Toni would like to see more of for Mochacademy in the future would be the continuation of mentorship and self-awareness and additional funding, fundraisers to help assist with more cultural and engaging events to expose the girls to more positive things going on in our world today. 

I also had the opportunity to speak with a first-time visitor who was invited by a presenter throughout the year by the name of Sharmaine Campbell.  She brought her daughter to the event to check it out and is considering signing her up for the program to help her break out of her shell of shyness.  She believes that a program like Mocacademy is much needed in our community.

I had the honor of asking Shayla Moore and Marjean (MJ) Sterling, founders of Mochacademy, a few questions, for them to share the thought process behind starting the organization and what they could take away from their first full year.

If I remember correctly, conversations regarding starting this program began in April of last year.  What was the initial thought process of why you wanted to put this program together?

MJ- I’d have to say that conversations about starting this program actually ended in April of 2016. It was at that time that we realized that we could either talk about it or be about it, and we chose the latter. From that night on, we no longer talked about starting this program, we started it and all conversations shifted focus to what we would do within our program. We knew what we wanted to accomplish, and from there we birthed our “why”, after that it was only a matter of “how”.

Shayla – I believe it is necessary to pour into the woman of our future. It is important to provide positive images for our young community and let them know they can become anything they put their mind to. With so many negative images of African American woman we want to remind them that they are a child a God, heirs to the kingdom and should not settle for anything less.

Also, the decision was made to start the program last April but we have been speaking about this for years. We finally said we need to do it and ever since things have come together. This is how we knew it was meant to be.

What did the first year teach you about mentorship?

MJ – My first year with Mochacademy taught me that in order to be successful, I must be open-minded. Sometimes the “perfect” plan or idea still needs a few tweaks and adjustments from a second or third source. And just like all things in life I had to expect the unexpected! If we hadn’t been able to take things in stride, we would have felt defeated from the very beginning. Nothing went exactly as planned, but everything always worked out every single time.

Shayla – There is no guideline to follow. You must follow your heart and take the time to build bonds. Once a bond is made is when you can start to leave lasting impressions. These girls have made me a better person while I want to make an impression on them they have changed my life for the better as well. Mentoring is enriching to the mentor as well the mentee.

Did this first year end up looking how you envisioned?

MJ – Our vision was a sketch, and first year filled in the colors. The sketch was beautiful, admirable, and ambitious; but it paled in comparison to what was unveiled as we started adding the colors. The colors were the individual girls, their personalities, the bonds that were created, the lessons they learned, the conversations that were held, the songs that were made up on long trips, the smiles, the laughter, and even a few tears. Our first year exceeded our vision.

Shayla – No, it exceeded every expectation we had. God has truly blessed us with amazing people that made our dream a reality.

Have you done anything like this in past time?  Any mentorship programs or volunteer programs geared towards a similar purpose?

MJ – I’ve never been involved in or seen a program like ours, but in my youth I was a part of a mentoring program and I always knew that it was imperative that as I came into my own, I paid it forward and poured into the next generation.

Shayla – No, not formally. I have had mentors growing up that have made lasting impressions and I think it is necessary to do it for others.

What are you MOST proud of?

MJ – I’m most proud of the mentors. These ladies have given of themselves wanting nothing in return. Time is precious, and once you give it away there’s no getting it back. These ladies have been selfless with their time, skills, and resources. I’m most proud of the fact that they’re in my life and I can call them Friend. If I had to leave the program today, I know the girls would still be in excellent hands.

Shayla – That I have made an everlasting impression on eight amazing young ladies. I pray that I can continue to lead them to Christ and to a successful future.

For more information, please be sure to contact Mocacademy at Mochacademy.comMochacademy@gmail.com, or (951)777-9246.

You can also, find them on social media Facebook: Mochacademy Mentoring Program Instagram: Mochacademy

The meeting times will be held from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every third Sunday, beginning in September 2017 through May 2018

We accept applicants 6th grade to 10th grade the program goes up to 12th grade and are currently accepting mentor applications. Mentees should take advantage of the early bird registration as space is limited.  If you are currently unable to give of your time, but would like to know the areas in which we need donations, please contact them.

Time For Change Foundation Hosts Justice in July Jamboree

RIALTO, CA- The Time for Change Foundation in partnership with Senator Connie M. Leyva, Assembly member Eloise Gómez Reyes and Mayor Deborah Robertson of Rialto will host the Justice in July Jamboree (JJ-Jam) event at Rialto City Hall. The event’s purpose is to increase civic engagement by having the local community raise their issues and craft solutions in partnership with local and state officials. Additionally, tangible resources will be available on site along with music, dancing and free food.

State legislators and local elected officials need to understand the severity of the issues that plague our communities. Our families are unable to access affordable housing, adequate transportation and employment opportunities. To prioritize investment in our community, Justice in July Jamboree will bring community and statewide elected officials together to identify specific community issues, craft solutions and ascertain public funding resources necessary to address the issues. “The Justice Jamboree brings voices of change together with decision makers while using the power of the “voter” as a catalyst for change,” says Vanessa Perez, Assoc. Director of Time for Change Foundation.

We are so excited that Governor Jerry Brown has received a special invitation from our state legislators to attend our local event and further raise the awareness about the local needs for statewide resources.

Other local organizations collaborating in this effort include: Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy, COPE, United Nations of Consciousness, California Partnership, Center for Employment Opportunities, Option House, and ACLU – So Cal.

Residents can expect to access Voter Registration, Felony Removal, Rental and Utility Assistance, Free dental checkups, face painting, dance contest, fire trucks, and free food on this day.

The event will be held on Saturday, July 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rialto City Hall located at 150 S. Palm Avenue in Rialto.

Kappa Sigma donates money and toys to LLU Children’s Hospital 

LOMA LINDA, CA- Kappa Sigma Fraternity, located on the Cal State San Bernardino Campus, recently donated over $7,600 and toys to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH) through “penny wars,” a competition amongst the sororities on campus to support Vision 2020 – The Campaign for a Whole Tomorrow.

Six members from the fraternity stopped by LLUCH Tuesday, June 6 and presented a check and a variety of toys to Children’s Hospital staff and patients, Justin Correa, 9, of Bloomington and Tiffany Borrego, 9, of Lake Elsinore. 

“Our campus became involved in competing to see who could raise the most coins, and it was powerful to see everyone’s involvement,” said Danny Razo, philanthropy chair of Kappa Sigma. “Many of us have had personal experiences and family members who have been treated here.”

Giovanni Barreto and the fraternity’s executive committee shared their personal connections with the children’s hospital through siblings who were born and treated at LLUCH. They wanted staff and patients to know that their fraternity plans to make this an ongoing project.

“We have no plans on stopping now, we’re just getting started,” Barreto said.

Helen Staples-Evans, chief nursing officer of LLUCH, emphasized the difference the fraternity is making in building the new hospital tower as part of Vision 2020.

“You have raised money for children whose faces you’ve never seen, and they’ll go to kids who you will never meet,” Staples-Evans said to the fraternity, “but you make a difference, and for that we are very grateful.”

Joanna DeLeon, director of the LLUCH foundation said she felt inspired by the fraternity. “This is an amazing testament to how a community can work together to improve the lives of our smallest patients.”