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Girl Talk 3: Empowering 2 Excel

(left to right) Presenter Joyce Payne, SBVC President Dr. Gloria Fisher, Tammy Martin- Ryles, Hardy Brown II, and YWE President/CEO and SBCUSD Candidate Gwen Rodgers.

(left to right) Presenter Joyce Payne, SBVC President Dr. Gloria Fisher, Tammy Martin- Ryles, Hardy Brown II, and YWE President/CEO and SBCUSD Candidate Gwen Rodgers.

By Angela Coggs

On March 14, 2015, Young Women’s Empowerment Foundation hosted their 3rd Annual Girl Talk conference at San Bernardino Valley College. The conference opened for registration at 8am and provided a continental breakfast to the participants. The event, “Girl Talk 3: Empowering 2 Excel”, invited young women ages 12-21 to participate in the all-day educational, fun and motivational experience. The energetic moderator for the event was Courtnie Dowdy, a recent graduate of Pepperdine University. The event was built around the idea of imagining what can happen in the life of a young woman when she is empowered to succeed.

Attendees from the "STEMing Your Way To The Top" working on a project.

Attendees from the “STEMing Your Way To The Top” working on a project.

The event was kicked off by City of San Bernardino 3rd Ward Council Member John Valdivia and San Bernardino Valley College President Dr. Gloria Fisher. The attendees were also welcomed by some of their peers, recent crowned queens from the local area and schools: Miss Black San Bernardino 2015 Desiree Mckenzie, Miss Cardinal San Bernardino High School Monserrat Gutierrez, Miss Inland Empire Outstanding Teen Brielle Angelique, and Miss Black San Bernardino participants Bashirah Arogunddade and Janeice Midgett representing at Girl Talk 3 . Grand Terrace High School sophomore, Raihahan Medlock, performed a personal and touching spoken word that really resonated with the audience members.

Group pic of attendees in the main room before the workshops began.

Group pic of attendees in the main room before the workshops began.

In the main room, the participants viewed a video about human trafficking entitled, “Making of a Girl.” After viewing this very powerful video the participants were able to ask questions. Many of them did not realize how prevalent human trafficking is in general and in the Inland Empire. “I didn’t know this was going on in my neighborhood,” said one shocked sophomore from San Gorgonio High School. “It makes me wonder about my surroundings.”

Group shot of attendees.

Group shot of attendees.

There were four workshop sessions available and participants attended all via a rotating system. The workshops included Healthy Queens (hygiene related), Sister to Sister (boundaries), Knowing Me Before I Know You (self-love) and STEMing Your Way to the Top (encouraging females toward science, technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

Two topics of discussions that took place in a larger venue were Prom Promises and Sickle Cell Trait. Prom Promises was presented by Joyce Payne and it touched on what to expect and person safety with choosing whether to go with a date or in a group. Not only were the attendees inspired by the information given but the mother of the Inland Empire Outstanding Teen was very impressed. “She was great. I loved how she presented this information to the young ladies. It was absolutely wonderful.” The topic of Sickle Cell Traits was presented during a working lunch. Farron Dozier and his daughter Deja Dozier, a junior at Bloomington High School, spoke to participants about their own experience with the disease known as the Silent Killer, which primarily affects the African American population. His organization is called WHATZ DA COUNT and his campaign is called “What’z in your genes?” The purpose is to provide sickle cell trait awareness and to re-educate the community about the sickle cell trait and thalassemia trait. Not only was he diagnosed when he was a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army in 2006, later his daughter was also diagnosis with trait as well. The audience was quiet as they spoke but they asked a lot of questions afterwards. The topic was an important part of the day.

“As an advocate when sharing your message you really never know who’s listening and sometimes you don’t know if you’ve even been heard but what I believe in is the ripple effect. That somehow somewhere someone’s listening and your message is out there, I feel them in my purpose and I’m doing my passion. I’m out to educate the community about Sickle Cell Trait,” said Dozier.

(left to right)  SBVC President Dr. Gloria Fisher, Tammy Martin- Ryles, Hardy Brown II, and YWE President/CEO and SBCUSD Candidate Gwen Rodgers, City of San Bernardino 3rd Ward Council Member John Valdivia and Presenter Joyce Payne.

(left to right) SBVC President Dr. Gloria Fisher, Tammy Martin- Ryles, Hardy Brown II, and YWE President/CEO and SBCUSD Candidate Gwen Rodgers, City of San Bernardino 3rd Ward Council Member John Valdivia and Presenter Joyce Payne.

Dozier was especially touched by a comment by one of the participants of Girl Talk 3 with the username of angie_90h9 commented on his picture on Intagram, “Thank you to you and your daughter for speaking to us. I was unaware that sickle cell could be passed down like that until you spoke to us about it and I’m happy you did.” She concluded with by saying “I hope for the best for you and your daughter health wise and just in general. Take care.” Dozier’s response was a humbled; “Need I say more?” He reached at least one person that day and many more.

Mental Health Specialist with Young Visionaries Niki Chambers and Evangelist Beverly Broadus Green.

Mental Health Specialist with Young Visionaries Niki Chambers and Evangelist Beverly Broadus Green.

Another memorable guest who spoke with the parents who attended the event was Evangelist Beverly Broadus Green, mother of rapper Snoop Dogg. She shared her life story and how she had to learn to love herself before she could love someone else. She invited the mothers to take control of their own lives and to not go looking for a man but rather him come to you. She connected with the women in the room. She had attendees moved to tears with her story of triumph over major life struggles. Shanila Shabufta, vendor with the African American Mental Health Coalition, felt a connection with Green. “I can relate to what she said. She put herself out there. She talked about inner conflict, growing up in church and knowing what’s right and wrong but still having conflict to do the right thing. I think everyone has those moments,” she said. “I can definitely relate to her. I loved hearing her speak today.”

In addition to the workshops, the young women were treated to entertainment, opportunity drawings, poems by SBCUSD Vicki Lee and former SBCUSD student Chelsea Davis, and a step show by the San Gorgonio Steppers and members of University of California, Riverside chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc.

Young Women’s Empowerment Foundation’s CEO/President and San Bernardino City Unified School District Candidate was pleased with the turn out and stated “the event was a huge success.” Over a hundred girls in attendance and were surveyed throughout the day. The girls all indicated that they were having a great time. Each girl also interacted in photo booth where they dressed up and had fun. All pictures are posted on Young Women’s Empowerment Foundation Facebook.

YWE serves to strengthen the character of young women of high school age in the San Bernardino City region of the Inland Empire in Southern California. The mission of our program is to empower these young women to achieve at their highest potential, particularly in education, and to instill in them a commitment to return to their community as leaders and mentors.

The Unforgettable Nat King Cole

By Billy Gee

I believe Nat King Cole was one of my first and most significant influences.  His silky smooth, mellifluous voice was something I emulated–consciously or unconsciously (And so did Ray Charles, early on!)
“Route 66″ has always been one of my very favorite songs by Nat, but oddly, it was the Manhattan Transfer version of this hit that prompted me to sit down with a road map and learn whether or not there even was a “Route 66,” and if so, did it actually go through a town called Joplin, Missouri, or one called Gallup, New Mexico.   Thanks for the geography lesson, Nat!  (Actually, the song was composed by a jazz piano player named Bobby Troup)
Next came “Nature Boy,” composed by a rather nature boy-looking cat whose name was Eden Abez.  ‘Story goes that Nat was working at the Lincoln Theater in Los Angeles in 1947, when Abez tried unsuccessfully to give the song to Nat.  Maybe because of his appearance Nat didn’t take the guy seriously.  Undaunted, he gave a copy of the song instead to Nat’s valet, who in turn, passed it along to Nat.  And the rest is history.
Happy Birthday, Nat!  Thank you for your music.

5 Smart Spending Tips for Tax Refunds

Lynnette Khalfani Cox

Lynnette Khalfani Cox

By Cricket Wireless and Lynnette Khalfani Cox

Get the most value from your money this tax season

For savings-savvy consumers, tax season means getting creative with how to use your federal tax refund check.

The IRS says the average tax refund issued so far in 2015 tops $3,500. While it can be tempting to hit up the mall and blow through your money the second that big check arrives, smart spenders find ways to turn a refund into a “MeFund” through thrifty money-management decisions that keep cash in their pocket.

To help you become a better saver and a more prudent spender, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach® suggests five smart ways to stretch your refund check, making your money go further and enhancing your quality of life:

1) Invest in yourself

In today’s economy, it’s wise to invest in your education, your career and your health. Each will benefit you personally and professionally. Consider using some of your tax refund check to take a continuing education class or attend a business networking event. Similarly, invest in your health by signing up for a gym, taking yoga classes, or getting the aid of a personal trainer. A healthy body can boost creativity and productivity – and hopefully lower your long-term healthcare costs too.

2) Pay off debt

A recent study from the American Psychological Association showed money is a top cause of stress for Americans. To help rid yourself of money worries, reduce debt with your tax refund. Pay off a credit card bill, wipe out a lump sum on loans, or make an extra mortgage payment to help toward becoming debt free.

3) Spend wisely by taking advantage of seasonal promotions

If you are going to spend on something you want, do it the smart way. Take advantage of seasonal promotions in order to keep much of your refund in your pocket. For instance, if you’re in the market for a new phone, go to Cricket Wireless to receive free or discounted phones, all after mail-in rebate, such as the Nokia Lumia 635.  And, if you port your number to Cricket, you may also get a free month of service after completing two months on one of the provider’s Smart, Pro or Advanced plans. Check out more details atwww.cricketwireless.com.

4) Budget for larger purchases

If you’re thinking about spending your tax refund on a vacation or must-have electronics, be sure to first budget realistically. Remember, a vacation won’t just involve travel expenses and hotel accommodations. Be sure to factor in food, entertainment and miscellaneous costs such as tips, souvenirs and parking. Before using your refund on a big-ticket purchase, you should also use helpful budgeting tools to monitor your monthly spending. Mint.com is a good online and mobile budgeting software tool that can help you track your spending.

5) Create a “MeFund”

A final way to put your money to good use is to boost your savings. Create a “MeFund” as a way to save more every month – whether from a tax refund check, through smart budgeting or value found by switching to a no-contract wireless carrier like Cricket on a nationwide 4G LTE network – so you can spend more on the things that matter to you in the future. Whatever your goal, you’ll reach it a lot sooner if you save exclusively for it.

From investing in yourself to paying down debt and being a smarter spender and saver, let tax refund season be your time to get ahead. After all, by using that tax refund check wisely, you’ll set yourself up for financial prosperity in 2015 and beyond.