Archive for April, 2012

Beautifully and Wonderfully Made

Posted: April 18, 2012 by ERCPCP Blogger in Uncategorized

On Saturday, March 24, 2012, hundreds of women and girls from the DC area and beyond came together for the return of ERCPCP’s beloved “Girl Talk” Conference!  This event, annually held in March to honor Women’s History Month, was an empowering day of fellowship, dialogue, sisterhood, coaching, prizes and more.  There were more than 350 people in attendance to include mentors, volunteers, students, exhibitors, speakers, entertainers, ERCPCP staff, etc. all there for the sole purpose of supporting, teaching and learning from one another.  The atmosphere at the Academies at Anacostia was phenomenal as speakers from various walks of life took the floor to give attendees their interpretation of what it means to be Beautifully and Wonderfully Made: Mind, Body and Soul. 

As always, the day’s events began with an opening ceremony, a pep rally of sorts, where participants were treated to a warm welcome from Ms. Jhae’ Ali, Motivational Speaker and Afterschool Coordinator  at Anacostia HS.  Jhae’s message of focusing on “who you want to be” over focusing on “what you want to be” really set the tone for the day!  She was followed by Communications specialist and former “Girl Talk” participant Sharece Crawford who encouraged the participants to “be hungry” for all of the knowledge and resources that the conference would have to offer, from the mentorship to the workshop presentations, and discussed the personal impact that mentor and conference coordinator D’Sheka Perkins has had on her life. 

Further, the captivated audience heard from US Army Command Sargeant Major Tracey Anbiya who engaged the audience in a little call and response then shared a touching story about a woman who was running a race and continued to fall.  While she was motivated to get up and continue the first couple of times, the feeling of shame and disappointment almost prevented her from pressing forward thereafter.  CSM Anbiya noted that as in most of our daily lives, the easy thing would have been for the woman to give up, but due to the encouragement of those around her, she pressed forward though she had no chance of winning at this point.  When the runner crossed the finish line, she was stunned to find that the crowd greeted her with an even bigger cheer and applause than that which was given to the winner because, they were so proud of her for hanging in there and finishing the race in spite of her many falls along the way.  Mrs. Anbiya closed by encouraging ladies to “never give up” in spite of the challenges faced on their journey, noting that these challenges help you to become beautifully and wonderfully made.

Other highlights of the opening ceremony included the lyrical stylings of Princess Best (Princess of Controversy), a liturgical dance by the youth dance ministry of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden and the powerful remarks of ERCPCP’s Executive Director, Rev. Donald Isaac, who moved the crowd to their feet by acknowledging the various conference contributors, including “the one who did the most work of all”… God!  The mood was set as “Girl Talk” Mentor Coordinator, Deborah Stevenson, took the floor to conduct one of the most anticipated events of the morning, the mentor/mentee meet and greet!

Motivated and excited about what was in store, mentors and mentees alike departed the opening ceremony and set off to enjoy a number of workshops, as well as the exhibit hall, which were all customized just for them.  Youth workshops touched on topics such as self love, media influences, domestic violence, sexual promiscuity, self esteem and financial literacy, while mentor workshops dealt with relationship building skills and empowered mentors to overcome personal challenges in order to become effective mentors.  All workshops were designed to help women of all ages and backgrounds to overcome their unique challenges and to use them as stepping stones as they work to reach the next level. 

During the workshop Perfect Illusions: The Media’s Influence led by Goldie Deane of Females Representing Every Side of Hip-Hop (F.R.E.S.H.H. Inc) participants learned about Self-Identification as Goldie encouraged participants “to decide to be something outside of the boxes” established by mainstream media and society.  Part 2 of this workshop was presented by Rashida McKenzie of Sisciety, Inc. who also taught participants to decipher the messages portrayed in the media.  Worth the Wait workshop presenter DeShuna Spencer opened up about her personal journey of overcoming sexual promiscuity and encouraged girls to truly value their bodies.  This is just a glimpse into the youth workshops conducted by our incredible lineup of presenters who include: Jamedra Aikens of Royal Proteges, Inc. (Miss Independent), Queen Afi Gaston of Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags (Through the Fire), Tina Fletcher of Dream Girls DMV (Beautiful Me) and Sadé Nicholson of Creatrix Christian Enterprises who traveled all the way from North Carolina to present the Real Love workshop where each participant was provided with her own handheld mirror and customizable puzzle to teach about agape love. 

Mentors were also treated to two incredible workshops seeking to help them improve their relationship building skills with mentees.  The first, “Real Love: Who Am I? My Testimony, My Triumph” presented by Barbara Holt Streeter of the PR and Protocol Group, focused on helping mentors to overcome self issues so that they could become more effective with their mentees.  To compliment this workshop focused on self-evaluation, mentors also experienced “Real Love: I Am My Sister’s Keeper” presented by Dr. Lisa Fiddermon of Trinity Light Ministries which sought to teach the principles of sisterhood. 

In addition to the workshops, all participants were able to enjoy a wonderfully crafted exhibit hall filled with youth/female friendly vendors and resource providers ranging from high school sororities and HIV/Aids Awareness organizations to makers of women’s fashion and hand crafted jewelry.

Following a deliciously catered lunch, the afternoon proved to be as exciting as the morning session when attendees reconvened in the gymnasium to hear a keynote presentation by Dr. Tiffani Bailey Lash and Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Owners and Co-Founders of Tea and Honey Blends Hair Care and the Brilliant and Beautiful Foundation.  Drs. Lash and Dubroy, spoke to participants about dreaming big, and pursuing their passion.  Dr. Dubroy shared stories about growing up in Jamaica, spending countless days in her mother’s hair shop watching her mom style hair and concoct her own homemade hair conditioner and Dr. Lash recounted her adolescence, growing up in North Carolina, filled with a long standing passion to own her own hair shop.  The two women, having taken very different paths through undergrad, met while pursuing their doctoral degrees in chemistry from the University of North Carolina.  Upon becoming good friends, Tiffani and Tashni discussed their dreams with one another and eventually decided to go into business together.  Tea and Honey Blends, a dream realized for both women, is the product of that collaboration. 

Each girl was encouraged to strive to go as far as she could with her education.  “Work to get your PhD”, directed Dr. Dubroy as she and Dr. Lash challenged girls to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and to place significant value on higher education.  They also encouraged youth to begin using social media for business and personal advancement as opposed to allowing it to be a distraction or time wasting mechanism.  Finally, in driving the point home, participants were invited to tweet “I am brilliant and beautiful Dr. (insert name here)” to @THBhaircare affirming that they are “dedicated to becoming an educated entrepreneur.” 

Following the keynote presentation, attendees had the pleasure of hearing a few selections by R&B/Soul singer YahZarah whose amazing voice was the perfect end to a beautiful day!  As participants departed, they were eager and excited to share their thoughts with us.  One woman commented, “next year this needs to take place at the convention center.”  One youth noted that she had to get up so early and was hesitant at first, but was so glad that she had come because she had a great time and was grateful for the opportunity to attend.  The feedback continued to come in the weeks to follow.  

We were extremely pleased with the turnout and return of our signature “Girl Talk” Conference!  It is hard to put into words the gratitude that we feel for the countless men and women that traveled from places near and far to help make “Girl Talk” 2012 a success!  From the reigning Ms. Chesterfield, who traveled from Chesterfield, VA to serve as a mentor, to the Ms. Nicholson and singer YahZarah who brought their gifts up Interstate 95, from the state of North Carolina to share with our young ladies.  We can’t neglect to acknowledge the amazing staff at Anacostia Senior High School as well as all the amazing women of all ages who gave of their time to serve as mentors, speakers and volunteers.  Thank you so much!  ERCPCP looks forward to working with all of our new found partners to continue to enhance the conference in the future.  Thanks to everyone who helped to make this day a great day!

Stay tuned for details on the return of our signature Man2Man Conference for young men. 

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Ready to Achieve Mentoring

Posted: April 18, 2012 by ERCPCP Blogger in Uncategorized

The Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP)TM is a high-tech, career-focused mentoring program for youth involved with or at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system.  RAMPTM is an evidence-based nationwide model, which promotes healthy community relationships, by connecting youth to active community members, employers, educators and training programs.  DC RAMPTM held its kick off on February 15, 2012, enrolling 18 youth between the ages of 14-17 from New Beginnings.  Youth in levels 1-3, who are 18 and under, with at least one year left on their commitment were chosen to participate in weekly career-preparation focused group meetings, peer supported goal setting and one-to-one mentoring.

The first mentor training was held on March 19th; with mentors from Children, Children, Children, the Alliance of Concerned Men, Just Understanding My Priorities (J.U.M.P), Life Deeds and the Young Male Achievement Program (Y-Map) present. Once trained, this enthusiastic group immediately joined the weekly sessions on Friday, March 23, 2012; working with youth to develop and implement Individualized Mentoring Plans (IMP), which provide detailed information on each youth’s goals and plan for the future. These extended support systems that are created through the relationships RAMPTM facilitates, propel participants onto the career paths they desire. The impact this program has on its participants is evident early on, as one youth’s comment just six weeks into mentoring explained, “RAMPTM is helping me learn more about becoming an auto-mechanic. It also helped me choose to stay away from negativity, and get to my next level [in the DC Model]”.

Listed below are some of the areas youth will focus on in RAMP during their time at New Beginnings:

  • Workplace soft skills
  • Building resume-writing and interviewing skills
  • Taking advantage of group and personal leadership opportunities
  • Assessment and exploration of their career interest
  • Developing a plan and setting goals for their transition
  • Creating a resource map of their community’s high-tech industries
  • Designing and building a high-tech-related team project
  • Interacting with employers and experiencing a variety of work settings

By Jasmine Barber

Rebuilding the Clergy Response Team

Posted: April 18, 2012 by ERCPCP Blogger in Uncategorized

The East of the River Clergy Police Community Partnership (ERCPCP) is in the process of rebuilding and rejuvenating its Clergy Response Team (CRT).  This team consists of members of community organizations and clergy and members from area churches and faith-based organizations.  Its original mission was to assist those that have been affected by crime by responding to scenes of serious traumatic incidents including shootings.  The mission also includes providing referral service to victims’ family members for critical crisis intervention and counseling.

During the most recent past years, in the spirit of cooperation, CRT began working with another group and adjusted its mission. This change, however, resulted in a reduction in the number of CRT volunteers.  Well, God has now directed the CRT back to its original mission and vision, thus resulting in its rebuilding.  The rebuilding team meets every 3rd Saturday of the month.  The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM at ERCPCP’s main office.  We have also planned an official kick-off for the newly rebuilt team which is scheduled for Saturday, May 26th.   If you want to join this team and help rebuild this critical community initiative, please call 202-373-5767.

We welcome you to join us!

By Lucy Hall

“A MAN ON A MISSION”

Posted: April 12, 2012 by ERCPCP Blogger in Uncategorized

From the time that Mr. Smith entered the program he hit the ground running.  We often called him running man!  He said that he believed that it was time for him to make a change and he did not have a lot of time to waste.  So from that day until now, Ronald Smith has been running to catch up with his life.

For the past several years, Mr. Smith has been in and out of jail.  His son has grown up and he has to catch up after spending a lot of time growing up in jail.  Now, time has marched on and he knows that it is his time to make a difference in the world.  Upon entering our transitional housing program, Mr. Smith first got a part time job making about $8.00 an hour.    To some people, this may have felt like a waste of time, but Ronald said that this was an opportunity and a blessing, so he took the job, and worked as often as he was called to come to work.  His work week generally consisted of only about three days of work per week, but he kept on pushing.  Ronald saved the money that he earned in this position and continued to look for more work and other opportunities.

Next, Mr. Smith began to work on obtaining his GED with the understanding that this was an important step which would open up new and better opportunities.  With that, he began to attend classes twice a week and work three times a week.   He was beginning to run even harder to make that important change in his life.    As Ronald nears the end of his tenure with us, he is now working two part time jobs.   The first with a management company and his newly acquired job with Metro, working on the rails at more than $20.00 an hour.  Equally as important, Ronald has just celebrated one year of being clean and sober!  With this new accomplishment to add to his growing list of achievements, including:  six months of transition, consistent employment, working toward his GED, building a savings,  and acceptance into an Oxford house, Mr. Smith has demonstrated that he is indeed a man on a mission.

We are so proud of all that Ronald has been able to accomplish while enrolled in our program.  He is a shining example of success and determination and we have every confidence that he will continue to work hard to make a change and a difference in his life and the world.  As Ronald prepares to leave our program and take that next step, we wish him all the best and want him to know that he will be taking our love and prayers with him!

By Rev. Deborah Thomas-Campbell

DC Youth Link Career Fair

Posted: April 12, 2012 by ERCPCP Blogger in Uncategorized

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On Wednesday, February 22nd DC Youth Link packed out the Recital Hall of THEARC!

DC Youth Link Region 1 & 2 (East of the River Clergy Police Community Partnership & Progressive Life Center) partnered to host our first career fair for youth in our Department of Labor Workforce Development Program. Also known as the ‘Developing Young Professionals Program’, it helps young men and women ages 18-21 to achieve positive outcomes in employment, education, occupational skills training, certification programs and the military.

More than 40 youth came out to the fair and each walked away with a backpack containing valuable items for their professional development, and more than this, a message of hope from our guest speaker, Ms. Jewell Elliott. The founder of the Living Well Institute and a practicing attorney, Ms. Elliott empowered youth through her inspiring message of hope, perseverance and purpose as seen in the life story of Frederick Douglass.  Finally, she challenged youth to discover who they are and to leave their mark in this world.

15 vendors representing various types of employment, educational and training opportunities truly made the event a success!  In the area of education, participants included: GED Programs (Anacostia Outreach Center & STRIVE DC);  post-secondary institutions (University of the District of Columbia); training and certification programs (City Year DC, CWK Construction, DC Fire and EMS Training Academy, Department of Employment Services (DOES) Office of Youth Programs, Potomac Job Corps and Southwest Collaborative); employment opportunities (Community Pools Inc., Exit Realty, Legal Shield and Washington Humane Society); and community resources (DC Youth Link).

The career fair was the first event of its kind in the program’s 2 year history, and it was a great turn out!

Here’s some of the feedback from attendees, vendors and staff:

  • “There were a lot of good opportunities”-Youth
  • “I obtained lots of information”-Youth
  • “This event was good for DYRS kids”-Youth
  • “This career fair was amazing!…One of the best yet!…I have honestly benefitted from today’s program” –Youth
  • “This was an awesome job fair! Things were great! I was blessed to be a part of this event! Let’s get more young people involved and exposed to this info!”-Vendor
  • “Excellent space and location!”- Vendor
  • “The energy was great! The young people seemed genuinely interested in the organizations and their future”- Vendor
  • “Great opportunity geared toward meeting youth where they are”-Vendor
  • “I was glad to be part of this effort for our youth”-Workforce Development Specialist

 For more information about some of the participants you can visit their websites:

Guest Speaker:  www.thelivingwellinstitute.org
THEARC: www.thearcdc.org

Vendors:

www.anacostiaoutreach.org
www.udc.edu
www.communitypools.com
www.fems.dc.gov
www.dcfd.com
www.youthjobs.dc.gov
www.legalshield.com
www.potomac.jobcorps.gov
www.Sw-dc.org
www.strivedc.org
www.udc.edu
www.washhumane.org