The Power of Women; we lead, we save, we buy, we give birth, we vote , we elect, that's the power of women!
by Elaine Houston
Black Girls Rock!
As the 2016 Olympics in Rio come to a close it was a great Olympics for American women. U-S Women made their country proud with lots of hardware. According to NBC Olympics.com the U.S. won as many as 121 medals. Women won more medals than the men, as many as 70 and black women were instrumental in helping American women bring home the gold.
From shot put winner, Michelle Carter, to 100m freestyle Olympic gold medal swimming winner, Simone Manuel, to gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, to Allyson Felix, Tianna Bartoletta, English Gardner and Torie Bowie, the winners of the women's 4x 100, to Dalilah Muhummad who won gold in the women's 400m hurdles, to gymnast Simone Biles who won 4 gold medals to the winners of the and 4x400 relay race that includes Allyson Felix again along with Natasha Hastings, Phyllis Francis and Courtney Okolo, black women not only made their country proud but they were an inspiration for black American women.
Black American women revel in the accomplishments of other black women especially when they are too big to be ignored-when their talents and accomplishments can't be denied. That's because black American women often feel marginalized in their own country. It's a heartbreak they openly discuss among their black girlfriends because it happens to them all, all the time.
Because they can't discuss it when it happens on the job or when they're dismissed in the company of other women, or in everyday interactions with people who treat them as if they are invisible, they clinch their fists and raise their arms in celebration when their sisters go big for all the world to see.
It happens all the time, if not overtly, certainly through perceptions that wrongly insinuate black women are just not enough-that they don't bring enough to the table. What they bring to the table are college degrees, experience, ideas, yet they are still being judged by their culture.
Gabby Douglas is one example of that with all the complaints about the hair of the young woman who is the third best gymnast in the world. Instead of being admired for her accomplishments and her natural hair and or braids, cornrows or however she chooses to wear her hair, critics think her looks should define her. And then, there's the sterotype black women can never shake of being the angry black woman.
However, when black women stand on the largest athletic stage in the world and display their skills, talents and athleticism and they do it so well that they demonstrate they are the best, it does their country proud.
And, it should be a pride that translates into meaningful discussion back home about what black women are capabable of in America, as well as create more opportunities for black women. Black women have captivated the world in these Olympic games and their achievements have not been ignored by black women in America whom they've made very proud.
The SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
by Elaine Houston
Cindy Zakalik is living a sweet life. But, its not just because she has a great family. It's also because she works around chocolate all day. Her love for the smooth, creamy treat began as a child. “I always loved chocolate, she said. " Hershey bars were her favorite as a kid. You could say life was trying to tell her at a young age that she would have a future in sugar and cacao. After all, she played keyboard in an all-girl band called ‘Sweet Envy’. “We played house parties on Long Island from age 16 to 19, she said.”
Cindy however, would go on to get a degree in mathematics. She would eventually work for an insurance company but things weren’t adding up, she wasn’t happy. Kids would come later and she would start a photo sculpture business, that too didn’t satisfy. "I did not want to work twenty four seven, so we sold the business, she says.”
Then came a job as an account executive at AOL. She loved technology but working for someone else was not the future she envisioned for herself. “I said if I can make all this money for other companies why not work for myself, she laughs." So she looked for a way to combine the two things she did love, chocolate and technology. The result was Chocolate Promises, a Nassau County, NY online business. "I don’t make the chocolate, I buy the chocolate, she says.” Then, she does this artsy thing of drawing on the chocolate. "I have a chocolate printer with FDA approval, she said.” So, she can print your logo, your child’s full color picture, your group’s theme or create chocolate business cards, CD covers, coins-personalized chocolate with edible images. “Send the logo and I design it and then put it on chocolate, she says.”
Her list of customers reads like a who’s who list, from the NYPD, to UPS, to NYU. “I send to both individuals and businesses and they taste absolutely delicious, she says.” However, it is the smiles on her customers faces that seals the deal. “When they see it, they go crazy and the response I get is amazing and it is gratifying for me, she says.”
But, with all due respect to Forrest Gump, life or business isn’t like a box of chocolates. There’s been challenges. Her first year, 2012 she needed the help of her mother and daughter. Then, Hurricane Sandy hit and she couldn’t get her shipments of chocolate . Today, its all Belgian truffles, party favors, and chocolate hearts. Chocolate Promises is a certified women owned business enterprise. Cindy encourages other women with a desire to start a business to just get started. She says there are plenty of places to get help. "I would encourage her that there are places that help, SBA (Small Business Administration) and other organizations that will help you, she says.” Knowing all she knows about the ups and downs of business would she still start a business, “Absolutely, I would do it again, because I am happy, she says.”
For more info just click the link below.
by Natalie Joseph
SHE'S A BAG LADY
How many of you ever get tired of carrying around that same old unflattering tote you call a handbag? We'll you're in luck. You can have one handbag to take anywhere and use for all occassions. It's the Wallaby Bag-in-Bag. According to Amanda Simmons , Co-Manager of Charming Charlie in Albany, NY 'The Wallaby Bag-In-Bag tote can be worn five different ways. It features a matching pouch inside that doubles as a clutch, a functional crossbody strap and even has a secure slide through closure, she says." Before you say no because you think it must have a designer pricetag, it won't break the bank. This bag cost between $29.00-$39.00.
But, if you're the type of woman more into color coordinating your handbags with your outfits, then the Station Dome Satchel handbag is just for you. It comes in 12 different colors. ''It can fit your daily planner and even a tablet, says Simmons''. It is designed with vegan leather and has spacious side pouches. This bag cost $39.00, but is currently priced at $27.00. Another satchel is the Lady Lockbox. Simmons says it has just the right amount of bling and she says it's soft faux leather will go with just about anything. The cost is $39.00.
There are plenty of faux leather bags too. Jessica Simpson's Eliza Tote is a fashionable bag with the look of real leather. "The Jessica Simpson Eliza Tote is large enough to carry all the essentials you need says a representative for DSW at Albany, New York's Crossgates Mall. It cost $49.95 and it is detailed with gold tone hardware and color blocking detail. Then, there is the Aldo Afadolla tote. It comes in four colors, cost $39.95 and has a removable keychain. According to the DSW rep many celebrities are walking aaround with these name brand designer handbags.
S* T*A* R* S Ministry
The 12 Steps Spiritual Journey
Women's Bible Group
Meetings Every Thursday
6:00pm to 7:00pm
Capital South Campus Center (CSCC) Albany, NY
(518) 426-9423 20 Warren St.
Minister Shelia Jackson
*A support ministry of
Christ Church of Albany *381 Sheridan Ave. Albany, NY
by Elaine Houston
Some people get their parenting skills from their parents. But, what happens when you realize the people you thought were your parents are not? That was how life started out for Trina TiTi Ladette Cleveland. “I was raised by my paternal grandparents. I did not know my grandmother was not my mother, she said.”
In fact, she was 6 years old when she discovered her grandparents were keeping secrets. Her birth mom was the first secret. Secret two was that her mom had committed suicide. She was 13 when she learned that. Understandably these lies began to have a negative effect on her, but it was the one about her parentage that started her fall over the cliff. “It did have an impact but there was a lot going on, she says.” According to Trina, what was going on was that her siblings were being molested. She says she told her grandmother what her uncle was allegedly doing but no one stopped him.
So she says she started running away. “All of that set me on a path to really seek out dark places, she says.” She says a neighbor molested her with intravenous drugs at 13. “I didn’t get addicted right away but I never forgot that feeling, she said.” That feeling she discovered was a way of escape and she had a lot to escape. “There was prostitution, violence, dysfunctional relationships and I loss my kids 5 times to the state, she says.” She says she’d never been in trouble before but at 19 she went to jail over drugs. “ I took a ten year sentence for transporting drugs for a guy, a pimp. He said I wouldn’t get a case because of my age and for never being in trouble. He said they would let me out, she said." They did not. She got out just weeks before her 30th birthday.
But there would be more twists and turns to come. She had two kids before going to jail. “ When I got out I kept having babies. I got every hue of a child. I kept having babies, she said.” And her life soon became a vicious circle. Her drug charge was a felony so she couldn’t get a job or welfare and food stamps, which meant she had no resources to take care of her kids. She would relapse and start using drugs again and would lose custody of her kids again. “The relapses kept happening it was a Catch 22, she said. “
Her transparency about the gritty and painful world she grew up in on the streets of Austin, Texas has people across the world talking. They know about her heartaches, bad decisions, and heartbreaks because she is sharing it all in a video on social media.
Muncy State Correctional Institution is a Medium/Maximum security prison that houses female inmates. There are 76 buildings at the facility; 18 house inmates. This facility also houses all female death row inmates. There are approximately 1,450 inmates at the facility.
by Elaine Houston
23-year-old Hannah Miele never imagined she’d end up in prison yet there she was in March of 2016 inside a women’s prison in Muncy, Pennsylvania. The prison is home to more than 1,450 women however, Hannah was there by choice.
She was there to minister through art to murderers and those whose crimes were now costing them time behind bars.
“Instead of us performing for them we went and trained them in the arts, acting, singing, working together, she said.” She was part of the group Shining Light Ministries, they go into prisons to offer hope, joy and the gospel. “I wanted to spread love and light to those who have been forgotten and I thought it would be an amazing opportunity, she said.”
Hannah says the mission trip was amazing in ways she’s still processing.
“The talent was amazing, I was surprised at the talent, she said.” But some of the memories are heartbreaking. “There was a woman there she had already been there for 35 years and she was 69, she said.” The woman was serving life. Hannah says more than half the women will die behind bars. Yet they, the women, gave her a gift; they unwittingly got Hannah, a Christian to reexamine her faith.
“It deepened my walk with the Lord like never before. To see these women who’ve made terrible choices and are bound in this place, some of them forever, and they’ve accepted Christ’s forgiveness and they are choosing to walk in the love of God. If they can do this having committed murder and other crimes what is stopping you, she says.”
Hannah graduated from college with a degree in performing arts, performed in a professional opera company last summer and would love to travel the world performing but her faith has to be a pat of any career decision she makes. When she heard about Shining Light she knew it was a dream come true. “My faith is very important and this was a combination I was looking for music, art, singing, she said.”
And next month, she’s off to prison again as a member of the Shining Light Impact Tour. It is a group of 30 young adults from across the country. They are coming together to go into prisons across the east coast and minister through the arts. “We will travel to Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania, she said.”
But, she had to earn her spot not only through auditions but also by raising 1000.00 for hotels and food. Like many young people who want to be socially responsible but don’t have the funds she set up a Go Fund Me account and was pleasantly surprised.
“ I was brought to tears when I saw the response, she said.” The money was raised in less than a month. “I am not a lover of having to ask people for money but my parents said it’s an opportunity to allow someone to be a blessing through this and the money came in faster than I thought, she said.”
Hannah is choosing not to have preconceived ideas about her next stint in prison; the people she’ll meet, the impact her performing group will have on the prisoners, or vice versa but she’s open to her life being changed again by people others have written off. “I have found that today it’s like were all about change. We want to see change, we want to see revival you know, not just in Christianity, we want to see a move, something take place. But, I think the revival needs to start inside us first. We can’t lead someone to a place we haven’t gone first, she says.
For more information about Shining Light Ministries go to http://shining-light.com/our-story/