Kids, Holidays, Celebrations, and Service!

Hi Everybody,

This week I went to Atlanta to speak at Kennesaw University about balancing your life through service and giving back. I must say that I love this topic and had a really enjoyable time speaking to the university students. What was really great though, the university had such a diverse student body. There were 50 year old freshmen, married couples, ex military, and your average aged college student, all mixed together. But this blog is not really on speaking topic, or the audience, but about one question that was asked of me: “How do you engage your children in service work?” Furthermore, “How do you help children understand that there are other children and adults in the world that are not as blessed as they are?” These two questions were a dream come true, because as a mother of 3 small children I am always asking myself the same question and trying to encompass what I know into their lives. I want my children to understand that they MUST lead a life of service, whatever shape or form that it takes for their own individual lives. In this blog, I will share some of my ideas, especially ones that fall around the holidays and birthdays.

A True Journey: The Ambassadors Graduate!

Hi all!

After my last blog, I said I would next blog on urban gardening, but instead I feel the need to share details of a recent memorable evening.

A little less than two weeks ago, we hosted our inaugural Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service graduation celebration.  As our amazing Journey for Change Ambassadors completed a year of service, advocacy, and educational activities, the entire Angelrock Project team wanted to make sure they were able to celebrate this accomplishment with their families and know how proud we were of each and every participant.  It was also an opportunity to invite them to become a part of The Journey for Change Alumni club.

Books and The Wild, Wild West!

Hi everyone,

It is been some time since I last blogged, but it has been a remarkable and busy last couple of weeks.  So this blog will cover what I have been up to unlike my other blogs which are based on one topic.   

First of all, I was ecstatic to debut the cover of my upcoming book, If It Takes a Village, Build One on The Angelrock Project homepage.  The publishers at Broadway Books did a beautiful job creating the image and I’m so proud to be surrounded by some of my Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service Ambassadors.  All of the Ambassadors will be featured in a picture inside.  The book is currently available online to pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Powells, IndieBound, and Random House, and will be released on April 6, 2010.  Please consider pre-ordering the book and telling your friends.  Just FYI – the pre-order purchases go towards the first week’s sales. Why is this important?  Because we want books on “service and volunteerism” to be a hit so more publishers will consider releasing these viable books in our incredibly competitive book market.  Please click here to pre-order from a retailer of your choice.   

Now, moving on to my next adventure...

Washing Cars, Changing Lives, $7 Bucks at a Time

Hey all.  I am happy to report that the Journey for Change Ambassadors have done it again!  A little over one week ago, on Saturday, August 1, our group came together to hold the second annual Journey for Change Bushwick car wash and raised over $1300!  As usual, they charged $7 per car.  I am so proud of our entire Journey for Change Ambassadors, the parents who came out to support us, and The Salvation Army staff.  And of course, we thank the Bushwick community for supporting us. 

The New Faces of Hunger in America

hun⋅ger –noun

1) a compelling need or desire for food.  2) the painful sensation or state of weakness caused by the need of food: to collapse from hunger.  3) a shortage of food; famine.

While many people tend to think of hunger as a distant problem, only in underdeveloped countries, the reality is that 36 million Americans struggle daily against hunger.  Though sufferers may not be to the point of starvation, millions are undernourished and in turn face serious health risks.  While people often say “hungry kids live in Africa,” while this may be true, what they really should be saying is “there are hungry men, women, children, and elders down the street in your neighborhood in the U.S.A.,” as these are the new faces of hunger.


400,000. That is the number of men, women, and children who have been killed in Darfur since the eruption of conflict in 2003.  On top of that, over 2.6 million people have been displaced from their homes and live in refugee or International Displaced Person camps.  Even with those numbers, it is impossible to count the number of violent attacks and rapes that have occurred in the region.  The genocide in Darfur has been called one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes, and it is still on-going today.  

Our 30 Extraordinary Journey For Change Global Ambassadors

As many of you know, the premiere of Black in America 2 aired Wednesday night on CNN, with a continuation last night with just as many compelling stories as were aired the first night. As one whose segment, Journey for Change, was part of the premiere episode, I could not have been happier. I felt that Soledad O’Brien and her producer Michelle Rozsa did a beautiful job capturing the highlights of the Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service program. But of course, with any television show, you cannot tell the full story of a year of service in just 40 minutes. CNN, as excellent documentary producers, had to focus on 3 children to delve deep into their back stories so that the viewers could understand the transformation they went through. But because the cameras stopped rolling 6 months ago, you did not have a chance to see many great achievements and challenges that the trio went through.   And because of these choices, the viewers didn’t have the pleasure of really meeting the other 27 phenomenal Journey for Change Ambassadors. As a mother figure to these children, whom I love so very much, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that every other child is just as special, has moved me just as much, and is just as incredible as the three ambassadors who you were able to meet in the documentary – Jeremy, Jonathan, and Latoya. 

Raise a ruckus, make a difference

In the words of my mentor and America's foremost child advocate Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of The Children's Defense Fund, it's time to "raise a ruckus people, it is time to raise a ruckus!"
CNN's "Black in America" raised many critical issues facing African-American people in this great country of ours. It was not pretty, it was not flattering, but it was very, very frank. The show delved into the negative issues that have plagued the African-American community for generations, i.e., crime, education, single parent families, drug abuse and the like.
People got mad. People sent many e-mails and letters to Soledad O'Brien and CNN and cried foul. People said "Black in America" was not consistent with the lives of many African-American people and was one-sided. Blogs and Web sites popped up all over the place where people "raised a ruckus" about the content of the show.

"Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness..." - John Ruskin

As some of you know, I recently traveled to my beloved Johannesburg, South Africa at the end of June.  I tend to go now every 3-4 months.  For this trip, I had two main reasons for my visit.  Firstly, I wanted to check on my projects in the shanty town community of Diepsloot and in Soweto and secondly, I had set up several meeting with influential leaders in the U.S. government, at several NGO's, and at foundations in hopes of establishing new and keeping past partners for Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service 2.   I was also finalizing paperwork to open a South African trust so that I can begin to fundraise in the country itself.   

Celebrity Culture for a Cause

As we all know we live in such a celebrity world right now.  I do not know when the change happened, but once it did, it just seems like Americans are obsessed with knowing every detail of a celebrity’s life.  And then people become celebrities for no reason whatsoever, a.k.a, “Octomom” and Paris Hilton.  Furthermore, some celebrities choose to do press for any and all reasons that have nothing to do with their trade or a project – just to have their name out there for no good reason.  Many of you know that I used to be an entertainment publicist, but when I was in the business, it was not like it is now.  And thank God, because I would not have lasted as long as I did.  I just cannot stomach knowing everyone’s business or seeing all of these scantily clad young girls running around being famous because of reality shows.  And now we have scantily clad 40 and 50 year old housewives (Mothers at that! My God) doing the same thing.