1st Annual Kick Back Against Bullying Sneaker Drive
October 3, 2017

The Mayor of NYC Bill Blasio awarded the #iSmileForAngele campaign efforts in the 1st Annual Kick Back Against Bullying Sneaker Drive during Suicide Prevention Month.

Hiiii splashy readers this weekend was nothing short of AMAZING! On Saturday September 30th at Bakery HNY sneaker store [1457 Amsterdam Avenue] the #iSmileForAngele 1st Annual Kick Back Against Bullying Sneaker Drive was held. The mission of the event was to service children within our communities and school system who maybe homeless or living in shelters by providing new or gently used sneakers as we fight to prevent bullying. The reassurance of confidence starts within our children knowing they are important and valued.

Bakery HNY

Donated kicks

Donated kicks

I am excited to type 325 sneakers were allocated to 3 shelters in Harlem. Upon delivering the donated sneakers I learned that many families were displaced due to a huge fire over the weekend. That made me feel good knowing that families will benefit from all of the contributions. The day was filled with laughs, support and most of all love. I grew up in Harlem and my mother has always instilled that helping others in need is a blessing as you are so fortunate in life. Every donated sneaker was accompanied with an inspirational note to reassurance the recipient that you are worthy and you will rise from your present circumstance.

My support system entrepreneurs Gracie and Latoya.

Everyone came together from a simple idea that was executed by teamwork. I am still in awe and glad that I can be of assistance in any way possible. If you have a goal, write it down, build a team and DO IT! I could not have completed my mission without the help of Gracie Cedres, Latoya Wyman, Kathleen Delva and Cheo owner of Bakery HNY; they all were key component parts alongside every single person who donated their new/gently used sneakers and new socks!

Cheo and Kathleen posing in Bakery HNY sneaker store with some of the donated kicks from the event.

It was a great day at the start of the event it drizzled a little bit however, the love of giving back outweighed the rain with sunshine. The day was beautiful as kid’s joined and learned the importance of helping others in need. Papa John’s pizza was sponsored by Indie Brokers and it was nice to see children interacting with adults playing charades. 

Overall, the event was a success and it just goes to show how a simple idea can take off with support from your community. The donations will allievate parents, bring smiles to children’s face and make the donators feel impactful that their contribution helped. I will continue to team up with other driven entrepreneurs to ensure we do our part in seeing that their is change with gestures, education and fun in the community.

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“RELEASED” a hit new docu-series to be debuted on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
September 30, 2017

Consulting Producer and Author Shaka Senghor

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being an honorary guest at the dynamic press lunch accompanied by a very deep and necessary roundtable discussion. The group dissussion surrounded multiple branches of incarceration within families and it featured the consulting producer of “Released” Mr. Shaka Senghor. 

“Released” is a new docu-series that adds a journey filled with emotion, a glimpse into the interaction and readjustment back into society after being incarcerated. In episode one we are introduced to Kevin, Jermaine and Kay as their stories are documented post release and they enter the next phase of transitional adjustment back into society; some serving over a decade of time. When one family member goes to prison it takes on a whole new territory for the family through conversation, explanation, financial and emotional hardship. No person is wrong for having the feelings they experience as we are not in that persons shoes to identify the hardship.

Rapper Mysonne joined to weigh in his views on the discussion

If you have not been incarcerated personally you are unaware of the tactics it took to survive inside, post traumatic stress uncuffed and the mentally physche of overwhelming feelings. You may have experienced the same emotions within your life perspective but from the key element of FREEDOM. Not having an outlet or the option to choose what and when you eat, enjoying simple pleasures at your own leisure or even interaction with others if you are in the hole will make you appreciate life in general. The struggle or the restriction is not comparable in either instance even though it does not make one’s feeling less valid because of a void that was not filled.

Shaka Senghor shared his story and why it was important to show this vantage point of being released is imperative. With staggering statistics as: 44% of Black Women have a family member in prison or 10,000 men and women are released every week, 4 to 10 return within 6 months and how the U.S. incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the world is alarming. 1 in 9 African Americans parents are in prison and drugs are along the top tier for the reasoning. 

RELEASED follows individuals who have completed longterm prison sentences during those first crucial 90 dayson the outside.  We’ll meet them as they walk out the  prison doors for the first time, and stay with them for  every step and misstep as they attempt to reconnect withtheir loved ones, establish their independence and beginthe long, hard work of starting over. 

As the docu-series continues to build around Kevin, Jermaine and Kay we will gain insight in how they transition from being restricted inside with no glimpse of society to entering a new world so to speak as it did not stop as they were away. 

  

I think society stigmatizes being released and there has not been an outlet to break the cycle of incarceration which tears families apart. Prison isn’t always the solution and in Kevin’s scenario he already had two strikes and went onto serve 19 years for stealing $160 worth of baby clothes and getting into a scuffle with a security guard. That sentence is harsh in comparison to a sentence of a murderer or not being able to get a job due to his priors and environment in which many opportunities aren’t rendered. Returning to familiar habits becomes the resolution to the common issue of being an outcast when returning to society. There is hope after prison, adversity and anything you consider struggling it all has to deal with your mentality and utilizing what you have access to but some are not as fortunate as others.

Shaka Senghor joined by Chanel Benjamin

Being placed back into society is similar to a baby learning how to walk after the crawling stages. How can you put something in the past that the world constantly remind you of with closed doors and limited opportunities? You literally walk out of one form of imprisonment to another form of restraint. Many are dehumanized in a way that allows people to say that’s unfair and unfortunate and make strides by utilizing our voice for change. The healing for children impacts their quality of life you can not rewind time and the importance of the new docu-series “Released” angles of family interaction, dealing with the outskirts of reality is depicted with raw emotion. The only emotion we are allowed to own is our anger from the notion of what is presented to us and what we see others have or just curiosity to how your life would have been in comparison to what is it. 

Courtesy of 135th Street Agency

Watch: Kevin Getting Stopped at Airport Security

https://owncomm.box.com/s/w5psexj6q1fcijs8qg1hpth5o126bkcd

Watch: Kay Describes How it Felt to Be Released

https://owncomm.box.com/s/cxw2bzq2xxvw0zkfclddo2bg7tl9b6lq

Be sure to watch RELEASED as it debuts on Saturday, September 30 at 10PM ET/PT on OWN. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #ReleasedOWN

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