IYB Woman Crush | Woman Creates Safe Haven for Baltimore Kids

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In case you haven’t noticed, news outta B-more has gone from bad to worse this week with one of the cops, who had a hand in Freddie Gray’s murder, was cleared of charges. Yes, yet another one. Lost count? Good thing they are.

Unfortunately no one is keeping a tally on how this is affecting kids and their ability to…I don’t know…be like normal young’uns. Luckily Erika Alston carved out such a safe haven for 100 neighborhood kids between ages 5 to 17.

CBS Evening News reports Alston revamped an old laudromat into an after-school rec center– Penn North Kids Safe Zone, a few days after the riots sparked by Freddie Gray’s murder.

“The whole world got to see our children standing face-to-face with officers, and throwing rocks, and they didn’t have another outlet. We’ve created that outlet.”

The Kids Safe Zone includes homework help, peer support, field trips and a range of recreational activities–from Xbox video games to sports teams–for kids to escape.

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Funding for Safe Zone comes from the state (Maryland’s governor donated $50G’s for the computer lab) and private donations. The center got a big boost when Alicia Keys made a surprise visit in November. Soon after A&E Network donated $30,000, followed by $10,000 from Kaiser-Permenete.

Say it loud: More safe zones and less jail cells. To donate to Ericka’s Safe Zone click here.

 

IYB Woman Crush | Delivering Solutions to Homelessness

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Veronika Scott and an Empowerment Plan employee

Happy New Year!!

I’ll spare you the new year, new me mantra (insert eyeroll here) I espoused last year around this time. Or the laundry list of resolutions I’d likely break this week. I’ll approach 2016 with Nike philosophy–just do it. And encourage everyone else to do the same.

Before charging toward your goal like a Kardashian stalking a TMZ camera crew, take some notes on how it’s done from Veronika Scott. She’s the 24-year-old Founder and CEO (yaaaasss, honey!!) of Detroit-based non-profit The Empowerment Plan. The org hires homeless women as seamstresses to make coats that transform into sleeping bags for the homeless.

Veronika’s aha! moment came as a result of a college class assignment (she majored in Industrial Design at College for Creative Studies) to “design something to fill actual needs.” After visiting homeless shelters to gage their needs the slumber coats were born. During the day they serve as a normal winter coat and at night a flap is brought down and can be stepped into up to the knees, then zipped up like a regular ol’ sleeping bag.

The Motor City has a homeless population of 34,642, according to Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness. Overall there are over 86,000 people in Michigan without homes and 69 percent are single moms.

Veronika realized her slumber coats were a good start, but not the answer to preventing homelessness. When a woman living in the shelter told her to forfeit the outerwear for some much needed jobs.

Veronika did just that. The Empowerment Plan hires only people living in homeless shelters. And not just as seamstresses they are trained in manufacturing and tech as well. Whatever will help lead them closer to an independent life. The org has it sewed up.

” I believe people can tackle far more than they think they can.” Veronika says.

Thanks to Veronica and all those like her for making the path straighter.

Click here to donate and here to order a coat from the Empowerment Plan.

 

 

Ifyoublinked’s Woman Crush | A DJ Saves Lives, Literally

Quiana Parks doing her thing at DJ For A Cure movement.

Quiana Parks doing her thing at DJ For A Cure movement.

Quiana Parks wanted to do more than make you dance. The go-to DJ for ritzy brands like Puma, Dom Perignon and Tiffany & Co. used her spinning skills to save lives.

She created DJ For A Cure. An informational movement designed to educate those effected by cancer. In addition to passing along some dire statistics (i.e Approximately every 4 minutes one person in the US is diagnosed with blood cancer.) she’s inspiring those battling cancer with art.

This month, the spin master jumped on the ones and twos to host the 2nd annual DJ For A Cure live art and music show. The benefit raised money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Parks, a proud cancer survivor herself, said she aims to “raise awareness to the seriousness of cancer by highlighting the world of popular DJ culture infused with the element of art.”