Last Saturday (February 17th) I had the great opportunity to host Inspiration For Tomorrow Inc's Teen Dating Violence Awareness Program (Recap). Inspiration For Tomorrow Inc is a Haitian-American nonprofit organization that focuses on domestic violence issues. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and the premise of Teen Dating Awareness Month is to educate the public about violenece with adolescents.
Judith Coulanges the President of Inspiration For Tomorrow's Inc created a welcoming and supportive environment for the attendees by dressing the Brockton Public Library in orange to symbolize solidary with the program's agenda. The Brockton Community Television camera man was there to tape the event to then air on television for those who couldn't make it in person to the event live. As the host I introduced myself as Author Vie Ciné. The author of MEMOIRS OF A FORGOTTEN CHILD. A blogger on www.vieisme.com. A vlogger on Author Vie Ciné Facebook Page and vieis_me Instagram Page. A women's empowerment advocate and sexual abuse survivor. Then after I introduced the foundation for Inspiration For Tomorrow Inc's history. Nancy Gaston, the Vice President of Inspiration For Tomorrow Inc took over the microphone to led the event into prayer.
After the prayer, I spoke about the importance of speaking about and ending Teen Dating Violence. Nothing gets people’s attention more than digestible statistics that hit home especially for Black Women and Black Girls. Watching the faces in the audience said it all. To honor those who died from domestic violence in Brockton in 2017 Judith played a video showing who they were and how they died. The first speakers to give light to Teen Dating Violence was Judith and Nancy. They shared their message on domestic violence and why it was personal for them.
The next guest speaker was Erykah Joseph who shared a fantastic poetry piece written about domestic violence from a vulnerable place. The crowd attentively watched Erykah speak her truth bravely. At the end of her performance everyone in attendance gave a clapping hand to show support.
Next, I lead a conversation and infomation session on domestic violence and teen dating. Reading off the signs was great but giving examples of every day commentary or attitudes that might go undisguised was even better. Not all violence is physical sometimes it can be verbal, emotional or psychological. The young ladies in the audience had their eyes glued to the stage processing the information as it was being given. At the end of the disucssion I felt compelled to let the young ladies know that they are remarkable on their own right and that they didn't need a male to validate who they are. This was a touchy topic for me because when I was their age I had experienced low self-esteem coupled with toxic relationships in past. I truly wanted to convey the message that being in a relationship didn't make them any more worthy than they already are. That if a male spoke or treated them in any way less than great than she didn't need to put up with him and that there are resources and places she could reach out to to get support. She will not be alone. Any abuse in the community is a problem for everyone in the community.
The following guest speaker was Fenner Gilles aka FEFE. FEFE was a charamatic speaker who spoke with empathy for victims of domestic violence. His approach was to give a friendly reminder that the community cares for domestic violence victims; because we care there are so many resources to support them. The only thing that the victims need to do is let us know.
The next speaker was Lovern Gordon. Lovern is a survivor of domestic violence who spoke last year at Judith's Domestic Violence event that I spoke at. Lovern shared parts of her survivorship with overcoming domestic violence and how the experience made her stronger. Lovern's domestic violence experience motivated her to start her own organization called Love Life Now Foundation, Inc to assist victims of domestic violence. To the ladies in the auidence and those who soon will be watching the broadcast on Brockton Community Television were getting gems from her with the resources she spoke like loveisrespect.org. It's a website where resources are available to help victims whether it's by text, chat or whatever else.
After Lovern, the follow up guest speakers were members of the Brockton Police Department. They spoke about how they help the Haitian population and that their concern isn't about if the victim is an illegal immigrant or not but their main concern is about safety. This is a poignant conversation to have because there is a population within the Haitian Community that doesn't have their legal paperwork together that may be experiencing physical abuse but won't call the police because they don't want to be deported or have their abuser who is the bread winner in jail while she ends up homeless. The Brockton Police also let the attendees know that they don't always separate the family. They have other resources that include anger management and other healthy family courses.
The follow up guest speaker was City Councilor At-Large Jean Bradley Denerncourt. City Councilor Jean Denerncourt spoke about the hardwork Judith put into Inspiration For Tomorrow Inc and how she is a pillar in the community that she genuinely cares about victims of domestic violence. City Councilor Jean Denerncourt gave thanks to the Brockton Police Department for their dedication to serving the Brockton Community. He also reiterated how he believes in Inspiration For Tomorrow Inc's mission and that they truly can and will help victims.
Judith came up to give a warm and humble welcome to the next guest which was her pastor, George Irabor and the young ladies from the church of Foundation Of Grace Life to present a special praise dance routine. The Foundation Of Grace Life of Rejoicing Dancers set the passionate mode with their Gospel song track and enterance onto the main floor. The young ladies danced elegantly in uniform to celebrate their trust in Christianity. The whole room's eyes were focused on the girls dancing their hearts out. At the end everyone gave the girls a standing ovation.
The follow up speaker was FEFE who performed an original improptu song for domestic violence victims. He sang it with great conviction and honesty that we couldn't tell that his song was random. After FEFE sung he shared his feelings about domestic violence.
The final guest speaker was Bellugi Belcin. She sung Andra Day's song Rise Up. Rise Up is a motivational song to remind people regardless of what people are going through they have the strength to rise and perserver. Bellugi sung with elegance and power comanding the room and her vocal chords to sing bravely. The audience gave her a round of applause.
To bring Teen Dating Awareness Program to completion Judith took the stage to honor Franck Coulanges who aided her with putting the event together. One by one she called out all the key players that helped bring Teen Dating Violence Awareness Program to succession.
I received a plaque that stated the appreciaiton for my hosting ability and with great humility I accepted. Judith gave a closing speech to wrap up the event and we all clapped. The Teen Dating Violence Awareness event went wondefully.
Everyone who came whether they were local political figures or church members all learned something valuable and that was the importance of ending teen dating violence. The event's purpose was to show comradery with potential victims who didn't know where to turn for support or could have been misinformed about resources available. Judith and all of the guest speakers did a great job clearing the misconceptions up. If you would like to get in touch with Judith or learn more about Inspiration For Tomorrow Inc contact Judith via phone at (508) 474-9804 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.iftinc.org.
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The most recent book trailer part Part 40 I reveal by the end of middle school I had completely sunken into depression. Everything was a drag but certain pops of happiness kept me going with masking my pain. I was the go to person for support and relief but I couldn't relieve myself. I reference how Robin Williams was a comedian but committed suicide due to depression. Click HERE to watch.
I'll leave you with a personal quote of mine, "It's imperative that these acts of wrongdoings do not continue unchecked for it is our children who pay the highest cost." - Vie Ciné
As Iyanla Vanzant says, "I am not my sister's keep, I am my sister."
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