Grandma Polly and her Big Rig Kids

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I first met Renee Brown aka ‘Grandma Polly’ at a MLK Benefit hosted by Kevan Glover and the Konnected Foundation.

With her boots, plaid flannel shirt and leopard print cowboy hat, I knew she was someone I had to know.

Having just published her second book in the Big Rig Kids series, Renee strives to crush stereotypes and bring attention to adversities children face today.

But writing children’s books wasn’t her original plan. In fact it was never her plan at all.

After driving a truck for years, Renee had saved and was organizing a non profit homeless facility for single mothers and their children.

But God said “No!”

She struggled with giving up her plans. She questioned God. She was trying to help people. Why would God want her to give that up???

But HE had a better idea. A bigger and better way to help families.

He gave her five diversely ethnic characters.

She named the main character after her own Grandma Polly. And gave the Big Rig her grandfather’s nickname for her, Sapphire.

The first two books focus on Sickle Cell and Bullying.

The books don’t just tell stories. They are a movement.

Community Blood drives and benefits bring attention to the little known disease Sickle Cell Anemia.

She brings her anti bullying campaign to after school programs around the country.

With at least eight books planned, Renee believes she can spark conversations that will connect and strengthen families.

The real life Big Rig Kids do a lot for their communities.

They spread the word about the importance of donating blood. They march to bring attention to Sickle Cell. They perform role play exercises on handling different bullying scenarios. And they hand out care packages to the homeless.

God loans us our children. It’s our job to educate them and help them grow physically and emotionally.

Renee teaches her own children and grandchildren as well as her readers that you can’t grow if you stay in your comfort zone. You’ve got to get uncomfortable.

You can’t always go by your own timeline.

Grandma knows best!

http://thebigrigkids.com/

Dennis Reed: Inspirational Flamethrower

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It’s impossible to be in the same room with Dennis Reed without being fired up. Anything you’re passionate about he brings out of you and celebrates it.

It’s also impossible to feel down with him around. Because he’s going to give you some words. Words of wisdom. Words of inspiration.

He’s one of those people that I know if I’m feeling sad or insecure I can click on any of his social media accounts and I can be lifted up immediately by his posts.

I first met Dennis last year while blogging an event for his nonprofit youth organization ‘Inspire the Fire’.

With his taxicab checkered outfit and boundless energy I could understand how this group of young people were so hyped and dedicated to their performance.

****SHAMELESS PLUG****

Check out my blog post ITF: The Winter Xperience Showcase 2K17

Inspire the Fire is just one of the many projects.

He also has the gospel group GAP- God’s Appointed People.

Reed has performed for some pretty amazing people. Oprah, Maya Angelo, Tyler Perry and Michelle Obama are just a few that have been moved by his music.

He has performed alongside hometown favorites Fantasia and Anthony Hamilton as well as Be Be Winans And New Kids on the Block.

But the performers closest to his heart are the over 400 young people who have been a part of his Inspire the Fire movement.

He’s far too modest to volunteer some of the info I’ve gathered. Like how he’s been known to use his own money to help out with things some of the kids need. And how he’s been known to go to the schools when one of his group has an issue. He’s attended school functions. He’s been the surrogate parent when needed. He is to most of the kids ‘Uncle Dennis’

Uncle Dennis knows the importance of performing in the young lives he mentors. His mother said he would play an invisible piano while in his crib.

He became very involved playing music for his church when he was 10.

He was blessed to have a family that supported his dream. And also to have a couple of Uncle Dennis’s of his own along the way.

I asked about his best and worst moments with ITF. Financing the movement was a struggle. But he viewed it as a time of growth.

His best time is always ‘NOW’

Every moment is his best.

That’s a pretty powerful statement.!!! Why can’t we all feel like that??!!

His faith in God and knowing his group of kids are looking up to him keep him grounded. He doesn’t take credit for anything he’s accomplished.

Don’t you just really want to meet this guy now???? If I didn’t already know him I would!!!!

Keep up with him on his social media accounts. You will be exhausted from just watching him I promise.

Attend his next ITF event. Help support these kids dreams.

I watched this young girl dance at the ITF Show I attended. She had the most incredible smile on her face. Not just when she was dancing in the spot light, but as she danced with the group and as others got their chance in the spotlight as well.

I’ll never forget her smile. Because she was filled with joy. Not just because she was doing what she loved. But because her friends were as well.

This is how Dennis makes everyone connected to him feel. He gives us self esteem. A sense of importance. And a sense of being a team player.

He ignited the spark…..

He fanned the flames….

Dennis Reed Inspired The Fire

Black Fathers Rock: Changing the Narrative

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An idea written in a little black notebook six months ago played out on stage, making Ryan Jor El’s dream a reality.

Black fathers get a bad wrap. Ryan set out to dispel those stereotypes and change the narrative of The Black Father.

Six fathers were chosen by a diverse committee.

I didn’t plan on crying at this event. But after hearing Toussaint Romain speak so eloquently of Braxton Winston as he presented him with The Activist of the Year Award there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Our tears turned to laughter as Sport E Odie’s son stole the show, as well as his award for Entrepreneur of the Year.

Eric A. Montgomery, Esq proved you don’t have to give up being stylish when you have kids as he accepted the Dapper Dad Award.

Busy dad, WCNC anchor Fred Shropshire squeezed in accepting his Father of the Year award before having to rush back to the station to host the 11 o’clock news.

Eugene Price accepted the Senior Father of the Year Award as his family cheered him on.

Surrogate Father of the Year Shawn Carrington was unable to attend so Timothy Fowler of the Non profit Boys to Men Foundation accepted the award on his behalf.

He was also surprised to be presented with a check to benefit his foundation.

This event was the first of many planned to change the image the world has of black fathers.

I am fortunate that my daughters have a strong black father that has always been present in their lives. And they are raising their sons to one day be black fathers who rock.