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Unmasking The Needs & Filling In The Gaps

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By Giavonna Funches –

Mystery surrounded the eight women wearing masks as the guests filed into the Castaway last week. The eight are the core of a group known as The Leading Ladies. They hosted a luncheon to unmask the needs in the community that are too often hidden behind masks of hurt, insensitivity caused by issues of obesity, teen pregnancy, illiteracy all affecting the lives of African Americans more seriously than any other ethnic group. The guests were a small influential group of mostly women, and they presented their program and how they planned to address these serious issues facing the African American community.

Leading Ladies are leaders in Black churches, and they are funded by The First 5 program where they have numerous resources for African American mothers to help prepare their children ages 0-5 for school readiness.

They covered health care reforms which break down into two groups which are child/family assessment and health care access. They also discussed concerns about obesity in children and also gave nutritional ideas to help reduce and control obesity in young children.

Teenage pregnancy is a major concern in our communities and our Leading Ladies are trying to reduce and prevent the same cycle from repeating itself in the future. Parental education and literacy, which is also known as the Mothers Read program has very insightful information for mothers and points to the importance of reading to your child. The group only deals with 0-5 under the First 5 three year grant, but they are looking for other funding that will allow them to reach older children.

At the end of the presentation, members acknowledged their invited guests, giving thanks for their involvement in programs for youth in the African American Community. They were very appreciative and took the time to give gifts to each guest. Judging by the comments heard following the program Leading Ladies are and will be even more successful.

The membership includes Arthelia Jones, Johari Hodari, Kathy Flowers, Trudy Finlayson, Veatrice Jews, Selina Burns, Gloria Kimbel and Phillipa Riley.

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