Friday, January 31, 2014

Service is as Service Does

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is one in which I love to serve with City Year in my home state of New York. I'm a proud alumnus of the City Year Boston Americorps Program. I've learned how big our work is and the impact it has in the community on MLK Day. On this special day we see the community, service partners and corporations all pitch in during our dedicated service year.
So on Monday, January 20th my daughters and I took the train to Newtown High School in Elmhurst, New York. We were assigned to a team whose project was to write inspirational letters to accompany care kits for a local women's shelter. Some other projects of the day included: Book shelves being built on the spot by corps members, cool posters of the school's namesake by some of the high-school students, awesome colored bulletin boards and murals which could be found on most floors of the school.
I took the girls around to see the impact of service. The volunteers, partners and all the paint :) Special shout to all sponsors. It was really awesome. Anytime we see a red jacket in our travels, my girls always point out to me someone from City Year. They understand what corps members do, served alongside them on MLK Day and see the impact of service.
Click here for a video snipit of the day!
It's so great to see the ripple effect of service and the partnerships that make it all possible. I was blessed to introduce my neighboor Jason Klein to City Year and see him become a corps member in the early years of the New York site. Jason served on the civic engagement team. It was on an MLK Day that his team led a service project in our neighboorhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn at Ebbets Field Middle School. Can you imagine?- I had the opportunity to paint the halls of a school I once attended.-It was I.S. 320 at that time.
The experience of City Year in my town with Red Jackets coming down Franklin Avenue!-Priceless. Later that year, Jason became the keynote speaker at our annual fundraiser-which was held at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers that particular year. One of our corporate sponsors, paid for a table for 10 alumni.- Which was awesome cause my funds were low and I was in transition. I didn't even know that Jason was scheduled to speak. It was a surreal experience as he talked about me telling him about this work. He told the audience, 'It wasn't just a job, it changed his life.'
Happy 25th Year of service City Year! Special Thanks to our founders Michael Brown and Alan khazei for your vision and ripples of continued service in Boston to South Africa! Hey world, -Do share this excellent program with someone in your town today!

Friday, January 24, 2014

To do, or not to do, that is the question-

Welcome to Thresholdworld 2014! This year is already surprising me. I reached out to a longtime friend that was going to be celebrating her birthday. Since our high school senior ski trip to the Poconos, we always knew how to get it in our dance! So I asked her where the party at?
She sent me an email about where she'd be Saturday night. “House of Idle,” -Launch party for LAZYMAS.COM. –The online platform that allows adventure seekers to Book, Manage and share their Carnival Experience. I pondered about this one. “Slackness is mandatory.” -What? Google it! I attend events where I need to dress up and prefer to be where people will be respectful, (though one can’t determine potential actions of strangers anywhere.) I wondered; what kind of party will this be?
I guess I sort of identify with Genese Jamilah of I Don’t Do Clubs. After toiling off and on for hours if I should go and what I’d wear, I decided -since I reached out to my friend to attend, I should go and experience something new. It’s not like she’s an inappropriate person and we've been out before. Through her I met my first financial advisor and other important leads. She was actually our high school valedictorian and is a young professional. –Like many people that were in attendance.
It’s amazing how what were taught or heard growing up plays on our future decisions. A phrase spoken often as I grew up - "An idle mind is the devils workshop" -I'm sure many people would take a shot at what that means and/or have heard it before. –No goals of a positive life, leading to that of a negative one-(to put the definition lightly for all to relate.) For the most part in this text/post we refer to laziness and action.
Most of my West Indian friends are very hard working individuals, so to coin the term House of Idle; even in doing so they definitely are not. -Like my friend and that of LazyMas.com CEO Trena De Laundro, the go to woman for booking your trip to the Caribbean. Trena is also Senior Sales Manager at OfferMobi, a Mobile Performance Advertising Network and member of Technically Brooklyn, which focuses on building community through technology.
The awesome action packed evening of soca, reggae, hip-hop, and more was enjoyed by attendees! It takes a lot of action to dance until you the sweat just flows, everywhere. In true Caribbean fashion, as time grew later the party was still just getting started.
What are you on the threshold of doing this year? Whatever it is, don’t allow (what my current pastor says is-) False Evidence Appearing Real –FEAR! Deter new great experiences in your life. Be Blessed!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Comfort and Joy!

Happy December World!- I just got in from The Flat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The newly formed Brooklyn Women's Collective hosted a Comedy, Coats & Cakes holiday event at this unique venue. Great partners generously contributed to this thoughtful endevour.
(Pic-Raffled in-kind donations) The YWCA and Safe Horizon will be recieving warm donations from attendees of the event. While speaking with Lauren Paige Richeson, Founder of The Brooklyn Women's Collective, I learned that over 200 coats have already been recieved by the YWCA from prior collections earlier this season.(Pic below- Donations from attendees)
(Pic-Jeli Laya Daniel, Board Member) It was reported in local publications that NY Cares Coat Drive recieved less donations this year. So while people are still welcome to donate to them now, talk has begun of partnering with the Collective next year.
(Pic-Lauren) Lauren was really sweet and made everyone feel so welcome as she 'Spread Love the Brooklyn Way.' She is from Virginia and felt there was something missing in the borough she now calls home. The focus of this Women's Movement is community development and women's empowerment.
(Pic-Amber Chandler, Board Member)
(L-R Lauren, Melanie, Board Member, Anna)-In January the Collective will host an open forum. So check their site soon to see when this date is availiable. "If you're an artist, entreprenuer, homemaker, innovator, dreamer, hunter, gather, crafter, teacher, learner- this is a great opportunity to get out and meet similar talented creatives!"-Brooklyn Women's Collective. If you feel something is missing in your part of the world initiate the pieces in coming together. Bring comfort to those in need and joy to those able to give in your community. Peace

Monday, November 25, 2013

What A Character!

(L-R Jeffrey Wright, Melanie Shaleya Lewis, Michael Kenneth Williams) On Sunday I went to the cool and cozy Bedford Hall for a screening of the season finale of Boardwalk Empire. It was a highlight that Michael K. Williams was to be in attendance. I was even more pleasantly surprised to see Jeffrey Wright as he entered the room. Now picture screens all around and nicely positioned seating to choose from, drinks of choice and food. I had some yummy mac and cheese and must mention my appreciation of the kind staff from entering to leaving. After some light research I found it interesting that Jeffrey Wright was a political science major in college and is the co-founder and Chairman of Taia Peace Foundation. He works closely in economic development in Sierre Leone.
(Melanie Shaleya Lewis and Michael Kenneth Williams) Mr. Williams was a professional dancer before pursuing acting and founded Making Kids Win. -A charitable organization building community centers in urban neighborhoods that are in need of safe spaces for children to learn and play. The actor's backgrounds supported the character's in which they played. Mr. White (Williams) with the running of the Onyx Club and Dr. Narcisse (Wright) with his many political dealings were all played out very well. Another interesing fact found was that Mr. Wright's mom worked in U.S. Customs. I love how there is always a connection to the global community. There was also alot of history as the series is set at a historic time. My screening partner continued to shout, 'respect to the writers, and I agree they did an great job. I enjoyed getting out and meeting these talented actors. -While we study and work towards our passions let's remember that our backgrounds help to bring out our character in the future.-Be Blessed!-Melanie

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall Festival 2013

(Left to Right) Exceed Charter School Parent Teacher Association Members-Vice President Anita Forde, Treasurer Cherita Welch, President Greshwin Pierre and Melanie S. Lewis) I'm on the Parent Teachers Association for my children's school. This is my third year of experience in this role. Serving on the board is not always easy. Parents volunteer their time, money and resources as partners in their children's education. I encourage all guardians, community members, and educational partners to stay engaged as proactive supporters in educational pursuits. You are needed and appreciated! Together everyone achieves more! TEAM. Below are pictures from our 1st Annual Fall Harvest Festival on November 9th. We went all out and had fun doing it!
(Fruit Turkey) This was the cool Harvest Art created by one of our scholars.
(Sylvia Lewis-Grace loved her face painting by JJ the Clown!)
(JJ the Clown and lil cuz)
(Harvest Art and Crafts Winner Best Leaf Mask)
(Sonia Cain-Crump, Treasurer 2012-2013 prepares Harvest Art and Crafts table)
(pop up of lil Ms. Cain-Crump)
(Legacy Lewis)
(Our awesome Parent President Greshwin Pierre was in great spirits!)
(Mr & Mrs. Hunt parents, and food preparers of the day were great sports as pilgrims.)
(Cliff Matias and Mariah Gladstone of Red Hawk Native American Arts Council engaged children in traditional dances, music and education)
(Mr. Roland of the FDNY Fire Safety Education Unit educated parents about keeping the family safe and gave out carbon monoxide alarms)

Monday, October 21, 2013

TWO CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

So yesterday I walked for a cure for breast cancer research. I was joined by my mom, a stage four cancer patient and you wouldn’t even know it, along with my daughters, a Girl Scout Daisy and Junior who represented their troops. We made our donation which I hope many others did as well. There is power in numbers and much that can be done when lots of people give a little of what they have for a cause. Whether it’s using one’s own two feet to make a statement and walk for a cure or another supporting the action of an initiative, two can make a difference.
It was my daughters' involvement in the Girl Scouts that inspired our action. Though we knew many people that were talking about walking, we are grateful this opportunity was added for the girls to participate. P.S. unbeknownst to them my girls found out after the walk they'll get badges for their action!
You made not have been there or knew about it, but you can still participate too! Be blessed as you take action and encourage someone you know with this or other ailments today. Let them know you support them and a cure. Showing love aids in healing as well. Click here to donate to the cause.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

All In Partnerships!

(Pic by Sylvia M.Lewis-Grace)Brooklyn, NY-Today in front of her campaign headquarters on Lincoln between Franklin and Classon Avenues, Laurie Cumbo was endorsed by Congressman Hakeem Jefferies for City Council District 35. Visit www.Lauriecumbo2013.com for more information on her platform. Be active and engaged in a campaign near you! We all are affected by the work of our public servants. Partnerships are powerful in getting the job done. Vote for your choice on primary day September 10th NYC. Be blessed.