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monthly champions

FEBRUARY

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

"Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles" ~Martin Luther King Jr. 

LORIEL JENKS

Woman of Grace and Love.

Through the past five years I have benefitted taking classes with Cathy, whenever I can fit it into my busy life. My son, oldest of three boys asked me recently, “Mom, don’t you have a class tomorrow? A class similar that you did when we would go to the gym?”

 

Being a single mom of a 9 year old and a set of 2 year old twins, I feel blessed for my village, despite the surprises along the way! Since March 2020, I’m a stay at home mom with my oldest doing school virtually and teaching the active twins (#teamnonnaps). I also help immediate family, a couple neighbors and/or care for other people’s children. December 2020 I finally completed my Bachelor’s in Communication with minors in Psychology and Theatre Arts.

 

I find myself exhausted and forget to concentrate on better self-care, trouble finding time to do so. However, that’s when comments or questions like my oldest presented or when Cathy sends messages, that I need to be reminded that I can be encouraged, uplifted and engaged. 

GUY-CLAUDE BALAN

Man of Courage and Dedication to his Journey

I came to Pittsburgh in 2016 from Haiti. I have 5 siblings; 2 older brothers, 2 older sisters, and 1 little sister. 

 

I arrived in Pittsburgh to finish up my Nuclear Medicine degree, 2 years later went on to get my Respiratory Therapy degree. Getting all those degrees I thought would bring me happiness but I still was not happy. Instead of focusing on what could make me happy, I was trying to make others happy.

 

Yoga taught me, that listening to yourself is the first step to taking care of yourself. Listening to your body is also a huge key to practicing yoga. I let go of the thought that, life is about competition and cemented the idea that life is about living. Yes especially now during this global pandemic. When I can practice yoga, it helps my mind stay rooted because by now I would have lost my cool and sanity.  When using the breathing technique, I found a mental exhalation valve to help my thoughts ease, then I can start to think clearly. 

Kris Gillespie

Woman of Strength in Faith and Family

“Recently I had coffee with a friend who gave me a compliment. “You have an unusual spirit. It is bold, challenging and causes me to think about God’s word like I had not considered before.” I am thankful that she saw no ordinary spirit, but one that is courageous and confident, willing to speak hope and assurance, despite a challenging and disconcerting 2020. Even though I have a graduate degree from an Ivy League school, my first course of action is to put my focus on enriching my personal relationship with God.

 

I am one of eleven children, my parents were married 57 years, until my dad died of cancer. We grew up in Prince Georges County, MD.  I am the first generation to go to college. Our immediate family has been blessed to have had the opportunity to graduate with Masters, MBA or Law degree from an Ivy or Elite US college. My husband and I have been married 36 years, with three adult children and one grandchild. On January 18, 2021 (MLK day), I experienced a mile-stone, becoming one of the few minority women to be co-owner of a FedEx P &D business outside Nashville TN. 

 

For the last 30 years, my wellness journey is to always understand and value a good diet and regular exercise. I work out 6-7 days a week. My core exercise is walking 4-5 miles a day. Its free and I can do it as my schedule permits. As I age, I am realizing my diet is even more critical. I am drinking more water, less carbs and sugar. Investing in my physical health gives me the stamina to have fun with my grand, be more effective at work and have the energy to give back to the community and enjoy the hobbies I love.”

”Every great dream

begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength,

the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

— Harriet Tubman

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