Uprising’s Woman of the Month, Kristin Shymoniak: A woman currently making history

K. Love | Women’s History Month |HERstory

A true servant leader, Kristin Shymoniak, born and raised in Aliquippa, PA embodies leadership and purpose while walking in her destiny to (as cliché as it may sound) make the world a better place.

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There are so many women to highlight during Women’s History Month and we considered Kristen long before March. Uprising Experience has known Kris for over two or three years now and we’ve watched her manifest her greatness and share it with organizations and events throughout the DMV. She is connected to us through With Great Care, LLC (where she is behind the scenes making things happen), but before WGC she was already leaving her mark in the community.  

This young woman is a powerful leader, educator, and a social justice advocate.

Kristin Shymoniak humbly allowed Uprising Experience in her home to get to know her a little more. At one point she laid back on the couch pillow with her head tilted back, relaxed, looking carefree and comfortable while we were talking.

Kris was in her safe space – in her element, almost with her guard down sharing her life story with us. Her responses were effortless, passionate, and filled with integrity and energy. We discovered where her heart to serve was developed and what she hopes to see and leave for generations that will follow her.

Take a listen to our in depth conversation (taken place in Northeast, DC), but first, below are a few Q & A we had prior to our recorded conversation.

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Uprising: As a Millennial (or X Millennial) what are the positive advancements (for women in particular) do you see happening in our society?

Kris: “I see so many more women, especially black women, excelling in leadership roles. Women are taking over the political areas, activism, STEAM fields, and businesses. It makes me extremely happy to be a part of the Movement.”

Uprising: Why is advocacy/social justice so important to you?

Kris: “Advocacy for me is not being a voice for the voiceless but returning the voices back to those while they’ve been stolen from. So with being in the social justice movement, I am able to transfer power to those in our communities so that it catches like wildfire and ignites freedom, justice, and prosperity.”

Uprising: What woman in history has made an impact on your life? How & why?

Kris: “WOW! There are so many! I would have to say two (I am not following the directions but I am going to name two lol). Angela Davis and Shirley Chisholm. These women were the epitome of boldness, intelligence, and an unrelenting fight. These women used their classroom or podium as a platform to empower and transfer power to those who had lost hope. Even though they fought injustices tooth and nail, they never lost their dignity and grace. They ignited a fire that counties to burn to this day!”

Uprising: What role did your parents play in your passion for social justice?

Kris: “Everything! Since I can remember, I was surrounded by advocacy. My parents are community leaders and pastors that have a heart for the people. They instilled in me the spirit of service, a drive to fight injustices no matter the cost, and work tooth and nail to raise up those around me. My parents exemplified how one person can conquer 1,000 but with two, they can conquer 10,000! They love hard and fight harder. My parents always allowed me to speak my mind and join the fights that I deemed important and for that, I am extremely grateful.”

Uprising: How are you currently making history?

Kris: “I am making history with each intentional step I take! I am making history through leading one of the most impactful organizations in the country, Thursday Network of the national Urban League. While serving as the community service programs chair, I started a food pantry that has consistently fed over 10 families each month since its inception in August 2017. In addition to activism, I am an educator. I make history everyday in my classroom, teaching students that their voice, energy, and actions mean more than anything in this world. I teach my students that they are world changers regardless of their age and that their possibles are endless.”

Uprising: Why Thursday Network? How did you first hear about the organization and what is your current role in Thursday Network?

Kris: “As one who has lived a life of service, it was only right for me to join the Urban League movement! When I moved to DC in 2011, I was looking for a place to serve and I was introduced to Thursday Network. I attended their MLK Blanket and Toiletries Drive during MLK Day and was immediately invested! During this event, volunteers from all over the Greater Washington area joined forces to assemble care packages for those experiencing homelessness. It was beautiful and I joined the movement that week! I am currently the President of Thursday Network. I serve with over 200 young professionals, lead by 13 strong and devoted committee chairs and officers- that create the most innovative programming dedicated to community empowerment, civic engagement, youth development, economic freedom, and enhancing the health of our communities.”

Uprising: For the next generation, what advice would you give them?

Kris: “I would tell the next generation to live and move unapologetically with a vision to change the world, be everlasting, be contagious, and conquer. I would tell them to always remember that they are Kings and Queens and that no voice is more powerful than their own and the only way to make a change is to act!”

Thank you Kristin for talking with us and allowing us in her home. You can support her and Thursday Network @shyshowbob_  @thursdaynetwork

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To listen to the full interview, click here.

Continue to support us on social media @wgcuprising to stay engaged by commenting on our blogs and IG posts.

Look out for our blogs every 2nd & 4th Saturday of the month.

 

Kwanzaa 2018

K. Love | December 2018 | Uprising

Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African cultural holiday that is centered around seven principles, called Nguzo Saba (in Swahili). Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26th – January 1st.

Each day, we should greet one another with, “Habari Gani?”

Our response is- The principle for the day, “Umoja or Unity”

Although Kwanzaa is celebrated at the end of the year, we can live out the 7 principles all year long. How will you celebrate Kwanzaa with your family moving forward?

 

 

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The Kinara is the candle holder. The 7 candles represent the 7 principles. Black- The People. Red- The Struggle and Green-The future & hope that comes from the struggle.  

Each day, you light the candle (along with the previous day) to represent which day is being celebrated for the day.

For example, day 2 (Principle 2) is Kujichagulia. During the day’s ceremony, one would light a red candle and the black candle to show that we’re celebrating principle 2. Every day, light the day being celebrated and the previous days.

To get more information and understanding of the history of Kwanzaa, click here.

 

 

Celebrating Black Music!!

Kristi Love | Black Music Month

 

During the month of June, we celebrate the contributions African-Americans have made in the music industry. A month is never enough time to pay homage to artists, writers, and musicians who have positively impacted us, however, we’ll take this month to give more praise than ever before.
On this day, June 7th, 1979, President Jimmy Carter declared June the month of “Black Music Month” to recognize and celebrate Black music in America. He invited various artist and musicians to the White House that day to honor them.
Kenny Gamble and Dyana Williams are the brains behind Black Music Appreciation and Mrs. Williams is one of the main reasons it is viewed as a national month of recognition.
Although proclaimed in 1979, it did not become an officially recognized national celebration until a bill was passed in 2000.
In 2009, former President, Barak Obama officially changed the name to African-American Music Appreciation Month.
Throughout this month, we will highlight past and present artists from different genres who have made positive strives to bring us all of together through music.
Stay tuned for our featured artists and fun Black Music facts.

Sewing into Self-Confidence & Entrepreneurship: 10 Years Strong

By: Kristi Love
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Sew N Know Scholars, Directors, family and friends

For more than 15 years Sewing Opportunity Never Ending (SONE) has supported the Sew N Know Program serving over 2,500 students in the District of Columbia. Recognized as an official DC Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) program the Sew N Know program has effectively operated in more than a dozen DPR facilities, many of which are located in some of the most economically challenged areas of the District. SONE’s mission is to change the nature of economic conditions for disadvantaged and minority individuals through the establishment of community based tutoring, training, and skill-development programs. Continue reading →

Black Girl Vision is on a Mission to support Women of Color Entrepreneurs

By: Kristi Love

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Black Girl Vision brings a twist to the typical pitch competition. They have created, ‘Pitch Competition meets Crowd Funding’. Women of color (and others) register for the monthly BGV event which generates funding for pitch competitors. On the day of the Eat, Pitch, Vote, event, 8 women of color pitch their idea. At the end, participants vote for their favorite business idea. The winner receives funding which allows them to grow their business.

As a business owner of 3 companies and entrepreneur herself, Shelly Bell knew that women of color start businesses at higher rates than everyone else, nonetheless lack the support needed to sustain a viable and profitable business. S. BellProviding access to capital for women of color business owners and entrepreneurs was Shelly’s vison when she created Black Girl Vision in August of 2016.  “With so many women of color entrepreneurs and all the Black Girl Magic happening, we also need support, networking, and funding to work,” Shelly told Uprising.

After attending a few BGV events, the members of DICE were eager to participate in BGV’s Pitch Completion. They won on March 18th and that was the first time founders of DICE pitched their idea and they pitched their way to winning 1st Place!

The founders of DICE, Amber Watson, Tasha Lo Port, and Michaela Hall first connected with Black Girl Vision (BGV) via Instagram (@blackgirlvision). They founded DICE (Diversity, Inclusion, and Collaborative Engagement Leadership Group) to create a better world by celebrating the differences of all people through conversation and collaboration.  “We develop workplaces where discussions and problem-solving are more inclusive, collaborative, and successful in discovering collective solutions that work,” founders tell Uprising Experience.

As winners of the pitch competition, DICE members received $500 in funding, T-shirts for their business, an accounting consultation, a legal consultation, a network of supporters, and business coaching.

“As a successful entrepreneur, Shelly Bell’s guidance has been instrumental in helping us take advantage of opportunities and avoid pitfalls. Having an experienced mentor pushed our business to the next level. We are more competitive, more strategic, and more equipped with the knowledge needed to be successful,” said DICE founders.

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The seed funding helped DICE advance their goals in several ways, “We created a community of practice around diversity and inclusion engagements, we updated our products to provide better training experiences for our customers, and we secured advertising that increased our social media following and produced client leads,” says, Ms. Hall of DICE.

Since the Black Girl Vision Pitch Competition win, members of DICE have advanced to the second level of the DC EBay Startup Cup and they were chosen as one of the top 26 companies from among 100. “The support we’ve received from Black Girl Vision undoubtedly gave us the competitive edge,” DICE tells Uprising.

Line Dancing as a “Support System”

We have all experienced grief and loss and for some of us, we find it hard to cope and move forward while still holding on to memories of our loved ones. Going to therapy or grief and loss counseling (especially in African American families) is more of a taboo topic for our community. We tend not to go to therapy to help us deal with our issues. We stay silent and often find negative ways to cope. However, there are several positive ways (and maybe unconventional ways) to embrace grief and loss in a positive way.

Ms. Paula Allen, who is a Recreational specialist at D.C.’s Parks & Recreation, (Turkey Thicket in Northeast), loss her Grandfather in August of 2004 and not a day goes by where she is not thinking of, honoring, and remember him.

One of the many ways that she embraces the grieving process is through volunteering as a line dance instructor. For Ms. Allen, not only does she enjoy bringing people of all ages together, dancing is her therapy.

“Dancing helps me keep my mind busy and not be so sad during this time (in August),” says P. Allen.

This August marked five years the Turkey Thicket Dance Addicts have hosted their “All White Out Dance Social”. This dance social is special because dance groups from all over the DC Metro area come out to support each other and dance the last days of summer away.

“It is a great way to end the Summer and see what everyone has learned since February,” Paula tells Uprising Experience.

This free event took place on August 24th and was open to the public. Each year, the Dance Addicts invite residents to come dance with them and encourage participants to wear all white.

Janee Stewart, Ward 4 Resident, also appreciates the support system that comes with dancing. Ms. Stewart who has always been a dancer, started line dancing 4 years ago. “My Grandmother was one of the original Line Dance students and she invited me one Friday and I’ve been coming ever since.”