I am deeply thankful to have attendedThe Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation’sGirls Who Rule the World mentoring weekend. The mentoring camp for young girls took place in Roberta, Georgia and was a long weekend of motivation, inspiration and insight. The young mentees were able to get away from the distractions of home, sans cell phones, in order to concentrate on themselves. A program focused on, as their mission states, “the importance of positive self-image, responsible personal conduct, respect for self and others, educational achievement and cultural enrichment.” Imagine a designated place for young girls to focus on, well, being young girls. Imagine a safe place for these girls to meet, bond with and trust one another. Imagine life-long friendships formed. Imagine a place where these young girls feel supported and listened to; a place where they can share their innermost ideas, thoughts, feelings, fears, doubts and dreams. Imagine a place where those insights are heard, supported, nurtured and actively resolved with a roadmap outlining plans to be implemented. Imagine the cultivation of young minds, hearts and spirits in an effort to launch confident girls who will rule the world. All of these things were imagined by Steve and Marjorie Harvey when they created the program. They had the vision and turned it into a reality.
As you scroll through the snippets of moments captured, below, my hope is that you sense the intensity of the moments, both in the light-hearted bonding between these new friends, and in the journey they embarked on, to self-discovery. I can tell you this - the girls were not the only ones who embarked on that journey. It was a transformative experience, from behind the lens. This, I know for sure.
The back story:
This incredible story began in 2011. That was the year I was watching a documentary which included Jackie Brewton as a featured speaker. I was drawn to her words, her message, and overall presence. It was at that moment, I knew her work was important. I subsequently reached out to her via social media, simply in order to thank her for sharing her stories. We would stay connected here and there and became very familiar with each other’s posts, interests, and causes.
Once I lost my mom, Jackie was one of the many thoughtful people who sent me beautiful private messages of comfort, encouragement, and to my surprise, thanks. She was thanking me for the transparency of my posts about my mom. She was telling me that my words affected how she would spend quality time with her own mother. Those sentiments touched me deeply; they still do, today.
I had invited Jackie to be a guest writer on my other blog, The Celebrity Optimist, where we shift the focus from the negative to the positive things celebrities are doing with their platforms. She graciously accepted and I was so excited about it! This is where serendipity was at work.
Jackie sent me a note letting me know that she hadn’t forgotten about her guest entry, but that she though it might be best to wait until September, since she would be speaking at The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Girls Who Rule the World mentoring weekend and that way she could tie the foundation in with the piece. Wow. Months earlier, on March 25th, to be exact, I had posted this blog entry about the very event Jackie would be speaking at:
Even more interesting, once I published the post and spread the word via social media, I was honored to have had my tweet retweeted by the Steve Harvey Nation!
I immediately was intrigued and asked Jackie if she knew whether the mothers would be attending with their daughters? She was unsure but I felt that even if the mothers were not attending, these girls, these daughters, would be the perfect addition to my project! I loved what The Harveys were doing for these young girls and I was inspired to capture the moments. I was moved to become a part of the experience. Long story short, Jackie was the impetus that made it happen. She never hesitated to put me in touch with the production team. It was because of her I was able to have the opportunity to attend this event. The (positive) power of social media! Thank you, Jackie!! (This would also be the first time we would be meeting each other, in person!) I was (and am) so grateful that the production team at the foundation took a liking to my Anita Claire Project, and invited me on board! Thank you Hannah and Brandi!!
I actually also like to say it was a birthday gift from my mom. I received the confirmation call, that I was to attend and photograph the weekend, on my birthday. Incredible.