One Island / One Heart:
Heidy is the founder and President of “One Island, One Heart”, an organization created to help create sustainable families and communities” in Santo Domingo and Haiti. Heidy is also the author of “Does God speaks Spanish”, a book dedicated to children, available at amazon.com, and other book outlets.
THE SECRET OF MENTAL HEALTH
Depression, hopelessness, suicide, mental health, anxiety, these are very common words, part of our everyday lives. This is an epidemic that its affecting everyone across cultures, gender, race, color and status. It’s a disease that can affect anyone and we MUST take the negative connotations away. The best weapon against it is to recognize it, take the shame away and bring out in the open. Mental health and Mental illness tend to be overlooked across cultures, and in many cases, it is viewed as a “sign” of weakness. This is a lie that is destroying lives, families and our youth. We must break the silence by educating our communities on the true meaning of Mental Health.
We have a warrior and an advocate in our Buffalo community — Ms. Kelly Marie Wofford. She is the Director of Community Relations at the Erie County Medical Center and is also the founder and principal of Front Seat Life, LLC, an organization dedicated to breaking barriers and educating our communities on mental health and wellness. This is accomplished through various workshops, seminars and peer support services held throughout the year. Front Seat Life works closely with community organizations, corporations, churches, civic groups and professional organizations to demystify mental health, provide methods of addressing this issue. Ms. Wofford stressed the importance of breaking the silence amongst black and brown people. She said “When we look at the numbers, the percentages of minorities with mental health challenges is lower than our white counterparts. However, the rate at which those numbers are growing is outpacing that same group.”
In WNY, we have a few local organizations, including Front Seat Life that are working hard to break the negative stigma across cultures such as Mental Health Association of WNY, Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition, the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Erie County and NAMI. Unfortunately, there are very few resources that address mental health from a cultural perspective.
“That was one of the reasons I formed Front Seat Life. The silence in our communities of color is a danger when it comes to mental illness. We are told to be strong, to pray our way through, to have faith, to let God work all things out when other interventions are sometimes necessary”, stated Ms. Wofford.
I asked her, what measures can we take to break the silence? Be empathetic and listen without judgement, educate yourself on mental health and mental illness, Early intervention, understanding that there is NO SHAME in seeking help and be supportive of our loved ones.
Ms. Kelly Marie Wofford has used her own diagnoses of major depression and borderline personality disorder by sharing her story with others and being a role model. She does not let these terms define her but rather use them to show others that life can be lived fully, and well while in mental health recovery.
For more information on mental health advocacy and Front Seat Life – Visit www.frontseatlife.com
THE YOUNG MISS BUFFALO PAGEANT
The youth today is a precious gem that we must care for in every phase of their lives. It is our duty to provide support and resources needed for a successful future. This the goal of “The Young Miss Buffalo Pageant Scholarship and Enrichment Program (YMBP). The Young Miss Buffalo Pageant is a nonprofit scholarship and enrichment program, founded in 1999 by Detra M. Trueheart, who also serves as president.
The mission of the organization, according to the founder, “is to provide enriching and life changing opportunities to low-income young ladies, ages 13 to17, regardless of culture and background. The program focuses on providing four essential elements: Beauty, Education, Public Service, and Talent – as part of the curriculum.
For 20 years, YMBP has influenced the lives of many young ladies, providing them with a strong foundation by equipping them with the tools necessary to help them become the best version of themselves, and at the same time, addressing issues they are faced with in today’s American society. As a result of its success in Buffalo, the organization has expanded its reach to servicing young in Erie County and western New York.
ACCEPTING 2020 APPLICATIONS: The Young Miss Buffalo Pageant Scholarship & Enrichment Program is currently accepting application for the 2020 Young Miss Buffalo Pageant. For four months, 15-20 young ladies will experience an enrichment program that includes personal development workshops, community service, and activities that culminate into an annual pageant. “The pageant’s focus is to empower young ladies to reach beyond their own comfort zones through a process of healthy nurturing from the inside out”, they said.
The pageant is open to any young lady ages 13 to 17 years of age, a resident of Buffalo and surrounding areas (Erie County & Western NY). She must be a student in the middle or high school, with a 75 or above academic grade average.
DEADLINE: February 14, 2020. Applications should be submitted with a photocopy of the most recent report card. For an application or more information, go to www.ymbp.org. The application can be filled online or call 1-855-737-6222.
Photos: Zeruiah Shadwick, 14, the reigning Young Miss Buffalo 2019. She is a student at Leonardo Da Vinci High school; Detra M. Trueheart, President/Founder; Leilani Montanez, Miss young Buffalo 2017
THE CITY OF GOOD NEIGHBORS SUPPORTS ACROSS CULTURES
The City of Buffalo is known for the “city of good neighbors”
This spirit was proven once again during the first annual “Noche Buena Fundraiser”, hosted by One Island One Heart, Inc., on Friday, December 13th at the Pucho Olivencia Center on Swan Street.
Our organization, One Land, One Heart (OIOH) is a newly founded nonprofit organization established here in Buffalo, NY, serving Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This was the first time we sponsored a major public event. The support provided by the different communities in Buffalo was incredible.
It was an evening of fun, music, food and culture, all in the name of helping children and families in need. OIOH has hit the ground running in establishing a solid foundation of support in the communities they serve. The success of this fundraiser has provided the groundwork for the initiatives set for 2020 — community development and the expansion of a health and nutrition program.
The OIOH team would like to thank all those who donated and attended the event. Stay tuned for upcoming fundraisers and activities. If you are interested in getting involved or becoming a monthly donor, please visit our website at www.oneislandoneheart.org.
We look forward to working with you in 2020!
GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN, DARING TO DREAM
This is my first column, and I plan to continue sharing my interest and concerns on a monthly basis. I was born in the Dominican Republic and at the age of 8 years old I came to the United State and resided in the Bronx, NY. In 1996 I moved to Buffalo to attend Buffalo State where I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Health and Wellness, and a master’s degree in Human Services Administration. For the last 12 years, I have worked in Adult Education, providing academic advisement at the University’s Buffalo Educational Opportunity Center. In 2017, I founded a nonprofit organization, One Island One Heart, serving the children, families, and communities in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
I have recently achieved a long-time dream of becoming a writer of children’s books, and published my first book, “Does God Speak Spanish”, inspired by my beautiful daughter and her love for God. I was given the opportunity of “El Sueño Americano”; blessed to have the ability to choose as I dared to dream of what I wanted to be when I grow up. There is nothing better than to have the freedom to dream. Unfortunately, this is not the same for many children and families in other countries around the world. Being of Dominican decent, I understand the great need, not only in my own patria, but also in our sister country of Haiti.
La Hispañola, an island made up of two nations suffering with poverty, although the circumstances may not be the same, they are both affected by the infestation of political corruption and with no end in sight.
So, what do we do? I am a strong believer that if each one of us choose to dream of a better future for others and use our abilities, opportunities and power to make a small difference, the IMPACT can be much more significant. Therefore, I chose to go against the grain and give back. I dared to see two nations as ONE. How dare you? Are you crazy? This was the response of many people as I presented the name of my nonprofit and explain how I had dared to dream… of making a difference and give back.
You see, in my mind, it’s a simple equation. If you remove the politics and the misconstrued history, you will be able to just see what is the most important, the children who dream of what they want to be when they grow up, families and communities that are looking for a better future.
This is the mission of One Island One Heart, Inc., to bring awareness of the needs and connecting communities to provide resources. To learn more about our cause, please visit us at oneislanoneheart.org, or email us at the Buffalo Latino Village, firstname.lastname@example.org.