Generations of Women Get Together to Learn

Older women show younger ones how to have the “Courage to Soar”

By Donna Rogers

Girls, young women and seasoned women all came together on Saturday, April 28, for some cross-generational talking and learning at First Baptist Church on Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem.

The gathering, sponsored by the ACEY Group, an affiliate of The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, took as its theme the name of a book by Simone Biles: “Courage to Soar.” Biles, who was called by seminar leaders as “the greatest gymnast in the world,” wrote the book about how she was adopted by her grandparents when her drug-addict mother gave her and her siblings up. She insisted that they were her parents when others tried to define them as grandparents.

Those grandparents started Biles in gymnastics at a young age, and the rest is history. Biles is the 2016 Olympic individual all-around, vault and floor gold medalist, and balance beam bronze medalist.

“I want you to believe in yourself,” like Biles does, retired university educator Dr. Lelia Vickers told the group of about 40 people, including foster children. She had the group take a self-assessment test to determine what was keeping each person from soaring.

Several presenters talked to the women and girls about standing up for themselves, especially when others put them down. Norma Corley, a counselor at Morgan Elementary, told the group that she was one of the first black students to go to an all-white high school.

“You don’t answer to the stuff that doesn’t pertain to you,” she said. “You turn it off. And you are in control of that filter.”

Another presenter, Felecia Piggott-Long, an English teacher at Carver High School and an ordained minister, told the group: “It’s not what they call you. It’s what you answer to.”

The program also covered the proper use of electronic devices and a presentation on inspirational matters.

Attorney Dionne Jenkins, general counsel with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system, told about how teenagers were arrested on felony charges for transmitting naked bodies through their cell phones and social media. She said even though the naked body belonged to one of the senders, it was considered pornography and they were under the age of 18, so they could not legally engage in it. She gave out tips to help the group think about how to use social media wisely.

Piggott-Long spoke about spiritual matters and gave the group some inspirational songs.

Some girls who came to the seminar enjoyed it so much they asked whether the ACEY Group would be back the next weekend. The seminar is presented once a year by the group, which works on several projects throughout the year, including working with foster children, college women, certified nursing assistants and helping obtain items for babies and seniors in nursing homes.

ACEY is an acronym that represents goals of the group: Achievement in the education of women and girls about the power of philanthropy; Commitment to connect with women and girls in the community; Encourage self-esteem and empowerment of women and girls; and Yield women and leaders and philanthropists.

Donna Rogers is a member of the ACEY group and is the editor of the Winston-Salem Chronicle.


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