Friday, July 26, 2013

Your community Program. Teens prepare for Emergencies

FYI…………Something for your community programs to consider with youth involvement.

Our teens are ready for a change, the responsibility to be placed in an independent leadership role.

We know that teens and young adults with support will accept and move forward with this type of training.

What about the individuals on the street corner with no guidance, will they accept, continue with the training, and become a vital resource for their community?  The added extra incentive for a source of income may help.

Let's give them all the chance to contribute to the resiliency and sustainability of our community.

Teenagers prepare for emergencies
July 25, 2013
·    FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Ten Fort Jackson teenagers, ages 13-18, participated in a 20-hour Teen Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, certificate course last week.
CERT was designed to train Americans to help themselves and their communities in the event of a widespread natural disaster. The course teaches basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

The training prepares teenagers to assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Teen CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

"The training is important for many reasons," said R.J. Frazier, Fort Jackson's all hazard emergency manager. "The primary concern is for our youth, giving back and providing educational tools for their future. During this session, they earned a training certification on how to support community volunteer efforts during disasters, but more so than anything, a keen insight of self-worth and accomplishment. They departed with a thorough understanding that no matter what profession they choose in life, they can always give back to the community."

Crystle Siegel, 18, said the training achieved that goal. "Many people don't know what to do in the aftermath of a natural disaster. It's great that we -- teens -- are learning how to assist our communities in emergencies," Siegel said.

Tristan Campos, 16, said the training was also fun.

"I didn't really expect to enjoy the training, but, I got a lot of great information, made some new friends, and learned how to help my community in the event of and emergency."

The course was hosted by the Fort Jackson Emergency Management Office, Army Community Services, Operation Military Kids/Clemson University and the American Red Cross.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A New Educational 'Model'. Emergency Management Training, and International Service


"Leaders don't force people to follow, they invite them on a journey" - Charles S Lauer

From: BEMA - Black Emergency Managers Association []
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 7:16 PM
Subject: A New Educational 'Model'. Emergency Management Training, and International Service


I’m smiling because I may have opened a can of worms.

Being on the OUTSIDE of the academic educational system (lack of PhD credentials), to propose this model of alternative education with local, national, and international ramifications require our illustrious members with these credentials to take this premise\theory and implement or test this model.

Something like this would never be applied or implemented in a quick and ‘dirty’ fashion, but under strict academic scrutiny, and record keeping.  I don’t think anyone wants to take on the burden because it’s……so ‘out of the box’.

With our urban and inner city youths, that have not achieved the outstanding grades within the current educational model nor the awards, scholarships, and financial assistance to pursue even a complete high school education.  These are the individuals that this type of model would address.  Those individual on the corner, waking up every day in search of a job, meaning, future, and hope in life needing something that would require a great change in their current existence to push them to new heights that we can only imagine.

We always forget these individual except when they cause a problem and are noticed in their community by law enforcement, and are about to or are within the youth criminal and social system or institution.  The current educational models do not appeal to them.  Resistance is high.

I remember the legal system would give individuals a choice at one time, jail or the military.  Many picked the military and this brought about changes both socially and financially to the individual, their families, and their communities.

With the elimination of the draft we’ve lost an avenue to exponentially move members of our community further up social and financial status.

The current models will not work.  Both you (maybe) and I were rebellious  when we were young.  But not this rebellious to totally have our rebellious nature make an impression of others that reflect on our family, friends, local and national community.

Emergency management education for the individual, family, local and national community can now propel these individual to find a calling by giving them an alternate form of education, providing a hands-on practical experience outside of the U.S. living on a local country economy while getting a small stipend from the Peace Corp or other international organization.  18-25 year-olds in the FEMA Corp receive a small salary, same amount could suffice. 

But who are those individuals within the FEMA Corp?  Are they the at risk youths mentioned above?  Ask, find out!

… be continued

Louis will only give a little bit to spark the interest.  If the interest is there with others in replies I’ll continue.  Don’t want to write a whole treatise on the subject of a ‘NEW MODEL’ to change urban and inner city communities.


From: Louis (SEA) []
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 5:16 PM
Subject: RE: Water & Food, most vital resources: Malnutrition Killing Children in Cameroon

With little or no effort we could accomplish what the “Back to Africa” moment could only dream of by getting our youth to embrace the idea of being shipped out of here back home…

From: BEMA - Black Emergency Managers Association []
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:32 AM
To: BEMA - Black Emergency Managers Association
Subject: RE: Water & Food, most vital resources: Malnutrition Killing Children in Cameroon

Rick, I’ve stripped off your email information. Fantastic idea.  

Taking ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking even further.

All the FEMA EMI training courses probably add up to a two-year associates degree.  Only costs are time, and conversion of the CEU units to a two or four year college\university.  This is the essence of what BEMA has been advocating, especially for disadvantaged, African-American and other communities.

For funding?  Will colleges and universities accept the CEU conversion, and promote the PEACE CORP, or other humanitarian aid international programs to get our youths to those locations. 

Safety?  If safety is a concern are we safe in our own communities here in the U.S.?   You and I both know that we and other ex-military have a greater appreciation for ‘the world’, and coming home.  There is a difference in reading or seeing things in the newspapers on the hardship and suffering of others in other countries then being there.

Imagine the changes in the world of taking urban, inner city youths with EM training skills TOTALLY out of their environment?  This would be practicing SERVICE.

The changes and improvements we could make to the world in the ‘whole world community’.

ALL WE NEED ARE TWO educational institutions to implement, and the changes will start one person, one family, and one community at time.


From: Rick's GMail []
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:15 AM
To: <>
Subject: Re: Water & Food, most vital resources: Malnutrition Killing Children in Cameroon

I really enjoy being included on your email list.  Today's message brought out a great point worth repeating, and I had to comment!
Imagine the powerful impact 50 kids could make if we could get them through a 2 year emergency management certification program with a bit of intern time, and then get them into the Peace Corps.  Everyone would win!
Imagine how this would magnify if we did this every year.  
I really think you are on to something with this concept.  The question now is how do we find funding to help an effort like this.
Anyway, thanks again and keep the mail coming!
Rick Sacca
Shizuoka, Japan

Sent from my iPad

On Jul 25, 2013, at 18:46, "BEMA - Black Emergency Managers Association" <> wrote:

Going thru my nightly\morning international SITREPS, came across this article on Cameroon.

I know your daughter is there with the Peace Corp and is probably encountering many instances of this in her assignment.  She may have ran into the same instances during her tour of Kenya.

From an EM standpoint communities even within the U.S. should be planning for water and food disruptions.  Prices are so high in the markets, even corporations are starting to promote farmers markets on their premises for their employees.

As with water distribution, food distribution\initiatives along the same line as medicine points of distribution (POD) for pandemics.  I know that China supplies major food staples, and other food items to many African and Middle East nations with many of their products tainted with toxic chemicals.

I know she can reach out to you if she needs any advice.  Let me know if you’d like  ‘reach back’ to me.  Increasing our presence in the United Nations, with some contacts in Cameroon.  I can increase the message traffic on how they’re addressing this and other issues.

Don’t forget to start practicing your French if you’re going to visit.  Hey, I can only do the military versions of any language. 

If only the rules would change for entrance, acceptance, and country assignments for U.S. students to serve in the Peace Corp.  With emergency management training, and their major studies we could send many from the urban and inner city areas to other countries to get the experience.  Imagine what 50 students from every state or HBCU like your daughter serve.  Wow.

She’ll come back ready for a UN, or Department of State post.



At the Garoua Regional Hospital’s Paediatric Feeding Centre in northern Cameroon, Aicha Ahidjo* is relieved to hear that her one-year-old son will survive. The child was suffering from chronic malnutrition, and other children have died of it. It has cost Ahidjo a lot to get her son Ahmadou here. ... MORE > >
Malnutrition Killing Children in Cameroon

A nutritionist assesses the health of a child: red indicates severe malnutrition. Malnutrition has become a growing concern in northern Cameroon. Credit:Kristin Palitza/IPS
YAOUNDE, Jul 22 2013 (IPS) - At the Garoua Regional Hospital’s Paediatric Feeding Centre in northern Cameroon, Aicha Ahidjo* is relieved to hear that her one-year-old son will survive. The child was suffering from chronic malnutrition, and other children have died of it.
It has cost Ahidjo a lot to get her son Ahmadou here. Ahmadou showed symptoms of swollen feet and dry and thinning hair. The 30-year-old mother was forced to defy her husband and bring their son to hospital. The child had developed Kwashiorkor as a result of severe protein deficiency.
“Some months after the birth of the child, I fell pregnant again,” Ahidjo, who is six months pregnant, tells IPS.
“Infant malnutrition is also due to the fact that very few infants are breastfed exclusively for the first six months after birth,." -- Director of Health Promotion in the Ministry of Health Dr. Sa’a
“I had to wean him, but his father didn’t want me to give him infant formula. He discouraged me from continuing to breastfeed the child and told me to feed him maize porridge and rock salt.” She was powerless to refuse her husband.
“I gave in, but after some time I noticed that the child was tired and his skin was thinning. I spoke to my mother who told me that these were signs of malnutrition,” she explains.
“Against my husband’s advice, I brought the child to hospital. The doctors here told me that I arrived just in time. Thank God.”
Ahmadou is not the only child at the hospital suffering from malnutrition.
In June, the centre’s medical staff registered 31 malnourished children. Six died, one recovered and 21 were transferred to other hospitals. The remaining three children, including Ahmadou, stayed at the hospital for treatment.
Six-year-old Haouwa Aboui* was the last child to die at this centre in June. Her 60-year-old grandmother, Maimouna Aboui*, sits in front of their home, fatigued and despondent.
“There are 16 of us living in this hut and there is not enough food. The little one could not bear the starvation,” Aboui tells IPS. “I was advised to give her water with sugar to give her energy. Her mother and I did that for two weeks. She died the day after we arrived at the hospital.”
According to the most recent study by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS), published in October 2011, 33 percent of under-fives in Cameroon suffer from chronic malnutrition and 14 percent of them are severely malnourished.
The community health division in the Ministry of Public Health believes that malnutrition is closely linked to Cameroon’s complex climate. In parts of the Adamawa, North and Far North Regions – a dry and semi-arid zone – nutritional deterioration is present among a large proportion of Cameroonian children and refugees, according to the ministry.
In addition, the massive displacement of Chadian and Central African Republic refugees has added to the growing number of people unable to access food.
The Far North and North Regions have the highest rate of infant malnutrition in the country because of a lack of food during the lean season, which lasts from mid-June to the end of August. Another contributing factor is the poor variety of foods consumed by the population, such as millet and sorghum.
However, malnutrition is prevalent throughout the country, says Ines Lezama, a nutrition specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Cameroon.
Celine Essengue, a member of local NGO Enfants Cameroun, gave IPS her assessment of the situation: “Cameroon is known to be a food-sufficient country. This means that the country doesn’t need to import food as it produces enough to feed its population. Poverty is preventing the Cameroonian people from having access to a varied and balanced diet.”
Related IPS Articles
·         Tackle Malnutrition Now
According to NIS, 44 percent of children suffering from chronic malnutrition in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community live in Cameroon.
UNICEF estimates that 57,616 children under the age of five are at risk of severe acute malnutrition in the North and Far North regions of the country, and that 145,000 children under the age of five will have stunted growth.
Director of health promotion in the Ministry of Health, known only as Dr. Sa’a, told journalists at a recent briefing that “obesity is also a sign of malnutrition. Infant malnutrition is also due to the fact that very few infants are breastfed exclusively for the first six months after birth.”
UNICEF, in conjunction with the government, works in 19 feeding centres in order to prevent complications.
Dr. Joel Ekobena, a paediatrician at the Garoua district hospital, explains to IPS that they are increasingly working on prevention.
“We educate mothers to recognise the first signs of malnutrition and to take their children as soon as possible for a check-up.”
But access to healthcare also poses a problem: 23 out of 43 health districts in the North and Far North of the country are short of qualified personnel. According to NIS, the two regions have 92 doctors for an overall population of 5.5 million inhabitants.
*Names changed to protect their identity.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Campus Security Act of 1990, as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008

Campus Security Act of 1990, as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008
34 C.F.R. § 668.46 and § 668.41 (latter link is to reporting and disclosure of information)
The Campus Security Act requires colleges to report campus crime statistics and security measures to all students and employees by October 1 of each year. Applicants must receive either a report or a notice of its availability and a brief summary of the report. Timely warnings must go out whenever a threat to students and employees is present for the crimes (listed below) which are reported to local police or campus security authorities. Procedures must be in place on how to issue these notices. Crime statistics must also be given to the U.S. Secretary of Education. Enforcement procedures and policies, as well as crime prevention and education programs must be described in the annual report. The 1992 Higher Education Amendments require a campus sexual assault prevention program. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

NGO Aid Map; International Aid. Sharing data and information

About NGO Aid Map

InterAction and its members, as agents of change, believe in empowering ourselves and others with information to deliver better results for global change. We pool and share data about the work of InterAction members around the world through simple maps. NGO Aid Map gives a picture of international aid that would not exist otherwise.
Data is provided by our members on a voluntary basis, so the map is a partial picture of what our community does. Projects are continuously being added, so we encourage you to visit often to learn more about the work of our members.


  • Make it as easy as possible to share data. If it’s not easy, organizations won’t keep providing information, and there’s little value to a map that never gets updated.
  • Present the data in a way that makes it simple to understand and use. Our site is designed to make it easy to find the information people are looking for, to help them make the decisions they need to make.
  • Make the data open and accessible. We know there are many ways to slice and dice data. That’s why we’ve made it possible to download the data on every page of the site.
  • Collaborate with like-minded organizations also working to make more information available. NGO Aid Map is just one piece of the puzzle. By working with organizations who also see the value in open data, we hope to create a more complete picture of what is happening with foreign aid.


• Explore and learn about NGO projects
• Find new NGO partners
• Download and analyze the data
If you are an InterAction member and would like to contribute data to this map, email us.



Friday, July 12, 2013

House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Key Department of Justice Programs

House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Key Department of Justice Programs

July 12, 2013 – On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) approved the fiscal year 2014 bill that funds Department of Justice (DOJ) programs. The bill funds DOJ at $26.3 billion, a decrease of $720 million (3 percent) from the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.

The bill included $55 million for the Second Chance Act, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (created by the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, or MIOTCRA) received $7.5 million, and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative received $25 million, including funding for a task force on federal corrections spending. The robust funding provided for Justice Reinvestment programs reflects continued congressional support for programs that address rising corrections costs and increasing prison and jail populations.

The bill also provides $75 million for a comprehensive school safety initiative to be developed by the National Institute of Justice.

Committee approval is only the first step in the appropriations process. The appropriations bills must be passed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, as well as the full House and Senate.  The Senate plans to release their fiscal year 2014 CJS appropriations bill later this month.

A funding summary of key programs:

      *Final number after sequestration.

For the subcommittee draft text of the legislation, please visit:

Disparities in Mental Health for Underserved Populations. Trauma, Stress, PTSD July 18, 2013

PRESENTATION TITLE: Disparities in Mental Health for Underserved Populations: Best Practices for Affordable Care

Gail Wyatt, Ph.D

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

Director, Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities

University of California, Los Angeles

Thursday, July 18, 2013
2:00 P.M. - 3:30 P.M.

NIH Campus
Natcher Conference Center, Balcony A
45 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD

About 25 percent of all U.S. adults have a mental illness, and nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime. In her presentation, Dr. Gail Wyatt will discuss mental health disparities, some of the current concerns and best practices to address these disparities, based on her research at the Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities. She will examine the cumulative effects of lifetime trauma and stress in African Americans and Hispanics that is often overlooked and not addressed in mental health systems as we know them now. She will also describe the screener that her research team has developed to identify those at risk for symptoms of Post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, that can be used in future primary care settings.

Dr. Wyatt is a clinical psychologist, board certified sex therapist and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is also director of the UCLA Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities, the Sexual Health Program and the Phodiso Training Project in South Africa. She also serves as associate director of the UCLA AIDS Institute, and directs the HIV/AIDS Translational Training Program. She was a National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) Research Scientist Career Development Awardee for 17 years. Dr. Wyatt has conducted national and international research since 1980, funded by the NIMH, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, state and private foundations. She has received numerous awards and honors for her scientific accomplishments, mentoring, and teaching. Dr. Wyatt has also testified before the United States Congress eight times on issues related to health policy.


There is limited parking on the NIH campus. The closest Metro is Medical Center. Please allow adequate time for security check. The presentation will not be video cast live. It will be available in the NIH video archives and on the NIMHD website after the seminar. Sign language interpreters will be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations to participate should contact Edgar Dews at 301-402-1366 or the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Training Opportunity: July 18th. Smarter Government: Intelligent Law Enforcement & Analytics to Help Keep Communities Safe

Smarter Government: Intelligent Law Enforcement & Analytics to Help Keep Communities Safe

Public Safety agencies are in the midst of a transformation. Cities such as St. Louis are turning analytics into actionable insights, uncovering trends in real time to fight crime and to help keep our communities safe. Despite new technologies, public safety organizations are still challenged to effectively manage the volume and variety of data to improve public safety outcomes. Although challenges remain, the key to safe communities and intelligent law enforcement is grounded in leveraging crime analytics.
Join your peers, GovLoop, and IBM on Thursday, July 18 at our free online training to learn more about the challenges public safety agencies are facing and how new strategies can help fight crime, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. Specifically, participants will:
  • Hear from public sector professionals on the current challenges and lessons learned in Public Safety.
  • Hear from Dr. Rick Rosenfeld, Curators Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri and criminologist in residence at the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department, on how the city of St. Louis used analytics to fight crime, improve safety, and increase productivity.
  • Learn more about Intelligent Law Enforcement Operations and how it applies to your city or state.
  • Leverage the public safety operational and business process lessons learned into other areas of your agency.
...Plus an interactive Q&A session.
Keeping our communities safe is a critical factor in their economic viability. Join us and listen to what some of the greatest crime fighters have in common!

Date: Thursday, July 18, 2013
Time: 2:00-3:00PM ET

Monday, July 8, 2013

One Voice Can Make a Difference

Deaf Employee Is Heard
NIH Mission Statement Is Amended
At the suggestion of a National Eye Institute employee who is deaf, NIH recently amended its official mission statement.

The one-sentence statement had said, “NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”

But because David Rice, a management analyst at NEI since October 2009, felt that his particular disability was not a burden, he wanted to know if NIH director Dr. Francis Collins would be willing to modify the mission statement so as not to offend people who do not consider their disabilities to be burdensome.

Recently, the phrase “the burdens of” was removed from the statement, which now reads, “NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce illness and disability.”

According to Debra Chew, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management, this was a lesson in NIH compassion and responsiveness.

“This was a very important event from a diversity perspective,” said Chew, who arrived at NIH last July. “It shows that an individual employee can raise concerns that Dr. Collins will take seriously and address. I think that’s good. NIH has no wish to have a mission statement that offends people…It just goes to show you that we all have different perspectives.”

NEI’s David Rice objected to NIH’s mission statement and took his concerns to NIH leadership, who ended up agreeing with him.
NEI’s David Rice objected to NIH’s mission statement and took his concerns to NIH leadership, who ended up agreeing with him.
Chew met Rice last fall at a “meet and greet” and mentioned that he had a problem with the mission statement. As she recalls, “He told me, ‘We don’t consider ourselves to be burdens, nor do we consider our disability a burden…Would you ask Dr. Collins to consider a change?’”

Chew broached the issue with Collins, “who was immediately agreeable to a change,” she said. “No one had really looked at [the statement] this way. David really raised a good point.”

Chew took the suggestion to Kim Kirkpatrick, OEODM’s disability program manager, who also chairs NIH’s disability committee. “Once we realized that Dr. Collins was open to a change, we got input from the disability committee on proposed language,” said Chew. Two versions were proposed and the three-word change was adopted.

“This is a symbolic moment for NIH,” said Chew. “It’s really about [Rice’s] courage. He did a great thing for the NIH.”

Rice, who became deaf at age 4, recalls the “grace and integrity” with which his parents dealt with his removal from the school system once he became deaf; they found a school better equipped to handle his needs. “It was the fire that my parents had that led me to want to become an advocate not only for the deaf community but also for all those who have a disability,” he said.

“I know it was not the intent that NIH had [to offend people with disabilities],” Rice continued, “but it could look to some as though, in trying to improve the health and life of American citizens, NIH is only looking for cures to reduce disability because [people with disabilities] are a burden on society. The new mission statement takes out that stigma that we are a burden and conveys the message that NIH’s goal is to reduce illness and disability because it can improve the livelihood of American citizens and not because we are a burden on society.”

Rice said he didn’t think his suggestion had much chance of being taken seriously at first. “To be honest, I did not expect much,” he said. “All I wanted was for them to listen, which they did. Debra told me that she spoke to [NIH principal deputy director] Dr. [Lawrence] Tabak, who wholeheartedly agreed. At that point, once I knew Dr. Tabak was in the picture, I knew that something was going to come of this.

“Let me tell you,” Rice continued, “there was no greater feeling than when Dr. Collins used the new mission statement on Capitol Hill. I take no credit for the new mission statement. All I did was raise questions and concerns. But I felt that my small change made a difference, and that alone is my lifelong goal—making small changes to create big impacts.”

He concluded, “I can only imagine that the change will be a positive one. The biggest reason why NIH was so appealing to me was its ability to be open to change as well as moving forward, a lot quicker than some government agencies do. That is a product of the vision that Dr. Collins has for NIH. But like anyone who has a large responsibility, it is hard to envision everything—that’s where everyone else comes into play. [We can all] make NIH [a] leader in science as well as a great work environment where everyone can feel they are making a small but important impact on the American public.”

Syracuse community builder Brenda Muhammad on the power of storytelling

Brenda Muhammad of Syracuse is a volunteer and community builder who believes in the power of sharing one's personal story to help others. Dennis Nett |
Jennifer L. Owens | Guest columnistBy Jennifer L. Owens | Guest columnist 
on July 05, 2013 at 7:56 AM, updated July 06, 2013 at 8:41 AM
"Some people are born knowing their purpose," said Brenda Muhammad. "Other people, like me, have no clue why they are here. But if I just keep moving I hope that one day I'll figure it out."

Muhammad is always moving. There is no other way to end up with the sizable list of volunteer activities and educational pursuits that she is juggling at any one time. This juggling is what earned her the 2013 Unsung Heroes Award during Syracuse University's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration earlier this year.

How Muhammad has remained 'unsung' for this long is a mystery. She has twice served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer coordinating Women Build at Syracuse Habitat for Humanity, is a key player in the nonprofit FORCE (Focusing Our Resources for Community Enlightenment), and participates in the Black Syracuse Project to capture community stories.

She describes her life as a journey to discover her true purpose. Along her path, she has channeled her interests and community engagement activities to become a connection-maker. She sees value in sharing the things that she learns with her community.

This makes her well-suited for her role in FORCE, a nonprofit that combats neighborhood deterioration by inspiring residents to pool their resources to improve their condition. She sees opportunity to further the work of FORCE by sharing the oral history collection techniques she learned through the Black Syracuse Project training. 

Muhammad believes that sharing our stories with each other strengthens connections and promotes healing.

"We need to know about hard times, and we need to know about success stories," said Muhammad. "When you tell that story others can relate to you. They learn that there is hope."

Muhammad believes that there is a desire to be known and acknowledged that is hard-wired within us. She is drawn to oral history and storytelling as a way to give others the opportunity to satisfy this basic need.

"Sometimes telling your story is part of a healing process," she said. "Somebody has to hear me. What if no one knew you were alive?"

Telling the story is good for the storyteller, but it is also a tool for improving the lives of those who hear your story. "People can relate to your story," said Muhammad. "Sometimes you think that you are alone in something, but then you find out about connections."

The more connections that Muhammad and others facilitate through the Black Syracuse Project's initiatives, the more opportunity there will be for community members to identify opportunities to work together toward neighborhood improvement.

Muhammad is not one to remain still. She keeps moving, always looking for the next opportunity to expand her skills and serve her community. She is currently pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Study in Cultural Heritage Preservation at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, as well as studies at SUNY Empire State College. She hopes to intern for the Black Syracuse Project in the near future to continue making the connections that she believes make a difference.

Despite her energy and palpable enthusiasm, even she sometimes wonders about the limits of any one person.

"I had a motto, and I haven't said it in a long time," Muhammad says wistfully. "I don't know if that's because I stopped believing it or I'm just too tired to think it. I used to always say, 'I shall not be conquered.' I thought I could do anything. But right about now I'm a little close to that conquered."

Despite these moments of doubt, she is propelled forward by the support of her friends and family. They know that she can make a difference and encourage her to explore new paths in her quest to find her life's purpose.

"My friends are amazing. They don't discourage me from trying anything," said Muhammad. "Sometimes I wish they would!"

In the end, Muhammad believes each of us has something we are meant to give to others. It can be both a burden and our life's greatest joy to figure out what that is; to tirelessly make connections, to tell our stories past and present, and to keep on moving.

To learn more about the Black Syracuse Project and listen to oral history recordings captured by through the project, visit


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