On Memorial Day – To Love, Honor and Cherish

single-red-roseDear Readers,

I recently came across two photographs that many military and veteran’s wives share with each other as Memorial Day comes near.

Captured by photographer Todd Heisler for his 2005 award-winning series “Jim Comes Home” for The Rocky Mountain News, these photos show the return of Second Lieutenant Jim Cathey, a Marine who lost his life in Iraq, as his young widow Katherine Cathey, prepares for his burial.

In the first photo Mrs. Cathey, who is pregnant, spends the night before his burial in front of his casket. She has a laptop so she can listen to songs that remind her of her husband. A Marine stands guard over both of them.

In the second photo we see Lieutenant Cathey’s casket being unloaded from the cargo hold of an airplane. We also see the faces of the passengers as they peer through the window.

No words could ever take away this painful moment in Mrs. Cathey’s life. How many women (and men) have experienced this devastating loss? How many more will there be?

Brooklyn Legends salutes the women and men who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credit
As Memorial Day Nears, a Single Image That Continues to Haunt, Lily Burana, The New York Times, May 25, 2012

With Gratitude – A Memorial Day Salute

Dear Readers,

On Monday, May 25th we will proudly celebrate another Memorial Day. There will be special programs honoring the women and men who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

As we honor our fallen heroes, I would like to salute the women and men who are presently in the armed services. Soon they will return home eager to pick up their lives from the point where they left off. While this will be a seamless transition for some, others will be forced to navigate challenges their fellow Americans now face — unaffordable housing, inadequate heath care and low wages. Sadly many veterans may not be able to make ends meet and could end up homeless. They could also face serious physical and emotional health challenges that will impact them for years to come.

I do not claim to have the answer for these problems, but I firmly believe our unwillingness to acknowledge them is a major impediment. Annual celebrations are wonderful for they allow us to connect with each other, but they are not the answer. What happens once the music stops? How many veterans will be able to say, I must now go home and prepare for work tomorrow?

On Monday, when we greet each other with a cheerful “Happy Memorial Day” let’s keep in mind this sentiment will have a different meaning for many of our veterans. We must honor and cherish our heroes who are no longer with us and those who are after long after Memorial Day is over.

To the women and men who have given their lives to protect America, we cherish you. To the brave women and men who return home, to take their rightful place in society, we salute you and we thank you for your service.

Fondly,

Monique

As I Embrace My Second Act

IMG_1879Dear Readers,

It is truly a pleasure to be able to connect with you again. It has been a while since my last post, and I have missed connecting with you. April proved to be busier than I could have ever imagined as I embraced the winds of change and started a new career. It gives me great joy to embark upon my new position with the Central Park Conservancy. This was truly one of those times in my life where I can say, I was ready for change. My previous career served me well, and prepared me for what is to come.

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is to walk out and experience Central Park, which is truly one of America’s most beautiful urban parks. It is an even greater honor to be a member of the hardworking team of professionals dedicated to ensuring the Park is around for future generations.

As I make the transition from planning events for donors — to working more closely with donors — I view this as one of my long-awaited second acts. I will admit that it has taken me a minute to catch my breath, but this is a good time in my life.  Here are some photos from one of my recent visits to the Park.

Thank you for your patience. While the photos featured here are from Manhattan, you can rest assured that Brooklyn Legends has so much more to share with you. I am excited about the future.

Fondly,

Monique

Celebrating Easter – A Time of Hope and Renewal

Dear Readers,

Aeroflora2india.com

As I write this, Christians around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday.  However, I pause to remember our sisters and brothers who, in many countries, are still persecuted for their beliefs.  How fortunate are we, in America, to have such great freedoms.

I was raised in a Christian home by maternal grandparents who were Catholic. As a rule, I was never allowed to be intolerant of my friends whose religious beliefs were different from mine.  That all important “rule” guides my behavior to this day.

images-2 - coronadoumc.orgYes, I celebrate Easter with a glad heart and have come to view it as a personal time of hope, renewal and new life.

Yes, I have friends who do not celebrate Easter and I love them just the same.  Why would I do anything else?  At the end of the day, isn’t this what life is all about?

I came across a quote about Easter from Henry Knox Sherrill that I would like to share with you.

The joyful news that He is risen, does not change the contemporary world.  Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice.  But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline and make the sacrifice.

Let’s continue to encourage each other on our journey through life.

Peace and Blessings,

Monique

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Credits:
Quote – Henry Knox Sherrill
Floral arrangement #1 – Aeroflora2india.com
Floral arrangement #2 – Coronadoumc.org

Saluting Women’s History Month & Dr. Josephine English

Dear Readers,

We are pleased to join the world in celebrating Women’s History Month. Sharing the important contributions of Brooklyn women from the African diaspora, and the accomplishments of women throughout the world, has motivated me to look for ways to make an impact on young ladies in my community.  What will be my legacy for the future?  How can I engage others?

Dr. Josephine English - NY Dailynews.com

Dr. Josephine English – NY Dailynews.com

Today I am pleased to tell you about the historical achievements of Dr. Josephine English – one of the first African-American women to have an OB/GYN practice in New York and one of Brooklyn’s earliest medical pioneers.

Dr. English was a tireless community leader, patron of the arts and philanthropist.  Most important of all, she was a wonderful mother to her children, and earned a reputation as a highly coveted OB/GYN to Brooklyn residents and notables, including Dr. Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X.

Dr.English's home - via www.ohny.org

Dr.English’s home – via http://www.ohny.org

Dr. English was born on December 17, 1920, in Virginia, and she died on December 18, 2011 in Brooklyn, NY, one day after her 91st birthday.  Although she lived in Bedford Stuyvesant for many years, she would spend her last days at the Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, where she was recovering after undergoing a surgical procedure.

Dr. Susan McKinney via Blackpast.org

Dr. Susan McKinney via Blackpast.org

As I was preparing this post, I wondered wouldn’t it be great if Dr. English had an opportunity to meet Dr. McKinney? Picture a room where Dr. English, a recent graduate from Meharry Medical College who was now living in Brooklyn, could sit and talk with Dr. McKinney, the esteemed Brooklyn native who was the first African-American woman to earn an MD degree in New York State and the third woman to earn an MD degree in the United States.  Can you just imagine the stories they would share?  As medical pioneers with their own series of “firsts,” in addition to their personal and professional triumphs and challenges, I envision a conversation filled with many “aha” moments.

Dr. English spent her childhood years in New Jersey.  Her parents were among the first African-American families to settle in Englewood.  She received a B.A. from Hunter College in 1939 and continued her education at New York University where she received a M.A. in Psychology.  After NYU, she attended Meharry Medical College and received her M.D. in 1949.  Dr. English was ready to make her mark on the world.  Her first stop was Harlem Hospital, where she worked for many years until she moved to Brooklyn in 1956.

Dr. English was a trailblazer who reached back to help others who were in need.  She was among our borough’s earliest women philanthropists who championed the importance of health care for women, men and children.  Shortly after moving to Brooklyn, she founded a Women’s Community Health Clinic in Bushwick.  In 1979, she founded the Adelphi Medical Center which provided services for women and men.

On stage at the Paul Robeson Theater via - www.northjersey.com

On stage at the Paul Robeson Theater via – http://www.northjersey.com

Dr. English loved the theater and she was determined to share her passion for the arts with the community.  In 1980, decades after opening many medical clinics, she purchased an abandoned church and converted it to the Paul Robeson Theater for the Performing Arts.

One year later, in 1981, Dr. English turned her sights to services for children and opened Up The Ladder Day Care and After-School Program which included a summer day camp.  In 1986, she became the first minority, and the first woman, to be awarded a license from the New York State Department of Health to develop a free-standing ambulatory surgical center in Brooklyn.

Dr. English worked well beyond what was considered to be retirement age.  She focused intently on her goals and did not let anything stand in her way.  She changed the health-care landscape for women, men and families, in Brooklyn by providing access to health education and empowering her patients to make healthy life-style choices.  She was a guiding force in Brooklyn and one of our brightest stars.  Her achievements are legendary and it is an honor to salute her.

Dr. English will be truly missed.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credits:
Josephine English, one of the first back, female OB/GYNs not stopping at 89 – nydailynews.com
Dr. Josephine English, 91 via Northjersey.com
Dr. Josephine English, Medical Trailblazer dies at 91 – via www1.cuny.edu
Dr. Josephine English, The HistoryMakers via http://www.thehistorymakers.com

We Celebrate Women’s History Month and Empower Young Women & Girls

Video

Dear Readers,

As we continue to applaud the achievements of women around the globe, we must embrace young women and girls as they make their way in the world.

Despite our “busyness” we must advocate for needs of our younger sisters as often, and as loudly, as we can.  Our commitment to empowering the next generation is truly a collaborative effort — one that will require great resources if we are to succeed.  This endeavor is not without its challenges, but I am confident that we can do this.

Leymah Gbowee - via Mic.com

Leymah Gbowee – via Mic.com

I opened today’s post with a video by Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, who shares the story of her personal transformation and implores us to find ways to unlock the untapped potential of girls.  If you are reading this post on your smart phone or table, and cannot see the video, please follow this link to the Ted Talks website. Once there, type Leymah Gbowee into the site’s search engine.

Here is a brief overview of Ms. Gbowee’s amazing achievements from Mic.com.

Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee was sick of enduring the civil war that had been ravaging her country since 1999. Using her education in peace studies and in collaboration with the organization Women in Peacebuilding Network, Gbowee led a mass women’s movement of peaceful protests and strikes. The group also enacted a now-infamous sex strike, in which many Liberian women refused to sleep with their partners until peace was achieved.

The movement culminated in Gbowee and her comrades daringly holding the delegates responsible for peace talks hostage until they reached an agreement. Harnessing the power of women banning together and the tactic of peace, Gbowee successfully helped bring the Second Liberian Civil War to an end in 2003. “It’s time for women to stop being politely angry,” Gbowee once said.  Thankfully, Gbowee continues to lead by example and loudly continues to demand justice, through writing, speaking and her work with the Gbowee Peace Foundation.

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join with the Gbowee Peace Foundation, and organizations world-wide, in advancing the cause of women and girls. We hope that you will join us in this endeavor.  There is plenty of work to do.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credits:
50 Years From Now, Here Are the Trailblazing Women We’ll Be Celebrating as Poineers – via Mic.com
Leymah Gordon’s speech – Unlock the Intelligence of Women and Girls – via Ted.com

Celebrating Women & Cracking the Confidence Code

Dear Readers,

Women throughout the world have made tremendous personal and professional accomplishments.  As leaders in our homes and in our communities, in business and industry, we continue to emerge as trail blazers and change agents.

Yet, in spite of all that we have achieved, many statisticians confirm we have a long way to go before achieving parity with our male counterparts.

In May 2014, The Atlantic Magazine published The Confidence Gap; a poignant article written by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, that gives key reasons why women do not ascend to executive leadership status at the same rate as men.

IMG_0162

In The Atlantic Magazine article, Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman share the following insights:

And yet, as we’ve worked, ever diligent, the men around us have continued to get promoted faster and be paid more.  The statistics are well-known: at the top, especially, women are nearly absent, and our numbers are barely increasing.  Half a century since women first forced open the boardroom doors, our career trajectories still look very different from men’s.

Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men— and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.

Despite our achievements, we often resist owning just how great we are. When I was growing up, it was seen as “inappropriate” for girls and women to be seen and noticed.  Such behavior was considered to be brash and arrogant.  As a result I, and countless girls and women, had to navigate the world with fear and trepidation.  There were times when I felt obligated to downplay who I was, and apologize for the ideals I held.

IMG_0161When you have a moment, I encourage you to read the entire article by following this link.  At the start of today’s post, I included a brief video of our author’s conversation about The Confidence Code.

Please remember that we love hearing from you and would love to know what you think.

Fondly,
Monique
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Credits:
The Confidence Gap – The Atlantic Magazine, May 2014
The Confidence Code by Kitty Kay and Claire Shipman