I’ve always been grateful for people who go above and beyond and have a heart for helping others. As a child I experienced abandonment by my biological mother and sexual abuse by my father. I was raised primarily by my paternal grandmother who instilled certain core values into me that have guided my life. My grandmother encouraged my activities in school, church and community and because of the various activities I was involved with, I became a “product of the community.” As I worked in the community, the community sowed back into my life. Many people went above and beyond to help me, and they became the PLUS in my life.
As I grew and overcame many of the challenges of my childhood, I was often asked how did I do it? I didn’t really understand what people meant or why they were even asking me the question, but as I continued my path it became apparent to me the role forgiveness played in my life. This was the motivation for me starting the organization called, Forgiving For Living, Inc., in 1999. Although we’ve been around for close to twenty years, the PLUS Awards has only been around for twelve years. It is our desire to bring attention and highlight the work of people in the community that are committed to making our community a better place. They represent the PLUS. We also give out scholarships to deserving young ladies who desire to advance their education after high school. Over the past twelve years we’ve honored close to seventy-five individuals and have given out close to $100,000.00 in scholarships!
This year Forgiving For Living, Inc., has six individuals we are honoring that have exhibited the plus in their lives by helping others and making a positive impact. The Honorable Diane Watson will receive the President’s Award. Ms. Watson is a pioneer in opening doors for women and girls across Los Angeles and across the world in the area of politics. She has been the first and broke barriers that women continue to walk through to this day. Lisa Collins, publisher of LA Focus Newspaper has been committed to making sure the community is enlightened and informed on what is happening in the faith-based community for close to a quarter of a century and she gives women and girls the opportunity to be exposed to the world of publishing. Chief Richard Fields has been serving as a Los Angeles firefighter and paramedic for close to 25 years and was one of 25 firefighters from his department that immediately responded to “Ground Zero.” Kat Connolly, is a political consultant that has been helping politicians and community leaders make thoughtful decisions for over 20 years. Tera Hilliard, President of Forgotten Children, Inc., has been on the battlefield making sure our children are not forgotten and are given the resources and help they need and deserve for a better life. Finally, Kandee Lewis, executive director, The Positive Results Corporation aims to prevent and ultimately end domestic violence.
This year we will continue in our tradition of giving scholarships. Six deserving young ladies graduating from high school will receive money to help them on their journey. Anika Rahotep from Hamilton, Kortni Washington from Eleanor Roosevelt, Milani Noel White from Crenshaw, Nia Williams from Richard Gahr, Raeje Bryant from Lawndale and Victoria Simplis from South High School. A mind is a terrible thing to waste and Forgiving For Living, Inc., is committed to doing our part in the vineyard where we are planted. I encourage you to think about who you can sow into and be the PLUS in their life? Together we can make a lasting difference.
Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on!