Wellness, Resilience and Recovery: Black History Month Event Reflection

On Saturday January 27th, BHRS’ African American Community Initiative (AACI) hosted their 2018 Black History Month event and health fair.  The theme was Wellness, Resilience and Recovery, with the purpose of empowering the community to take charge of their wellness and recovery using the resilience inside us all, and to celebrate Black History Month.  This year’s event was held in San Mateo at the Martin Luther King Junior Community Center. The event was enjoyed by over 70 people consisting of community members/partners, Health System staff, and consumers.  Over thirty plus community agencies provided information and materials on their services.  

The co-chairs of AACI, Tennille Tucker and Talisha Racy co the hosted the event  with Ms. Tucker leading the singing of the National Black Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.  Opening remarks were provided by Carole Groom of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, David Young, the San Mateo County Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and Rick Bonilla, the Mayor of the City of San Mateo.  Invocation was provided by Elder Alvin Swindell, the Pastor of Macedonia Church of God and Christ.

There was a moving Lived Experience presentation given by LaShondra Goode, a women’s counselor and student on her personal and extraordinary experience with addiction, metal health and her recovery journey.  Shannon Moore-Langston, MD, JD gave a very eye opening and informative presentation about the nature of addiction, mental health and the African American experience with these conditions. 

Another highlight of the event was the Substance Use and Suicide Photovoice Project presentation facilitated by Siavash Zohoori of the Office of Diversity and Equity.  The presentation featured a panel of Photovoice creators, Desirae Miller, Dupree Hunter, Jessica Woods-Torlowei and Moses Syme on their experiences with suicide, substance abuse and self- empowerment.  

The event was topped off by inspirational musical performances by singer Jeremy Brooks and the drumming ensemble Akoma Arts, a wonderful soul food lunch provided by Joanne Wright of East Palo Alto and blessed by Reverend Mary Frazier.  Lunch was complemented by an artful presentation created by the children who attended the event and wonderful raffles prizes including gift cards and 49er tickets!

 AACI thanks the Martin Luther King Center, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Guest Speakers, and the Photo Voice Participants.  Last but not least a big Thank You to our consumers, community partners, Dr. Jei Africa/ Office of Diversity and Equity staff, and AACI members for their support with making the event successful.  We look forward to hosting another Black History Month Event next year!

Written by Chyvonne S. Washington, AACI Member