What brings me hope

Supporting community agents of change

Felicia Gilyard (front left in white shirt) and members of the Princess Marlacia Chanel Kitchen Foundation at Cascades Park.
Photo submitted

By Rosalind Tompkins
Special to the Outlook

On Oct. 24, I was excited to be invited to Cascades Park to meet two women that are stepping up and making a difference in their communities. Inherently I know the transformative power of grassroots community-based organizations because of the work that I’ve done with Mothers In Crisis throughout the years impacting tens of thousands of families.

Felicia Gilyard is the grandmother of 17-year-old Marlacia “Laci” Kitchen who was shot 10 times in a car and killed outside of the Savoy apartment complex in Southwood on Oct. 24, 2022. It had been exactly one year, and Ms. Gilyard said that she organized a walk at Cascades Park to commemorate Laci’s life by doing something that Laci loved to do, walk around the park. 

Ms. Gilyard created the Princess Marlacia Chanel Kitchen Foundation whose mission is, and I quote, “Fighting Against Gun Violence,” to reach out to hurting people and promote love, healing, and fellowship. When I asked Felicia what brought her hope, she said that she believes that her granddaughter made it to heaven, and that she would see her one day. 

Natalie Bush Harley, who lives in Gadsden County, attended the walk in support of Ms. Gilyard’s mission and organization. She stated that she was very excited because she had just incorporated her organization, SODA which stands for Survivor of Domestic Abuse North Florida, Inc., on that day. When I asked her why she started SODA she said, “I cannot keep silent.” She then went on to tell me about her personal experience with domestic violence.

Ms. Harley told me that after dating her husband for two years she married him only to divorce him six months later after experiencing verbal and physical abuse. She stated that as she reached out for help, she realized that there were gaps in services that needed to be filled. Sixteen months later she organized a gala for domestic violence through her event planning business and it hit her that she needed to start an organization to reach out to other women who are victims of domestic violence. When I asked Natalie what brings her hope she said, “Ministering life and hope to someone else to let them know that they can make it out if they choose life.”

Rosalind Tompkins, Ph.D., is author of “As Long As There Is Breath In Your Body, There Is Still Hope,” and other inspirational books. Tompkins is also founder of Turning Point International Church, the Chapel of Mothers In Crisis. She’s also founder of Turning Point International Alliance with ministries and churches in Pakistan, Nepal, Eswatini, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, and St. Vincent in the West Indies. 

 


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