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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 205

May is a time for so many things – none more important than Mothers’ Day and Mental Health Awareness

Mothers’ Day is an international celebration that Ann Marie Jarvis is credited with starting. Celebrated on the second Sunday of May to commemorate the passing of her own mother, by all accounts, Jarvis wanted the day to be useful! However, the swift move into commercialization drove her (and countless others) to hate it for all of the reasons. 

At first glance, it may seem the connection from Mothers’ Day to mental health is nonexistent. But it is important to understand that, very much like the high holy holidays of the Fall, Mothers’ Day is fraught with a cornucopia of emotion. New mothers feel the stress of transitioning into motherhood and need support to cope. Some may be overcome with the grief of losing their mother. Those with strained relationships may be triggered by the celebratory bent. Those dealing with a mother or child and substance abuse the weight is heavy! In point of fact, Jarvis herself died penniless in a sanitarium after a battle with dementia

So we are taking this opportunity to share some tips and tricks to achieve and preserve mental wellness. Learn with us as we talk “Get Ya Mind Right!” with our featured speakers:



Casey Phillips: Good morning. Welcome to 100 Friday. When we first were getting to know our friend Manny, Manny, from time to time, we would have local, little changes around the vernacular, and stuff like that, as you got to adapt to the culture, but I can tell you, If we're looking to make official stamps I would say that you were a dual citizen  of the of the wonderful, great city of New York and also Baton Rouge, Indiana, my friend. So welcome. And  as I said thanks for everything you do, including fundraising on your own for youth summer programs in Baton Rouge which is more, I'm not saying this as anybody, everybody on this call does amazing work, but the fact that you did that from New York is in Baton Rouge this summer. 

But I appreciate you, and thank you for joining us in Peppa. What's up, Peppa? What we got today?  

Pepper Roussel: It is a fine Friday morning. Thank y'all, One Rouge, and good morning. We appreciate you being here. Oh, Flitcher Bell has decided to grace us with his presence. I don't know how to behave. And Morgan's here. Fantastic. I can tell her thank you. So we are having a discussion on this Friday preceding Mother's Day to talk about mental health in a way that maybe we haven't quite considered it. It is a bit of a cornucopia of emotions, very much like the just like the high holy holidays of Thanksgiving and  Christmas and New Year's and everything else that we celebrate that I don't know, what are there 17 different holidays that happen in December? And the thing is that not everybody has a great Mother's Day. Some of us lean towards the commercial end of things, where we are already out purchasing flowers and cards. Even the woman who created it was really enraged by the idea that we would make it such a commercial event as opposed to celebrating and honoring the things that mothers do on a regular basis. And I want to spend a couple of minutes on this fine Friday chit chatting. About how it is that we can not only move into spaces where we are respecting ourselves and giving, what a picture, where we are respecting ourselves and making sure that we have provided each, ourselves what it is that we need, but also honoring the relationship that we have with mother. And that said, Where'd you go?  Daffaney Webster's your face is still here, but you're gone. Okay. 

Daffaney Webster: I was, the zoom, the camera pictures and stuff can be hit it, first thing in the morning, but good morning to everyone. I'm Daffaney Webster, Jenkins Webster.  And I'm going to follow the instructions of today. I think we had to introduce ourselves here again. I'm Daffaney Jenkins Webster. I am a  psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. I am a provider here in the community.  My background. I worked for the state of Louisiana for the Louisiana  Behavioral Health Department for 15 years. I started out at the mental health hospital in Jackson, Louisiana. If you all are familiar with that area, and then I merged into forensic psychiatry with the state and I worked in New Orleans with the Jefferson and Orleans Parish court. Where we dealt with people that were not guilty by reason of insanity, we did competency evaluations, competency restorations, for those who were pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. So I did that for 15 years for the state. So now I am a provider. I work in West Baton Rouge providing behavior health care. And just recently I opened my own clinic here in North Baton Rouge. SMAG. Dead middle of plank road. So we had our self opening last week. So we will be providing behavior health services, substance abuse services right here in Baton Rouge and the North Baton Rouge area. 

Pepper: All right, my love, you have lots of time left. So tell us about the work that you do, how it's impacting, not only how it is what you do is showing up to help your clients, but more importantly, this move from, forensic psychiatry sounds fascinating. Tell us that.  

Daffaney: To start off  with my work, I, we started, we have a nonprofit as well, it's called reflection of the green leaf. And some of y'all are familiar with that organization. We was founded in 2018 where we decided to integrate mental health and Art creativity. So we started doing the arts market at the guru. So we have it every year at the guru permanent health awareness month, where most of our artists, have relate some relation to mental health. Some of them may be diagnosed with mental health or caretakers of those that have mental health concerns. So we have a market, we teach them financial literacy, how to. Be social interactive because a lot of people have social anxiety. We have, other organizations that have resources for mental health. Actually, that event is going to be June 2nd. We started out like that.  Somewhere down the line in 2020, COVID, we got our first grant from the Art Council of Greater Baton Rouge and the Metro and the Mayor, Metro Council Board, where we wrote a pilot program. For polymer clay, we went into East Baton Rouge Parish Jail, and we implemented that program with the female population that has a due diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse. So basically, we went in there to just teach them different coping mechanism kinetic modality how to deal with their stress and their anxiety, and also teach them a trade of how to create once they're released from 

Pepper: Wait. I don't know what a kinetic modality is. What is this? 

Daffaney: So a kinetic modality or tactile modality is you know, when you deal with polymer clay it is hands on  so kinetic is touch tactile is feel so There is a tendency to when you just like with a stress ball, you have a stress ball, it helps you with your anxiety in the moment So when you have kinetic like polymer clay the texture of it is really soothing and you also get you also able to create so it distracts your mind It does something to your serotonin level does something to your dopamine level And you're able to you know give yourself a soothing as you create with your depression and your anxiety So we decided to implement that program in ebr. And we did it during COVID it was hectic as I don't know what because they was closing the jail down so we had to stop and we had to start back but we eventually finished the program. We're getting ready to go back in there. This fall, and we're going to be implementing that project again but we're partnering with the YWCA,  hopefully with CJCC. Hopefully with the walls project because Morgan is actually our instructor for that project. And we're going to create a diversion program for those that are released from incarceration. We will, provide them the transportation. We will also service them with their mental health because we have the clinic right there on plank road. It's a process that's going on. As far as my practice, I diagnose and treat. So I diagnose, I do psychiatric evaluations, I do medication management, I do mindfulness body scans. So it just so happened that those, both of those programs integrate. So they are sisters of each other. Okay. So that's where, that's how we work. We want to really dive into reentry  as well as service in the community in the North Baton Rouge area. So I'm pretty sure. There's a ton of us on this meeting that we can all collaborate together because I think that was a part of the question. How could we help with the coalition. 

Pepper: Oh,  that's fantastic. Thank you so much. Yeah, I was actually I find it. I don't know. It's almost suspicious that That the hyphenated names are banning together, so that Morgan Miller Udoh introduced us to Daffaney Jenkins Webster. And we also have Donna. Donna, you got a hyphenated name too? What's your last name? You got two. Johnson.  See, you know what? Y'all make me want a hyphenated name. Ha. I don't. Anyway that's a longer story. We'll talk over drinks. Thank you, ma'am. I know you've got to leave 9:15, so we're going to keep an eye on the clock so that we can get some questions to you before you've got to jump 9:15, somewhere in that neighborhood. But Dr. Johnson, if you would not mind letting us know who you are, what you do, and how we can be involved in all that. We'd appreciate it. Your five minutes starts now.  

Dr. Donna Johnson: Thank you. Thank y'all for having me. Thank you, Ms. Tia, for inviting me.  As she mentioned, my name is Dr. Donna Barnes Johnson. I'm a clinical mental health counselor. I'm a licensed professional counselor in the state of Louisiana and in the state of Texas. I have been licensed for 4 years, but I have been practicing what I have experienced in the counseling field for over 10 years. I started off in mental health rehabilitation going into the houses and then into the schools to provide treatment and teaching skills. So that's where the bulk of my experience ranged from. While I was in school, I did that for about 4 years. I met a wonderful lady named Dr. Susan Thornton, and she actually pushed me to go back to school to obtain another master's, but this time I obtained a clinical mental health counselor, and then that's how I became licensed as a licensed professional counselor. I have my own private practice gracefully purpose counseling and consulting located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana up in Sherwood. I provide mental health services to kids and adults starting at age five and up. My practice does not prescribe any medication. I just provide the assessment, diagnosis, treatment plan, and do the services. Right now, I am a one man show so it's just me. In the future, my goal is to have employees. So I can expand and also I want to become get out the office a little bit worse So I can do some motivational speaking. So that's my biggest thing. I love To speak and empower people, so sometimes I have events on the outside of my business to where I can empower women. My goal is to eventually get into doing some groups because I feel like adolescents and adults need some groups to help support them. I just haven't configured out how the schedule will work because I work from 8 to 5. That's some of my goals. I'm hoping that I could meet some great people in the coalition. This is my first time actually hearing of it. So again, I'm proud to be here and to learn more about the coalition and how I could be of assistance and y'all could be of assistance as well.  

Pepper: That is fantastic. So I do have a couple of questions, but I want to open them to both. And we're going to find out in a second, maybe Khary as well. Don't go anywhere. We are going to table your five, two minutes and come back to that. Khary Wilson. If you, there you are. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it. Please let us know who you are, what you do, how we can be involved. Your five minutes starts now. 

Dr. Khary Wilson: Okay. Hello. My name is Dr. Khary Wilson. I am a doctoral of musical arts. I am also an opera singer. So I create, I have part of most half of my living as an opera singer. The other half as a professor. I'm a professor. This is my first year teaching as a professor at Southern. However, I've taught at several universities throughout the United States before beforehand. And I also have a private prior teach private voice lessons and I am a spiritualist, so a part of my, of what I do when I teach is I use intuitive teaching and then, and my intuitive skills in order to get the results that I need to get from, from students and to talk to them, I'm meditation Shagon other types of practices. I practice those and I use those breathing techniques, those types of things in my practice. I also work very closely with a nonprofit organization called the out of the box center here in Baton Rouge. It is an LGBTQ friendly Space. It's just a space in Scotlandville. And we there we offer services as far as we offer discussions that we meet weekly. We offer, we, we have prom, we have, retreat, but we also have talked about things that are concerning the LGBT community. So I work closely with both of them and this is pretty awesome because, knowing that the the amount of mental health providers in the area, that's absolutely great, just to to meet with you all and, and to come together just to know that no more faces than I have not seen before as we move through this As we move through this thing called life. So I'm so grateful to be here. 

Pepper: I'm not accustomed to having people that actually in the earlier on time, but we're about to fill the time. For those of you who have questions, the drill, drop them in the chat. I have a couple off the top of my head. So Dr. Wilson, yes, there is a guy on the social media web. Who does hip opera, tell us what is the advantage of doing not pro but presentations, right? Entertaining folks in a way that combines things that are so very different.  

Dr. Khary: I'm going to be, I'm going to say this. I'm going to say I have done shows for children. I'm actually getting ready to go do a music festival in South Carolina. And I'm going to say that when you get to people and you work with people on their level, and you making these presentations and you make it accessible, then you create fans. Not only do you create play bands, you bring people in who might not have normally wanted to be there and might have, and then you get to actually pour into them, through your your gifts, but also, into getting plugged in into, what's going on around them. There's lots of ways to be involved in opera and be involved in creativity. And you just basically creating avenues for people.  

Pepper: Thank you. And this is for all three of you. So I respect that deeply that you are meeting people, each one of you is meeting folks where they are, right? So the idea is certainly not, especially for somebody who needs assistance is certainly not to have them try to travel mentally farther than they are capable of going. The things that y'all are doing, though, sound well, let me back up to a half a step last week. We talked about summer programs this week, as we are talking about how it is that y'all are providing not only the services, but is this an all year round kind of thing? Is this a short term? Please each one of you in turn, just let us know how it is that you are providing these services where you are meeting folks where they are in what timeframes are those available. 

Dr. Johnson: I can start. So this is Dr. Johnson. So for me, I am year round. I take the holidays. But other than that, I'm usually seeing clients and I offer telehealth as well as in person sessions. I have some people in New Orleans. And like I said, I'm licensed in Texas as well. So I offer telehealth sessions. For individuals who are not in close proximity, they cannot make it to my office and I try to be more flexible  with my time. But if it's outside of 8 to 5, then I do refer out to someone that might have a later time available.

Daffaney: Good morning. This is Daffaney Webster. I chime in next. So basically I think the question was how do we provide our services? How do we reach our population? So right now I am. I'm already a provider and typically I just when I go into a restaurant to eat lunch, I'll be there. I'll leave my business card. I'm like, do y'all have any family members that may need mental health services? To be honest with you It is challenging for a lot of people in our community to even receive behavioral health services, especially if they have medicaid, okay  so right now to be honest with you. My schedule is already scheduled I'm scheduling for july august and it's just what may so basically I just, make sure that I'm available, however I can be, whether it's coming to you whether it's coming to corporate corporate organizations to do behavior health services there. For instance, I have a personal trainer, there may be some individuals there that may have eating disorders and I may need to see them there. So I'll go to that corporation and see those individuals at that place. I also do telehealth services as well as in person and my office is on Plank Road. My I don't work on Mondays and Tuesdays, but Thursdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays in the evening, I take my last appointment like at eight o'clock and on Fridays and Saturdays, I'm available from eight to four thirty. 8 to 430. So basically I just get referrals from other providers, psychologists, other psychiatrists that can't fit people, patients and they will refer them out to psychiatric nurse practitioners. I do have a website they can go and my number, my fax number is on there. So that's basically how I reach my audience.

Pepper:  All right, Dr. Wilson, before you chime in, Daffaney, would you mind dropping that information in the chat for us? 

Daffaney: Sure. I will. Thank you.  

Dr. Khary: Okay working with the Capital Area Reentry Program with CARP and the Out of the Box Center, they're open from 11 o'clock to 8 o'clock on Tuesday through through Friday. Now, you can, it's a space that you can rent if you need, you can, you can use, the community can use it as they want. If they, if you want to have an event or hold meetings or do something, you can call up and talk to Bobby Graves. over there and he'll be able to get you in touch with what, know exactly what you need to know as far as that. Now, there are some things, some events that happen outside as far as testing events that happen. Also, there's the out of the box discussions that meet from Tuesdays and Thursdays from seven to nine. So there are some later hours. We have we try to, it's a safe space. It's a community center and is there for the community to use as they need. But the hours of operation are from 11 to 8. Capital reentry program as well as the Outer Box Center also has the needle exchange program. It's one of the few people here in Baton Rouge who have a needle exchange program. It's like in Louisiana, state of Louisiana, I think there's two all together. So we have the needle exchange program where we offer goods and services to the area, but also remotely towards people all over the place and all over in the Baton Rouge. And it's, we also are getting ready to start services providing starting providing services, including mental health services to LGBT youth and young people and providing the services of if people who are living with HIV, for example, can get Benefits from the grants that we as far as bills paid and things of that nature. So we would carry a capital area reentry program and the outer box centers really doing an amazing job with securing funds and being able and having the things, the unique opportunities for, connection with people that other places are not providing. So it's, I'm just grateful for that. 

Pepper: As am I, and I just heard about it 10 seconds ago. So thank you for that. I really appreciate it. We got a question over here on the chat before everything starts flooding in. I want to start with those.  How can organizations like state agencies, universities, nonprofits, we got a lot of those folks on this call better collaborate with mental health practitioners. That's open for all of you. 

Dr. Khary: I'm going to say this. 

Daffaney: I didn't hear the last, 

Pepper: Oh, forgive me. How can organizations better collaborate with mental health practitioners is the question.  Dr. Wilson? 

Dr. Khary: I think the, we, one of the big understandings is that when we partner with some of these places, we partner with some of these nonprofit organizations because they know community and because they are connected to community, they know community. So it has to be, community centered, 100 percent community centered. And the other things of how to do this is, to, if you're going to partner with someone in a community to pour into more of their gifts.  Versus pouring into their traumas and it's one of those things where you know, where you'll get, especially in the way Baton Rouge is set up and how Baton Rouge the, especially what I know is from the LGBT community is that, trust is such a huge part of it. And if you're building these areas of trust that they have to be centered around those people.  And not only centered around those people, they have to be, you have to pour into their gifts versus their traumas. And that's, I think those are the ways to come forth and to bring about, great collaboration. Anybody, I'll tell you, any nonprofit organization out here, if you want to support the gifts and talents of the people, they will be more than happy because they, we already get so many people coming in and telling and supporting our traumas. 

Pepper: Daffaney, before we shift to you, I want to make sure that we get your voice before you've got to bounce. Dr. Wilson, when you say pour into our gifts, as opposed to pouring into our traumas, can you unpack that for us? What does that mean? Cause I don't know that everybody has that. We have the same understanding.

Dr. Khary: Sure. For example, the LGBT community is known for a lot of things. And to me, it's one of the most dynamic communities that I've ever, that I've ever been a part of, just in the understanding of these people's gifts and talents alone. The, if you're going to pour into, if you're going to do something, pour into the things that the community already does. They have the balls, they have, drag, they have the dancers, we have these things and we have you want to really want to reach these people. You have to meet them exactly where they feel comfortable and where they feel comfortable is in their gifts and the things that they are able to do.These people, they work hard and if you pour into those things, then you're building trust from a different level. And I think, I hope that answered that question. 

Pepper: It helps a lot. So how do we make it so it's not transaction, right? So if I am. It is what it is.

Dr. Khary: It is what it is. I'm being very 100 percent honest with you. It is what it is. It is what it is.  It is what it is. I will say that, it's a bait and switch kind of thing, that has to happen. If you're coming from more larger communities, such as New Orleans or Atlanta, where they have the people that just going to show up anyway, the communities here are so different. They, you have to bait and switch them. You have to offer them something, give them something. If it's not a free meal, if it's not a free meal, then it's definitely, a gift card or something you have given, give them something, it is what it is.  

Pepper: I'm gonna take the gift card, I can't be eating from everybody's house. Daffaney Webster, before you have to go, please talk to us  about how it is that  agencies and organizations and nonprofits can better collaborate with mental health practitioners like yourself. 

Daffaney: With mental health professionals. Say that last the last few words again, 

Pepper: Mental health practitioners like yourself. 

Daffaney: What I've noticed is that we have several organizations. We are, and we are all out here trying to make it happen, but We are doing a part, sometimes I had a doctor tell me one time. You're better together than you are apart. You're stronger together than you are, you know apart and I've noticed that lately a lot of mental health organizations, you know are collaborating and they're trying to integrate their services together So that we all can reach the community as one so to answer your question we have to be open to what other organizations can provide. We cannot be in this space to where we feel intimidated by what the other organization is doing. We cannot be intimidated about, if they're doing this and you're not, it's just you can't be competitive in a world of mental health. Okay. And I'm here to tell you, it's not enough. It's not enough of us to reach the need that's out there. So the more the better, you understand? So I may be able to provide screenings for ADHD or I may be able to work better with the person that has been, Do the judicial court system and not guilty by reason of insanity as opposed to, this organization may not be familiar with that, but it doesn't mean that we cannot work together because you have something to provide and I have something to provide as well. So I think it's just understanding the strength of each other.  Like what Dr. Wilson said, understanding the strength of each other, understand what we all can bring to the table, willing to be open and receptive to what everybody can bring, everybody's perspective about thing is not the same. So we have to understand that people think, we think about things differently and we interpret things differently. However, we can all come out with one common goal. 

Pepper: It's beautiful. To stay on the justice adjacent per clientele, right? So help me with the what does this look like? How do you provide the services that are meeting them where they are? And then we are going to shift to a question specifically about moms. It's already in the chat, but the, with the reentry population, and how? And how, I only know what I know about not guilty by reason of insanity from what I've seen on TV is that real? Is it real? Do people actually, can you claim that? How do you get there? Is it a thing that people just do in order to get off? I've watched the movies. I'm informed. 

Daffaney: You're getting a little deep there so let me explain it to you. So yes, that is reality. A lot of the community is not aware of that system that is right here in Louisiana, and we do service those individuals. I don't know, I think for some reason, it hasn't been a secret, it's been here for 20 plus years, it's just been at the hospital in Jackson and the cellar light clinic is actually in New Orleans. So yes, there are individuals. That do plead not guilty by reason of insanity. However, what a lot of people don't understand about that system is. It's not that easy  in behavior health and in the psychiatric world, when you are in a system like that. You have to have history on top of history on top of history, going back to when you were a child. If you have somebody now like we've dealt, I've dealt with individuals that have actually killed their parents and, buried them up under the house and now they're in a group home and they're living there and they, and there's this things like that we have in our community. A lot of people are not aware of that. The situation is with individuals like that, you have to do the research. You have to do the history. If they had problems when they were in school as a child, if they had behavior problems, if they had mood disorders, if they grew up in a house where there was someone that was had substance abuse issue and they were exposed to trauma situations, you look at things like that from a history of an individual. And if it comes to a point as an adult or even a young adult, young teenager, and something happens, they commit a crime.  Then there is a system called a sanity commission. The sanity commission is a group of psychiatrists that are degreed in forensic psychiatry. A lot of them are through Tulane. Okay. And that sanity commission does a competency evaluation where they have different questions that they ask the individual about their history, about their psychiatric history, about their crime, about their it even gets into their 10. Do just teach an accident question about the court. Do you understand what it means that you have a right. To, have an attorney, do you have, do you understand what a jury is? Do you know what the judge does? So things, questions like that is in a competency evaluation and it makes a determination. It determines if the individual is cognitive enough and coherent enough to stay in trial, to face the crime that they have committed. However, you have The greed professionals that said at that sanity commission and they are able to make a determination if that is the case. So that is true in our world. Okay,  how now to answer your question, how do we reach those individuals? How do I reach individuals?  How do I meet people where they are?

We have this thing that's called culture competence. Emotional intelligence. So when you have a person in front of me, everybody's situation is unique to its own. I have to basically, you have to wear several hats here. So I can't say that Mr. Wilson has came in here with depression, just an example, and, his situation is, Just like you're so I'm going to diagnose you the same and give you the same medication. It doesn't work like that You know Everybody's situation is unique to his own and as a provider and as a mental health professional Every situation is addressed differently. Every story is You cannot approach any case  the same way. 

Pepper: Thank you, ma'am. And I know that your time is short, so I want to say thank you before you go. But I want to open this one last question if you can speak, if you have a second. 

Daffaney: Yeah, I'm here to, I'm here to 9:15. 

Pepper: Okay. With moms in mind, are there any groups that you know of that can help form a sort of village so that moms can take the time to invest in self care? Seeking services might be difficult if there's not a support system to watch the little ones or even give, giving a mom a break. 

Daffaney: I did see that question in the chat, but I'm, If I'm understanding the question correctly, we have several female organizations that mission and goal is to service. Women, right? And one for sure I know is YWCA, YWCA is a organization that service not only the woman, but actually the child as well. And then you have the 100 black women, so they do cater to female, the females and their organizations that will cater to the mom. I know YWCA has a platform to where they deal with domestic violence. They deal with financial literacy. They deal with job, integrate, job doing resumes and things of that nature. And I do. No, they are getting ready to open a child  daycare center. I think they received funding to do that and I think they're actually working on that right now. If I'm in question, you know correctly why WCA is probably the organization that you would. Look for that resource. 

Pepper: Fantastic. Thank you so much. Yeah. There are a lot of ways that we attempt to, I think meet parents, particularly moms who often not always, but are often the primary caregiver may seem or feel somewhat and sufficient for those who are not connected to the services. But aces, can y'all speak to aces? Tia, that's the Adverse Childhood Experiences Project.  Okay, we'll come back to that. We'll come back to it. All right. Trying to bring this up a level, right? My thank you so much for that information, mainly because I honestly, I have only ever seen folks on TV. And of course, that's always very interesting. Should I say dramatic claiming, reason that the walls were moving. And so I killed everybody in the house kind of situation. And so if there needs to be this deeper documentation, and thank you, Reverend Anderson for sharing more information about what the process is in the chat and YouTube is Jenkins Webster for giving us a little bit of an expansion on that. Shifting. Back into the arts and under and trying to understand what is yes, there was a note if your mind, if your hands are busy, then your mind can relax, can settle. What, what does that how do you even find the art medium that somebody that, that resonates with someone, how do you get them to express themselves more than just, throwing, Bob Ross is amazing, but I could not make Happy Little Trees. I tried a ceramics class once, and I don't know that I was any good at it. But how do you get to a place where that is something that works? Dr. Wilson, that's partially for you, too.  

Dr. Khary: Yeah I think the biggest thing, Understanding is again, meeting people where they are and just exposing them to, to whatever it is, exposing them to multiple things. If something doesn't work, then you show you use another medium, you use another thing. Dance may get somebody, if, something else may get another person, it's poetry slams things like those kinds of things, whatever you do, you just expose them to it. And the point of it is that you're exposed to it and you can't worry about it, about what happens after that. You have to get yourself in the space where I've done this right here. And whatever, if it sticks to somebody, it sticks. And if it doesn't, then  it is what it is. And that way, cause you, you can easily get, I feel like you can easily get yourself burnt out by trying to, you just expose them,  just expose it to  them. I'm not sure what else to say. 

Pepper: No, that's absolutely fine. If it's just a matter of exposing folks to different mediums until you find the right one, that makes perfectly good sense. But how do we get to, singing in the shower, singing while I'm washing dishes is one thing, but opera? That seems like a far stretch. 

Dr. Khary: Oh, so you're talking about me personally. So how I was in, I was biology major for a little bit of my undergrad degree and it just wasn't working out and I know that I knew that I could sing. So I ended up just switching to the music department and I started, I took some voice lessons and then I, the next, basically that, that same year, I won a singing competition. It just, it's just, it just happened. And so from there. I've made, I graduated, I made a couple of debuts with smaller companies in young artists programs. And then from there, just started to work regionally and internationally a little bit of where I've lived and lived in Australia and Germany and France and I've performed in many places. It's one of those things where you just it was, it I had no clue what I was doing. I was, I was just there holding on and whatever happened, it was happening to me, and it's gotten me here. 

Pepper: Fair enough. You are not who I think of when I think of an opera singer.

Dr. Khary: Yes.

Tia Fields: I always I've worked with Kari in so many different capacities and I'm always been amazed of him being a black opera singer and an actual opera singer. I know it probably doesn't show when you say you, when you look at him, you don't see it, but it's  I was just amen and amenning to your comment. 

Pepper: So it really does echo conversations that we've had over, I don't know,  the better part of the last year, right? That maybe who we see is not who we think we're seeing. I'm seeing a picture of Mariana Montero  and we had a whole call on how it is that there's diversity within the Latino community, but we may not see Afro Latinos as Latinos. When I look at you, I'm thinking, opera singer, you're not a woman.  I don't know what to do with this information. As you show up in spaces  what is the the things that you, the what is it that you are doing in order to help the next generation of, say, young people? Yeah. African American boys move into space that you are carving for them.

Dr. Khary: I have done several projects of, for performing myself, just Baba Tunde with hip hop or he's created that social media platform. I have several projects of myself. One is the social media is a social is a project that I've created where I've created. I've done a short film. I created a short film and it, and I sing live a song cycle that goes along with it. That's one of them projects I've also done. I have projects  that are geared towards, helping kids, and there are also  some companies around here who just, who does just that they, Opera Creole in New Orleans. It's a opera company of black people in New Orleans, which is the first city of opera. So it's one of those things where, you know, again, I may not look like what you think of when you see an opera singer, but there are a lot of us out here. A lot of us out here who are working, who are working and putting our foot implanted. And today more than ever, we're being, we're more visible. If you go to the Metropolitan Opera and you go, or you go to any opera house around the country, you're seeing shows. Opera Memphis is doing a La Boheme with an all black class, all black cast.  Which is absolutely unreal. They have this initiative to do this to, to showcase these voices who have been left behind and who have not been, who've been overlooked. So there's a, a.  Something that's been going on with opera companies lately to produce, new works for black people other than poor again, best and to, to, to these, there've been initiatives. And this goes back to  what you guys were talking about early about how to get people you, in a community you, people who work for you have to look like the computer, like the community. If they don't.  Then you're not getting what you want. You're not getting what you want. You have to, the people who are hired into these spaces have to come from the spaces that you looked at. You're trying to do that. They have to come from these places. They have to be a part of these communities. It's one of the things that where, you know where I've seen, opera companies. There's one that I've worked with a lot in South Carolina, which is why I always go back in the beginning of the summer is because they look for me, they look for the black, they look for the black person to feel and fulfill this place and to feel these roles and to do these things. And it's a great feeling to go to know that, you're out there and people are looking for you.  I don't know. I don't know what else to say. Sorry, 

Pepper: I can't talk to you anymore. I am trying to figure out when this La Boheme presentate this show is going to be happening. Looks like May 17. It is you just struck a chord, sir. It is my favorite opera. 

Dr. Khary: It is  going to be great and there's some amazing singers, some amazing things. I've worked with a couple of the singers and amazing singers. All right, so if I were to channel my inner Sesame Street and decide that I was going to roll around do y'all remember that? Is it only me? It was the orange and she had the rubber band for the mouth and she would sing. No? All right, fine. Anyway, if I were to channel my inner Leontine Price how would I get into your program? Or is it something that is only for younger people? 

Dr. Khary: And so my program, what program are we talking about?

Pepper: Cause you do sing, you do lessons, right? 

Dr. Khary: Oh, yes. Yes. You would just, you would come, you just email me. I can put my email up if you'd like and email me and contact me and I can give you my rates. We can talk through, things. And I think if you have the, if you think you should be doing it, you should definitely take some lessons.  

Pepper: The world may not think I should, however, but if you think you should.

Dr. Khary: You think you should, then you should at least give, you should at least give yourself enough understanding and enough of permission to try. 

Pepper: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you, doc. Reverend Anderson, don't encourage me. I am already doing the ridiculous things. I need no help. So help me, talk to us seriously as we talk about meeting people where they are and they ask for the black singer they look for you what springs to mind are images of Paul Robeson. And how, in his starring performance, not just in four game best, but at Niagara Falls, right? When you, the entire cultural climate was very different, but what do, what can you share with us about how not only showing up in spaces and what your presence brings means not only to fulfilling your ministry, right? So what it is that you are there to do, but how it impacts folks in who may just be there. I know that I know when I go to some places I look for particular people, but that's because we build relationships, right? So if you can just expand on what that means, I would appreciate it. 

Dr. Khary: Depending on exactly what all.

Pepper: I gave you like five different paths. 

Dr. Khary: Yes. Yes. I think I'm going to say this, I'm going to say this, I think that the biggest part of this is showing, of course, it's showing up as yourself. I have to show up as my black self. Everywhere I go, I'm the same. One thing you will notice from I'm the same way everywhere I go is because I have to show up as this person everywhere. So by showing up as my black self.  I'm, what I'm doing is I am allowing people to see someone who looks like me, who sounds like me, who talks like me, who moves their hands like me to do everything they're doing. They're just doing this. They see a person, they see me for who I am and for, and then they're never, and then they're never shocked when they absolutely, when they see it. Somewhere else because you, what it is what it is, so I think, I think  the most important part of it is to be  just to be. 

Pepper: Much love and respect. All right, so y'all, I'm looking for, thank you Tia for dropping all of this information in the chat. Do you have, sir, any place that we might be able to see you in particular coming up? 

Dr. Khary: Nowhere near, like I, I, like I said, I'll be in South Carolina for about two weeks during a, an opera festival, a children's opera festival there and then I'll nowhere near, I'm so sorry,  but if you wanted to look for me, or you can look for me on YouTube  at Khary Wilson and I have there, there are a number of videos that I posted and other people have probably posted of me performing and doing some things.And that's about it.  It's been fun.  

Pepper: That is phenomenal. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Yeah. I have never been exposed to so many folks who have the PhDs in music than I have when I started working with One Rouge. I didn't know you could get a PhD in opera. It's so  stupid question.

Fully admit that. So you get an undergrad in music? Is it music theory? Or is it specific to opera? Or do you just specialize as you move forward with this set with the education? 

Dr. Khary: It also once it depends on the university. Every university offers different track, different tracks. My degree is  from LSU in vocal performance and vocal performance. So it's not necessarily in opera, but it's in vocal performance. I have a performance degree and I started off with music education degree. And then my master's, I went specifically. to study vocal performance and only vocal performance. And I went for, certain teachers and the same thing with my doctoral program. I came specifically for a vocal performance degree, so it's, it encompasses all encompasses, opera, musical theater stuff. It's vocal performance.  

Pepper: Yes, that is wonderful and last question before we start to shift into community announcements. You'd mentioned the balls, right? So very specific places where there are already the community who are showing up expressing self and. Really just having a great time and doing that. Is this a space where it would lend itself to folks showing up and trying to provide services to be involved? I don't know. I don't know if I would be the person to show up on a whatever night it is at a ball, especially if I'm not in drag, because it feels very much like I'm just, a looky loo. I'm just there to watch. And that's not the, that's not what I want out of this. How do I show up in a way that is better than I can think of?  

Dr. Khary: I understand. I understand. And this is a part of the understanding that I have developed over the past couple of years is mostly that, services. That what you're building is more so relationships than building services. Your services are the thing that are a little bit more on the back burner. They, you, they're there because you just happen to have them and they're there and they're always there, but you just happen to have them, you go to these places to get to know people and to build trust and relationships with people. And once you do that, then you can maybe see about, setting a table up or something like that. But it's always it's always. Anything services of people's traumas or it is what it is, they don't want it forefront, and it's, especially in the LGBT communities is they don't want to, they don't want, they want to celebrate when they come out, when they go places, when they go, they want to enjoy themselves. They don't want to, be, reminded of the traumas on a regular basis, so it's it's a very interesting thing, to, usually where you can have services just sitting there and just out, you have to, we have me over there if you want to, if you like them, they over there, and I'm just being real. I'm being real.  

Pepper: No, I do. I thank you for your candor. I thank you for your willingness to share information. I thank you for helping us to be better service providers. Because showing up and tabling at a ball is  a faux pas. It's just it, but it feels as if that's that those are the mechanisms that a lot of  service providers have. So don't know what I don't. It's disingenuous for me to go out and get a ball gown and come and drag or actually a tuxedo and come and drag. But it's also. If I want to be there, thank you for telling me how to be there. And with that said yeah thank you very much for spending part of your morning with us. I really do appreciate it. Thanks to all of our speakers this morning both of the other 2 of needed to fall off. But thank you, Dr. Wilson, for staying with us for the long haul. With all that said, we don't see any more questions in the chat, but going to open it up one last time, going once, going twice, going into community announcements, what's going on in this weekend at Baton Rouge, y'all. 

Manny Patole: I think it's been a long week for a lot of folks.  

Casey: Not everybody all at once.  

Helena Williams: Nichola, I don't know if you want to come off mute, but I just wanted to give an update with the EBR. Are you good to go? 

Nichola Hall: Oh, yeah. Sorry, we were working on something else. We were listening.

Pepper:  Fancy new hair! 

Nichola: Oh, hey, I gotta fluff it up a bit. I don't look like Manny, though, because Manny got hair. And also Casey, they got hair.  Alright, go ahead Helena, go ahead, and I'll jump in. 

Helena: Okay. I'm going to put the link in the chat, but  Nicola and I have worked together to put together a press release about the EBR school system, summer feeding programs, everything that you need to know about the ways that families for children can engage to get food during the summer. So I'm going to drop that in the chat. Okay. And it includes a map that we put together. It's a Google map of all the summer feeding sites that are available. The times that they are open and just you know if it's drop in or not and the only one that requires the preregistration is the rural site in pride, but otherwise all you need to do is show up and either eat onsite or do Meals on the go, if it's a library or a A housing authority area. But I don't know if there's any more that you want to go into because I feel like you can explain it better as well. 

Nichola: No, but you are why do you always downplay your super awesomeness? She chopped that mop up to get literally at the last minute, put all of the things on a Google map because we were running out of time and made this happen. So hats off to you, Helena. You are a rock star in all of her books. So always take your flowers. But yes, she summarized it really well. And the press release summarize it really well. The goal is once again is to celebrate and elevate two things. Summer feeding. We're starting on the 28th. We're ending on the 29th. August 2nd, and we have 3 separate types of meal services. You could pick up a box meal at Northeast. You could drop in at a school site and consume the meals on site. Or you could be a visitor at one of our to go mobile spaces. And we also include the addresses there. And then the most important thing of all is the sunbucks, right? So they changed the language from summer EBT to sunbucks. Don't matter to me. As long as the kids get fed, it's all good. So the fact that happened, we wanted to include that piece of it because at the end of the day, It doesn't matter who does what it's all about the families in our community. So I just wanted to share that out. And I am so super grateful for all the help that we received, especially from Tia kind of, she keep us engaged in what's happening behind the scene. Emily channeling keep us engaged or what's happening with LDOE and give us a little inner secrets kind of thing. But I would ask for anyone who has a relationship with someone from DCFS because we're still not sure what's happening and we need some, clear directives. So we need a friend. So if you know somebody, you could phone a friend on our behalf to connect the dots so we could talk offline  about some next steps that we could keep this going. So that's my speech and thank you again. 

Casey: Hey, Nicola, can you put what is the connection, the relationship that you're looking for and in what way? 

Nichola: Yes. So DCS, DCFS will be managing the application process for the sunbucks. So if you, if a child or a family's already enrolled in SNAP benefits, they would automatically receive it, but there's still an application process that needs to happen for those who are not enrolled. And it seemed like they want to be the one to manage our facilitate that process. And if that's the case, we just need clear directives. So we could share out to families of to say, hey, this is what needs to happen. So we could point them in the right direction. So it's pretty much that's what I'm really needs a clear, succinct, step 1, 2, 3, 4. That's it. Not a whole bunch of technical jargon that's going to muddy the waters.  

Casey: Excellent. And Nicola, you're looking for a, one on one conversation with someone from DCFS or with Mike Manning and Pat, with Heating Louisiana. They both are able to sign people up. They have staff that can sign people up for SNAP. Which perspective are you looking for?  

Nichola: So both. So let me tell you, I'm a pie in the sky kind of girl. So if I can get it all, I'm gonna take it all, so for me is, yes, identify what the process is, but also identify who could help to facilitate the process, because I remember we had a few conversations maybe a week ago, a month ago, and Tia is also like a certified I'm not sure what the term is, but she could help to manage the application process. Along the way for a SNAP benefits, right? So if we have entities and individuals out there who could help to facilitate the process, why are we slowing down getting people certified to get the SNAP benefits? And it's literally less than a month away. We go live June 1st. I think it is. And there are a ton of families that will. Can benefit from this, and may lose out of this opportunity. And there's also a, from my understanding, a bottleneck at the DCFS. In terms of the applications being approved, so it'd be really cool. I would love if. Child nutrition could help with the application process from a lunch application, because we already have that relationship. Just, whatever the barriers are. I don't know. Maybe they're real. Maybe they're not. I don't know what they are. Just tell me what it is and how I can help to plug away at it to get people fed. That's all this is to just get people food so we could reduce food insecurity, especially in North Baton Rouge from 35 %. Can we do that in a year? So anyway, I digress. So that's what I  that's no digress.

Casey: That's all part of it. And thanks for the space everyone to for us to just all back and forth. So I assume that you've already approached this through the moral outreach committee. And their channels and that hasn't given you the answers that you need. And I know that, obviously, Helena knows how to get a hold of Monica at DCFS. And you need the rung up a little bit higher to be able to have a clear conversation and really understand what's going on. 

Nichola: Yes. So we've met with Mike and Audie and a few others. Emily was on that call, Chatelaine. We had several other discussions with other key players, but see, no one needs no one knows what the steps are. They're just, it's just not very clear. And as much as I am knee deep into it. I like simple. I'm a simple person. Just give me step a through 3. I don't want more than 3 steps. That's it. And don't overcomplicate  the process. But right now it seemed oh, hey, y'all want it. There you go. Sunbucks. But no explanation as to how we get the son bucks of the family who do not, or who have not already been enrolled in the program and Manny. Yes, if I could reduce it by 5 percent every year, that'd be great. But I would love to reduce it to 5%. But I know that is such a hard ask, but, it's better.  

Casey: Look at you. You're looking for eight at three. Look at you using algebra and math to figure it all out. All so thank y'all for the space and I'll make sure and text with you offline. We'll see if we can if we can facilitate that. Thank you. And obviously we're having this conversation transparently.  If there are people on this call with more juice than all, the humans currently off of me, we welcome it. Please hit Nichola directly and and make introductions that all that you can get her the information that she needs. Okay. Thank y'all. 

Nichola: You're welcome. And also the other thing is oh, Jan is on the call. Okay. Jan is in the background trying to move mountains at the same time. So yes, whatever y'all could throw at us to help us move this needle further or faster. We have three weeks left to get this done. Please plug us with somebody, somebody who you have a relationship, go to church with, I don't know, somebody who you drink wine with. I don't know. Help us out or help us out to move this. Thanks. 

Pepper: Reverend Anderson?

Reverend Anderson: Good morning. I'm asking everybody support and help on three very specific things. One of them is that on Friday, May 17th at 10 a. m. is going to be the 19th JDC recovery court graduation. I put that in the chat.  It is so critical that when people are doing the hard work, and it is a lifelong journey, it's not one step. To go into recovery that the community also is there to receive them. And both in my role as the community advocate for that recovery court, but also in my role as somebody who understands that  when people have gone through addiction and behavioral health and those kind of issues, oftentimes there's been a lot of brokenness. And so there needs to be what I like to call a robe in a ring experience where the community says you can come back home. And so that's part of what a graduation is. The next thing I'm asking the communities help for is we now have 988 is specifically an emergency contact for behavioral health. We are increasingly seeing very bad outcomes for people struggling with autism, Alzheimer's, all sorts of behavioral health issues when they dial 911. And We have an opportunity to get 988 out into the community. I will help anybody get supplies and everything else. But when I say the critical reason 988 is such an important change is because the system is designed for behavioral health, specific subsections of LGBTQ, of children, of  Cultural differences, so it's a very important system and it's real simple. There are magnets. There are stickers. There are all sorts of information. But as we go into summer, I'm asking everybody if you will please try to get materials and share that in whatever network you're in. And that's everything else I think I put in the chat. Thank you. Pepper. 

Pepper: Thank you, ma'am. I appreciate it. All right. Peace, love and harmony. Thank you all for being here and spending part of your Friday morning with me. You know how much it means to me. We will see y'all back here next Friday. Same bat time, same bat channel. Have a great weekend. 




Community Announcements

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