As Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival Grows More Volunteers Are Needed

More growth is on the horizon for the well-known Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival in Annapolis. At the end of September, reportedly nearly 9,000 people attended the 30th annual festival and over 100 vendors participated from a variety of states participated in the annual festival this year.

Clones of Funk returned to crank funky tunes for the crowd at Annapolis City Dock. Guests at the festival were also treated to performances by the Ni Dembaya African Dance & Drum Ensemble and other entertainers. Motivational speaker and singer, Chardelle Moore also performed. A photo booth created by H. Lee Studio commemorating a spectacular 30th year celebration was on-site.

Angel Harriott, founder and President of Global Journey for Children, Inc. now serves as vice chair of the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival. Jan F. Lee says that she will remain the chair for next year’s festival. Attendees from all races continue to embrace the volunteer-run event, which was inspired by a slave named Kunta Kinte that the late author, Alex Haley, wrote about when he penned book, “Roots.”

Planning for the next family-oriented cultural celebration is already in development.

“We are in need of a Volunteer Committee Chair, and Education and Community Chair. There are also open positions on the Board of Directors. Planning for this growing festival we have found is optimally all year, so we will continue on throughout the end of the year through the New Year, applying for grants and addressing non-profit organization administrative duties,” Lee said. “We want to continue to grow so that more and more people know about the festival and get to experience all that it is. We aim to not only make sure that people have a great time with entertainment, but also that we educate people, connect people, and empower people. We are going to look at crafting a Vision Statement that will bring the festival into the future, while ensuring we continue to acknowledge our ancestors and honor our heritage.”

Lee also mentioned that becoming more “green” and environmentally conscious are future of the festival committee.. Additionally, the festival team hopes to institute an internship program to provide an opportunity for high school and college students to learn non-profit management, marketing and event management skills. As the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival moves toward increasing youth engagement, it remains a celebration of the perseverance, education, and cultural heritage of Africans, African Americans, and people of African descent.

A photo booth created by H. Lee Studio commemorating a spectacular 30th year celebration was on-site.

A photo booth created by H. Lee Studio commemorating a spectacular 30th year celebration was on-site.

Tray Chaney, a full-time actor and artist from Forestville, Maryland, who cherishes family, fatherhood and marriage performed at this year’s festival and served as a co-host with Chris Dillard. Chaney is best known as the character POOT from HBO’s drama “The Wire,” and most recently the character, Kendrick, from Bounce TVs hit show “Saints & Sinners.” Chaney is currently touring and performing songs from his album, S.A.M (Strictly About Music). The first single, “Love For You” featuring Kenny Lattimore, is described as a very uplifting song to women and mothers.

“I was so honored to be a part of the Kunta Kinte festival. I was one of the featured performers performing songs off my album S.A.M, which is available on all digital streaming platforms.

I sold my t-shirts from my (Dedicated Father, GOD FIRST, Dedicated Mother) T-shirt Line, which is available on, and I was able to autograph copies of my book, “The Truth You Can’t Betray,” Chaney said. “The feeling (of participating in the festival) was an amazing feeling I can’t describe. I learned so much about the African culture. Every vendor, performer and supporter educated me on their backgrounds, and the whole entire events was just filled with love. I would come back anytime.”

Dillard (Red Dott) was the co-host of the main stage. The comedian, actor, motivational speaker and spoken word poet is a community activist and football coach at Meade High School. Dillard has hosted a plethora of national events and starred in popular television shows such as TV One’s “For My Man and BET’s “Criminal Minds at Work.” Dillard’s family has roots in Annapolis and neighboring areas.

The comedian who specializes in “improv” style, an unscripted dialogue or story says that the festival caters to all ages while providing a chance to learn about heritage and bond with family.

“The most exciting thing is going from walking the festival as a kid saying, ‘I’ll be here one day to having the mic in my hand,’ and hosting in front of my mom and grandfather who used to bring me 25 years ago,” Dillard said. “That made me realize that all the setbacks, failures and haters it’s all worth it in the end when you understand that pushing forward and using that as fuel for what God called you to be.”

Annapolis Veteran Recognized By Local American Legion, His Story Part Of Veterans History Project

Even though Annapolis is well known for celebrating African-American heritage and historic neighborhoods, there are many stories of historical significance that remain untold. One local man, James Diggs’ military story is just one those gems that should be firmly cemented in historical repositories.

On September 20, 2019, National POW/MIA (prisoners of war/ missing in action) Recognition Day, Diggs took a step in this much-deserved direction, with the help of the American Legion Cook-Pinkney Post 141’s commander, Curtis Jones. Diggs publicly shared his story about being held as a POW for 33 months during the Korean War.

The Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project (VHP) recorded the interview at the post.

Congress created the VHP in 2000 to preserve interviews, letters, maps, original photographs and other historical documents belonging to United States military veterans from World War I to the present, according to the VHP website.

“If you’re not familiar with that (VHP), it’s an oral history archive at The Library of Congress where we preserve and keep the memories alive of veterans,” said Andrew Huber, Liaison Specialist for the VHP. “This is something the historians can learn from when people are writing books, making movies, filming documentaries, so they can get factual information about our nation’s heroes, and we thank Mr. Diggs very much for participating.”

The evening also included a dinner and music, and citations were presented to Diggs.

Jones, who is a retired Marine said that Diggs was honored to let him know that the people in his community are grateful for his service to this nation. He further explained that history books primarily show Caucasian POWs when referencing the Korean War.

“That would make you think that there were no black soldiers during that time. After meeting Mr. Diggs over 20 years ago, and after getting to know him and just listening to this soft spoken man, I asked him one day what did he do in the war, and he told me he had been a POW for almost three years!” Jones explained. “He told me about the day that he was captured and how he thought that would be his last day on earth! I asked him how did he make it, and he told me faith in God. That day, I knew that I had to do something to make sure that his story would live on in the history of this country, and that he received his just due [so] that he and his comrades [would] not be forgotten anymore.”

After completing the VHP’s interview in a quiet space, Diggs who is now in his eighties emerged and he received a host of accolades. He expressed his gratitude for being honored.

”Through Him, and through Him alone, brought me this far, I hope to continue on this day and road in the future, and I want to thank all of you for being here tonight,” Diggs said.

Diggs lived to tell his miraculous story but there are many other stories related to serving in the military which should never slip away, including oral histories from Gold Star Families who can share their stories on behalf of military members who died as a result of service. Any veteran may submit an interview to be added to the repository. It takes six to eight months for interviews to be processed and added to collections.

Diggs’s interview has been selected to be digitized and will be available online. However, some stories are only available for viewing in the American Folklife Center (AFC) Reading Room in the Library’s Jefferson Building. The center is located in Washington, D.C.

“If you all are interested in his (Diggs’s) story, you can go to: In a little while, we’ll have it posted, and you’ll be able to listen to his full story, but I encourage any veteran who is here tonight to also share their story. Because, while [Mr. Diggs] is an absolute hero, he’s only one veteran out of the 22 million living veterans in America today— and every single one of them has an important story,” Huber said. “And no matter what you did, what branch you served in, whether you deployed or not, your story is important and your story matters to America. So we hope all of you who are veterans or who know veterans will look up the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and get involved.”

Jones reaffirmed these points, when he added that he would like children to ask relatives if they served in the military.

“If the answer is ‘yes,’ ask “What did they do?’” Jones said. “So much history is being lost because children don’t know what’s right in front of them.”

‘No Dead Beats Club’ Provides School Uniforms For Elementary, Middle School Students

School supplies are not the only back-to-school expense that can impact a family’s budget. Mandatory school uniforms used in an effort to promote uniformity, lessen bullying, encourage equality and emphasize academic achievement instead of fashion can be costly. For families with several school-aged children, the mandatory dress codes can be especially burdensome.

Cory McGhee, founder of the “No Dead Beats Club,” assembled a team of volunteers in Annapolis who also strive to help underprivileged youth and families. McGhee founded the club in July this year, after using the #nodeadbeats hashtag on social media for a long time. When he decided that he wanted to do uplifting things for the youth in the community, he opted to stick with his familiar hashtag.

Men from the “No Dead Beats Club” pose in solidarity.

Dee Ward

Men from the “No Dead Beats Club” pose in solidarity.

“We are aware that support, guidance and a sense of security plays a huge role in the growth and success in our youth,” McGhee said, explaining that these things are not available to many young people. “The team sat around trying to figure out what kids need for school. As we were brainstorming the usual school supplies came up, but we wanted to think deeper, and we came up with uniforms. Many on the team remembered being in school and having only one uniform to wear every day to school.”

The “No Dead Beats Club Back To School Bash” was held at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis, on August 25, 2019 to help ease the burden of buying school uniforms for the new school year. Approximately 70 elementary and middle school students received two new school uniforms each. The children participated in games and other fun activities plus many received haircuts.

McGhee added that he chooses to give back to the community because he was once an underprivileged child living in Annapolis. He also understands how hard it is for some parents, especially single ones, to provide for their families and be in a financial position to participate in fun activities.

The Annapolis father of three wants to help as many people as he can by being a mentor to youth and helping their families, even beyond the first event. Team members of the “No Dead Beats Club,” are like-minded volunteers, who responded to McGhee’s social media post about wanting to start a club with these goals in mind. The team recognized that the majority of elementary and middle school students in Annapolis are required to wear uniforms daily but realized that some of them may be in need of uniforms.

In the beginning, team members purchased uniforms with their own money. Later, they received donations from the public through Pay Pal and the Nodeadbeats Club Cash App to enabled them to shop for uniform shorts and pants in a variety of sizes. In a little less than a month, approximately 150 uniforms were purchased.

Deonte Ward, who is a member of the “No Dead Beats Club,” says that he has been volunteering in the community for 14 years. He is a full-time carpenter by day, and at night he works as a full-time youth program director for a non-profit.

“I’m giving back to the community because those that gave when I was a child helped provide a path for me to succeed despite the odds and adversity,” Ward said. “This is the beginning of a collaborative effort to helping families directly without governmental assistant. This helps bring more awareness to the communities in a unique way.”

Ward, also a parent, further explained that the volunteer group wants to be viewed as “big cousins” to youth. He says that the team can help bring more awareness to the communities in a unique way. He feels that individuals who are a part of the community can also make an impact on those who need help in it.

Both McGhee and Ward mentioned that more events are forthcoming.

“Our goal is to be that additional support in the concept of “It takes a village (to raise a child),” Ward said. “Well, we are the village.”

Requests for uniforms are still being made by local families. If you would like to donate to the uniform drive, funds are being accepted through CashApp via $NoDeadBeatsClub, or PayPal via

Author’s Story Provides Inspiration And Spreads Love Through Giving Back

From the smallest mid-western towns to the streets of Baltimore City, opioid addiction remains a growing problem in the United States.

According to Baltimore City Health Department’s website, Baltimore City saw 761 drug and alcohol-related intoxication deaths in 2017 and of those, a staggering number (692) were opioid related.

Nevertheless, inspiring people like Daniel McGhee represent the hope that getting clean from opioids is achievable. McGhee grew up in the Baltimore area and resides in Harford County. Despite life-threatening encounters with drugs and alcohol, McGhee was determined to rise about it all. Against the odds he won the battle, and even became a community leader who managed to make a local and international impact through philanthropy.

“I got addicted to heroin at about age 17 and quickly lost everything, including my morals, pride and integrity. It broke down all the walls that I had built around myself, and took my ego,” McGhee said. “I ended up homeless, in jails, prisons, rehabs, hospitals, overdosed, had a heart attack at age 21, and lost everyone I ever cared about. Several years, a lot of prayers and a long hard journey later, I picked up the pieces of myself and finally got it right.”

McGhee’s autobiography, “Chasing A Flawed Sun,” was published in June of 2019. Thus far, 2000 copies have been sold locally. Even though his intended audience was drug addicts and their loved ones, he discovered that people from different walks of life have been reading the raw book, which has been garnering excellent reviews.

“I hope that addicts gain the hope and clues to get clean. I hope that recovering addicts get more insight into why they did the things that they did, and I hope that the loved ones of addicts gain more understanding into the nature of addiction, the signs, and ways to handle a loved one with addiction,” McGhee said. “I’ve had people affect by addiction and completely unaffected reach out to me that have thanked me for the insight they’ve gained into the communities of Baltimore and its suburbs and the plight of addiction that plagues it.”

After getting clean in 2001, McGhee steadily began to rebuild his life, piece by piece. Today, he is the owner of Freedom Fighters Bail Bonds; Evolve So Hard clothing company; Kairos Properties, LLC; a real estate agent at Homeowners Real Estate; the Outreach/Marketing Coordinator at Hopes Horizon Treatment Facility; and president of Agape Projects.

“I started literally from the bottom with nothing. Once I was released from prison and ultimately, my last treatment center, I had to wait tables for years. I slowly saved money and started my own businesses. I learned to focus on rebuilding every part of my life every single day that drugs and alcohol had affected. It trashed my body, so I became an avid member of my gym. It damaged my mind, so I read books and did word puzzles,” McGhee said. “It damaged me emotionally and spiritually, so I worked on relationships with my loved ones, met and made new friends, and worked on a relationship with my God. It also destroyed me financially, so I worked hard at building a financially secure lifestyle.”

McGhee points to gratitude and humility, as core elements to helping him stay clean and sober. He also supports others with embracing their second chances, too.

“The Agape Projects was officially formed as a nonprofit in 2017. Through it, hundreds of different people volunteer with our various projects,” McGhee said, adding that his first community project began in 2010.

Founded by McGhee, the non-profit Agape Projects is focused on changing the world through the concept of Agape (pronounced ah-gah-pay). According to the website, Agape is an Ancient Greek word that refers to love in its highest form: Love in action through charity. Agape is also known as the love of God for mankind, and the love mankind has for God. The organization has various projects in different areas of need, including Haitian missions; animal rescue; disaster relief; toy run; and local community services here in Baltimore.

Examples of past events to help the community in Baltimore include monthly homeless feedings; clothing, hygiene and outreach; addictions outreach; and support to East Side Homeless Shelter.

“I [am] so grateful for his tremendous compassion, and I will never forget the help that he gave me, in my time of need,” Juli Leal said about McGhee, who helped her and other parents buy toys for their children as part of an annual toy run at Christmas.

McGhee’s altruism has motivated others to make a difference by volunteering. Laura Hatoff met McGhee, after following up about helping to sponsor children. She joined McGhee’s effort to mobilize other caring people through social media, by volunteering with him on local service projects.

Hatoff ultimately took mission trips to Haiti and Honduras to help others in need.

“He (Daniel) volunteers doing something every single day,” Hatoff said admiringly. “He represents nothing but love.”

For more information about his book, visit: and for more information about the Agape Projects, visit:

Nonprofit Recognizes Young Entrepreneurs, Advocates, Change-Makers, Trailblazers

This time of year, many parents strive to find summer programs or adventures to keep their children occupied during their long summer vacation. Families with older children, have the opportunity to pursue summer employment for youth. Additionally, there are an underserved percentage of young people who want to work in certain environments but are simply not old enough. Now, Gabrielle Jordan and her mother, Marcella Mollon-Williams have taken effective action in the nonprofit world to fill in the gaps created by factors such as these.

On June 21, 2019, Jordan and Mollon-Williams hosted the first awards gala to recognize the year-round excellence of adults and young people who are entrepreneurs, advocates, change-makers and trailblazers. Hundreds of people of all ages gathered at University of Maryland in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center for the official launch of the ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute’s (ExCEL) inaugural event.

The ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute ™ is a division of Sound of Nations, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, a youth-based mentoring program that provides mentorship opportunities and educational resources to develop creativity, interpersonal skills, leadership, and entrepreneurial mindsets.

“Two years ago, the vision…. came together to honor outstanding youth, and supporters of youth making an impact on this world despite [limited] expectations of what someone under the age of 18 can do. That vision came to pass, and that was the inception of the ExCEL Honors,” Jordan explained.

Jordan, now 18, is the co-founder of ExCEL. She was once a very young girl who understood her unique value at an early age. She started her jewelry company “Jewelz of Jordan,” when she was nine years old. Her many accomplishments, include: becoming a #1 Amazon best-selling author, sough-after speaker, and TEDx speaker.

“Both, my husband and I had a responsibility to encourage her, and we saw that. And we knew that as many of the parents are here understand, it is truly is our responsibility to not just plant the seeds but to water them,” said Mollon-Williams, also noting the past and potential future challenges of youth attendees.

“Their journey is not very easy. Many of these kids have felt isolated. They’ve been told they’re weird. They’ve been told that they’ll never succeed or that their ideas are dumb. They’ve lost friendships. They’ve been bullied, and they’ve been left feeling alone,” Mollon-Williams said. “So at ExCEL, we created a platform where these young trailblazers not only find the resources and the education they need to thrive in their endeavors, but build a community of like-minded individuals who are eager to support one another.

On June 21, 2019, Gabrielle Jordan and Marcella Mollon-Williams hosted the first awards gala to recognize the year-round excellence of adults and young people who are entrepreneurs, advocates, change makers and trailblazers. Hundreds of people of all ages gathered at University of Maryland in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center for the official launch of the ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute’s (ExCEL) inaugural event. Both youth and adults were recognized for being trailblazers, leaders, and entrepreneurs.

Andrea Blackstone

On June 21, 2019, Gabrielle Jordan and Marcella Mollon-Williams hosted the first awards gala to recognize the year-round excellence of adults and young people who are entrepreneurs, advocates, change makers and trailblazers. Hundreds of people of all ages gathered at University of Maryland in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center for the official launch of the ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute’s (ExCEL) inaugural event. Both youth and adults were recognized for being trailblazers, leaders, and entrepreneurs.

“Daughters of Destiny” was recognized as the gala’s honored youth organization. Youth and adult honorees included: Haile Thomas; Moziah Bridges; Susannah Wellford; Alana Andrews; Nyanna Harris; Alana Andrews; Gabby Goodwin; Miguel Coppedge; and Jahkil Jackson.

“I’m here to receive the youth change maker award, because of my organization, “Project I Am,” where I build awareness for homelessness [by] providing blessing bags full of toiletry items like soap, tissue, wipes, socks, hand sanitizer, things that help the homeless on a daily basis,” said Jahkil Jackson, 11 who is from Chicago, while explaining his organization’s mission.

Along with his parents, the young changemaker came up with a way to help the homeless, besides giving money. The global organization has been running for three years, even though Jahkil had been taking action before that. Blessing bags have even been distributed to orphans as far away as Africa, and volcano victims in Guatemala.

“Kids have some of the best ideas in the world. It has been proven because of all of the youth change agents that have been coming around. So, I think that the adults just need to listen,” Jahkil said.

Darius Brown, founder of “Beaux & Paws,” was among ExCEL’s finalists. The 12-year-old from New Jersey is an animal lover who found a creative way to help prevent cats and dogs from being euthanized at some shelters if they are not adopted due to limited space. His passion is making custom bow ties for dogs, cats and people. When four-legged friends wear his donated creations, it helps them to get adopted faster. Over 500 fury friends have been rescued with Darius’s assistance.

“I made it my mission to help as many dogs as I can,” Darius said, happily.

Additionally, ExCEL partnered with Wellspring Manor & Spa to celebrate World Entrepreneurs’ Day by hosting the 2019 Youth Entrepreneur Forum scheduled for Wednesday, August 21, 2019 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

To learn more about ExCEL’s mentoring program and upcoming events, visit or like the organization’s Faecbook page at:

Phenomenal Boy Wins Ellio’s Kids Scholarship Contest

With just a few months into 2019, Miguel Coppedge is already on a winning streak. Before last year came to a close, the author and philanthropist was spotted selling several books that he penned, and raising money for Prince George’s County-based St Ann’s Center for Children, Youth & Families (St. Ann’s), during The Holiday Market Place that was held at Coppin State University’s Talon Center lobby. The event hosted by The Baltimore Times’s community service arm, Times Community Services, Inc., allowed the social change-maker to spread his message about community policing and other superhero adventures to Baltimore, Maryland.

Miguel Coppedge and his mother, Yolanda Coppedge

Miguel Coppedge and his mother, Yolanda Coppedge

Miguel has a history of conquering challenges, then illustrating his motto that “You’re never too young to do anything.” The District of Columbia resident who was cared for at St. Ann’s before Yolanda Coppedge adopted him, reads to children, writes books, feeds the homeless, and works to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement.

While embarking on his inspiring journey, Miguel recently proved that perseverance pays off. Although Miguel placed in the top 10 of Ellio’s 2017 Phenomenal Kids Scholarship Contest, he did not win the online voting portion. However, he entered the contest a second time and this year, he landed in the winner’s seat. He took home a $10,000 grand prize.

“I feel great about winning the Ellio’s $10,000 scholarship. When I didn’t win the first time, I was a little sad. I was excited that I could enter again. My mom and I were like, ‘We got this, this year!’” Miguel said. “The money will be put into a 529 college savings account and I will build upon that.”

Yolanda College (middle) adopted Miguel Coppede (left), when he was a baby. The mother and son duo continue to accomplish great things. William Whalen (right), executive vice president of Dr. Oetker USA, LLC presented a $10,000 scholarship check to Miguel Coppedge (middle) on March 13, 2019 at  Washington Global Charter School, located in Washington, D.C.  Miguel attends the school and is a seventh grade honor roll student.

Yolanda College (middle) adopted Miguel Coppede (left), when he was a baby. The mother and son duo continue to accomplish great things. William Whalen (right), executive vice president of Dr. Oetker USA, LLC presented a $10,000 scholarship check to Miguel Coppedge (middle) on March 13, 2019 at  Washington Global Charter School, located in Washington, D.C.  Miguel attends the school and is a seventh grade honor roll student.

Ellio’s Pizza, which is a brand of Dr. Oetker USA, LLC has offered frozen pizza since 1963. The scholarship allows the company to recognize and invest in outstanding youth like Miguel. William Whalen, executive vice president of Dr. Oetker USA, LLC explained what made Miguel stand out in this year’s contest.

“Besides his great work educationally, I think it was his community service that really jumped out at us, when we read his initial letter from his mom which was just fantastic. She described a great little boy,” Whalen said. “We let America vote, by putting it (contest videos) on social media. They voted and he won.”

On March 13, 2019, Whalen walked through the doors of the seventh grade honor roll student’s school with a big check, a congratulatory message, Ellio’s PopSockets and free Ellio’s pizza coupons for all the students who attend Washington Global Charter School.

As Miguel’s classmate’s listened to the purpose of Whalen’s visit, Yolanda Coppedge and many others who support Miguel, beamed with pride.

“A few years ago, we started this contest called Phenomenal Kids, where we gave parents a chance to write in to us and tell us what makes their kids special or phenomenal, whether it was education, academics, community service, athletics, or wherever it was that made their kid phenomenal. And through this contest, and through them writing in, they have an opportunity to win a prize, which is a $10,000 scholarship,” Walen said. “We had some great entries this year— over a thousand entries, and we narrowed that down to 10. And then we let those 10 people create a video of themselves, and we put it on social media and let America vote.”

Kids 12 and under were eligible to participate. Applicants hailed from all over the country, but it did not stop Yolanda from believing that Miguel could win the 2018 contest.

“When I found out that Miguel won the Ellio’s $10,000 scholarship, I cried happy tears! I said to Miguel, ‘You didn’t win the first time, but you will this time,’”

“I knew Miguel was something special since the first time I met him at St. Ann’s. I love this amazing young man so much! He’s destined for greatness,” stated Yolanda.

Fourteen-Year-Old CEO Celebrates African History Through Business, Education

While Black History Month is certainly an ideal time to celebrate African-American excellence, and historical trailblazers who paved the way for justice, a devoted 14-year-old named Kalimah McKeaver stays busy working in her home studio making clay key chains, bow ties, African activity tubes, African greeting cards, and hair beads throughout the year.

The mission of her company, Dinkra Stylez, LLC is to educate clients about their African heritage through the creation of fun, colorful and engaging products. Kalimah is the CEO of the world’s first craft design firm with this integrated mission. The kid boss who loves her job, teaches ancestral knowledge to individuals of all ages. Her demanding schedule entails participating as a vendor at events, representing her brand as an inspiring leader, teaching and networking.

“My products are geared towards educating girls, boys, men and women from ages three to 103,” Kalimah said. “I wanted to start my company, because I was inspired by other kid entrepreneurs that I read about or saw on TV.”

The Clinton, Maryland resident who started Dinkra Stylez, LLC at the age of 12 is home schooled. She is in the ninth grade. Her mother, Kalimah Abdul-Sabur explained how Kalimah’s passion to teach, create and sell her products began with a school research assignment.

The forward-thinking mother assigned a research project to her daughter about the Ancient Empires of Ghana and how their inventions and contributions benefited modern day society. Kalimah who was in seventh grade at the time, embraced the empowering lesson, which sparked her entrepreneurial journey.

In order to complete the assignment, the ambitious student used encyclopedias and online articles, which were really intended for college students and older researchers. Nevertheless, Kalimah was not pleased with having to gather fascinating information in a boring manner.

“She asked me if she could make something as her final project for the assignment, instead of just writing about the subject. I told her that as long as she retained the information she was free to deliver the final project in any format. She created hand-sculpted clay hair beads adorned with the Adinkra symbols— at that moment Dinkra Stylez was born,” Abdul-Sabur said, also explaining the meaning of the company’s name, Dinkra Stylez. “The name Dinkra is derived from the word ‘Adinkra,’ as in the Adinkra symbols. We just dropped the ‘A’ and borrowed the rest of the letters. We added the word Styles with a ‘Z,’ to indicate that her products (although hand-crafted) were stylish, fun, colorful, and engaging.”

Kalimah McKeaver, 14, is the CEO of the world’s first craft design firm with this integrated mission. The kid boss who loves her job, teaches ancestral knowledge to individuals of all ages.

Courtesy Photo/DinkraStylez, LLC

Kalimah McKeaver, 14, is the CEO of the world’s first craft design firm with this integrated mission. The kid boss who loves her job, teaches ancestral knowledge to individuals of all ages.

Kalimah further explained that she was fascinated with the rich and inspirational heritage of Africa, while doing research for the school project.

“I wanted to find a way to help others experience this same feeling without having to spend countless hours in the library or online,” Kalimah said, “One of the most rewarding aspects of being a teen CEO is getting opportunities to do some pretty cool stuff…. like teaching workshops and meeting new or famous people.”

Although Kalimah is a teen with observable discipline, good manners, and a memorable smile, running her business also requires a great deal of personal sacrifice. Challenging aspects of being a teen CEO include: mastering time management; producing large quantities of her products; and finding a balance between school, work, and fun. However, young Kalimah is able to save some of her profits, and not bother her mother for an allowance.

Learning real-life skills is an added benefit of being a teen business owner who knows that growth is a part of being successful in business now and in the future.

“I definitely needed the skill of patience and the tolerance for failure in learning to make my products. It often takes my attempts to get a product just right before it goes to market to be sold,” Kalimah said. “As a result, patience and a tolerance for failure were the two biggest skills I needed to learn.”

Abdul-Sabur pointed out that as a home schoolteacher, evaluation is key. While reflecting on her daughter’s journey, the supportive mother said that she believes that her student has learned a very important lesson. Anything is possible with a little bit of planning.

“She has learned that the management of time and resources are key components in running a successful business,” Abdul-Sabur added. “Finally, she is learning that entrepreneurship is truly one of her passions in life.”

To learn more about Kalimah McKeaver and her products, visit:

Local Entrepreneur Makes Hair Care History In Airport, Creates Franchise Opportunities

When government workers were recently furloughed, interest in uncovering small business ideas seemed to soar.

Individuals who had never considered entrepreneurship began thinking creatively to alleviate financial uncertainty. Trailblazing women like Cindy Tawiah are an example of what is possible when vision, taking action, remaining persistent and having faith combine over time.

After working as a registered nurse for 13 years but feeling unfulfilled, the domestic violence survivor left the nursing profession to pursue her dream of opening a hair salon and developing hair care products. Back in 2003, even though Tawiah was denied many bank loans and locations to lease, the determined Owings Mills, Maryland, resident kept pressing forward until doors opened for her business venture, “Diva By Cindy.”

“Overcoming obstacles and persevering is key for those who want to be a successful business owner,” Tawiah said while noting how she recently made history in an airport.

Since the strict TSA (Transportation Security Administration) guidelines for carrying liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on luggage became effective in 2006, many passengers have had their beauty products confiscated going through the security line. Tawiah to the rescue! She identified a need and came up with a solution.

In 2017, Tawiah opened and operated a successful kiosk at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). By October of 2018, Tawiah launched the first natural hair care vending machine in a major airport.

Diva By Cindy hair care products may be used on all hair types, including both natural and chemically processed hair. The product line consists of 13 different formulations, which include a moisture system and a growth stimulating system. The products may even be used to address hair loss resulting from chemo- therapy, thyroid medication and high blood pressure medication.

“The vending machine is located inside the terminal on Concourse D, and has our two ounce styling products, as well as full size products,” Tawiah said. “When we first launched in October, we spent a few hours a week showing passengers how to use the machine. Now they are actively approaching it, and taking pictures, and sharing their finds with us. Our machine is called ‘Heaven 1,’ and she is shared on Instagram and Twitter by Divas who meet her. We have women and men buying our (Diva By Cindy) products.”

Ten percent of proceeds from Diva By Cindy products are used to help homeless women as a result of domestic violence. A day of beauty, which is held twice a year allows the women to receive pampering services, including: facials, massages and hairstyling.

The growth of Tawiah’s brand is on the horizon. Recently, Diva By Cindy hair care products were launched in select T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores plus a new moisturizing product for curly hair called “Kurl Pop” will be launched very soon.

Additionally, Tawiah is branching out to help others seeking opportunities to enter the beauty business with a few independent, sales representatives who purchase her products wholesale and sell them to generate revenue for themselves. She is also offering franchise opportunities through Diva By Cindy’s automated concept. A new vending machine location is already in the works.

Tawiah says she has reached another milestone with her first franchisee, Yolanda Brown who will be located at Arundel Mills.

After using Diva By Cindy products and loving them, Brown wanted to be a part of Tawiah’s entrepreneurial venture. Now, the Prince George’s County resident and first franchisee has the chance to be mentored by Tawiah and an opportunity with great potential.

“We have recently joined forces to franchise Diva By Cindy Hair Care Products in a non-traditional way. Mrs. Cindy has revolutionized providing hair care products [and by] mid to late March 2019, we will launch the second vending machine that provides quality hair care products with ease of use,” Brown said. “This is the way of the future for beauty products, and I am excited that Mrs. Cindy chose me to be a partner of a groundbreaking opportunity. We are excited about inspiring and encouraging women to be bold and confident, and that starts with how they feel. Diva by Cindy hair care products are great and your scalp and hair will tell it all.”

For more information about Diva By Cindy’s products or to explore business opportunities, visit:

Anne Arundel County Nonprofit Assists NC Veterans And Uplifts Local Wounded Warriors

Many people believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. Scott Mallory just may agree. His legacy of service partially began with his late father, a linguist in the Air Force, who later became a disabled veteran. He was also later inspired by another veteran in 2010 to think about getting involved any way that the Mallory family could to support wounded warriors.

When asked by the veteran if he had ever visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Walter Reed) located in Bethesda, Maryland, he responded that his father died there. What started out as a heartwarming mission to hand out iPods to wounded veterans at Walter Reed as a Christmas gesture has grown by leaps and bounds.

Mallory’s Crownsville-based nonprofit, “Truckin 4 Troops” was incorporated in January 2011 and since that time, the nonprofit has been supporting wounded veterans from all branches with numerous needs, such as picking them up from the hospital for the first time with their family members after being discharged— in addition to helping with other requested tasks. Additionally, more feats have been accomplished.

All three of Scott and Lynne Mallory’s children have volunteered with Truckin 4 Troops for the past eight years. When Hurricane Florence left a trail of damage in North Carolina, Truckin 4 Troops hit the road to help military families and veterans. Scott, Lynne, their oldest son, Travis Mallory, and Scott’s twin brother, James Mallory, have all been helping to transport 16 campers to North Carolina.

“Our latest mission that we have been very involved in was providing campers and supplies to Marine families at Camp Lejeune that lost their homes during the Florence hurricane in North Carolina,” Scott said. “We have spent over $100,000 in campers and another $8,000 in fuel cost.”

The proactive nonprofit founder is currently paying off a loan that enabled Truckin4Troops to purchase campers for military families and veterans. Leo’s

Vacation Center and Beckley’s Camping Center were extremely helpful in the process of donating campers, and giving Truckin4Troops used trailers at wholesale costs.

“This is a life passion of mine to give back to those who have given so much,” Scott said. “Our mission is to support our military and serve our wounded veterans, every way we can!”

Truckin 4 Troops has the reputation of going the extra mile. For example, a veteran located a news story on Facebook, which led Gabriel Fernandez to reach out to Truckin 4 Troops. Assistance which was provided to improve his family’s living situation, while their home is being rebuilt, reminded him that there are still good people who care.

“Rental homes, hotels, campers and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) trailers were scarce and impossible to get after Hurricane Florence. Our home is uninhabitable and still undergoing repairs. Scott Mallory from Truckin 4 Troops picked me up in Sneads Ferry, N.C. and drove me to Maryland where the campers were more accessible. He opened up his home and introduced me to his family for a night stay over,” said Fernandez, who mentioned that Truckin 4 Troops escorted him back home to make sure that he

arrived safely in Sneads Ferry, N.C. in his motorhome. “Many people [or] businesses and even nonprofits [that] are supposed to help veterans turned me down. Truckin 4 Troops was there for me and my family, when we needed help.”

Local volunteer, Bridgette Lundfelt began lending a hand with Truckin 4 Troops after looking for a way to give back to our military service men and women. Lundfelt says in addition to addressing a variety of needs, Truckin 4 Troops has given hope, healing and life to our severely wounded veterans who could not see any hope from behind the hospital walls of Walter Reed.

“It doesn’t matter how big or small the ask is, from making sure that every grave at the Crownsville Veteran Cemetery was covered with a [Christmas] wreath, to helping veterans or service members move, to fixing their vehicles to bringing supplies and campers to military families in N.C. devastated by Hurricane Florence, etc., Truckin4Troops is there for our military community,” Lundfelt said.

For more information about Truckin 4 Troops or to make a financial donation, visit: To donate gently used living room, bedroom or dining room furniture, email: if you are located in or near Anne Arundel County.

Mother-Daughter Duo Take Home Sally Cultivate’s Big Prize

Thirteen-year-old Lexi Proctor and her mother, Monica Proctor know that big dreams can come true for hopeful entrepreneurs who aspire to have their products sold on the shelves of a major retail store.

September 27, 2018, marked a memorable time in the lives of the Proctors. On this special day, the visionary mother and daughter officially discovered that their Curlanista hair care brand would receive a major boost to grow their female-owned business.

The Marylanders who cater to girls with curly hair won a game-changing prize from Sally Beauty, the largest retailer and distributor of professional beauty products in North America through the Sally Cultivate For women by Women accelerator program.

“Curlanistas won $25,000 in financial support; product distribution at; select local store distribution in Maryland and Virginia; as well as mentorship from the Sally Beauty management team and fellow female brand entrepreneurs,” Proctor said. “Curlanista will also receive the opportunity to place its products directly into the hands of highly sought beauty influencers at one of Sally Beauty’s monthly influencer events.”

Although Proctor maps out all the key pieces to make the Curlanista brand successful as Lexi’s business partner and momager, Lexi sparked the entrepreneurial journey by publishing her coloring book called “Curly Girls Love Your Curls.” The kidpreneur who has a passion for writing embarked upon a mission to promote self-love of curls, before delving into creation of hair care products, with guidance and help from Proctor.

Following her dreams to become an author led Lexi to embrace a second calling. A few years later, the confident teenager found herself pitching Curlanista to a panel of Sally Beauty Supply Executives in Denton, Texas, as a part of the Sally’s contest.

“The most difficult part was waiting to see who would be announced as the top brand. It took about a month before the winner was announced. My family and I were so excited and prayed that my brand would win. That was the hardest part honestly, especially because daily, someone would ask me if I won,” Lexi said, noting how winning money for Curlanista will be utilized. “The $25,000 will be used to help grow my brand. I want to grow my product line and am currently working on a detangling shampoo and a deep conditioner. I will also use the money to attend trade shows, like Bronner Brothers and Ubiquitous. Trade shows, can be very expensive, so this money will really help me grow and get my brand out there. I want Curlanistas to be a household name.”

Proctor explained that Curlanistas Magic Curl Cream, Detangler and Curl Custard which are formulated to make natural curls pop non-stop are now available at 30 Sally’s brick and mortar stores in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as online.

“This is just the beginning. We have a full line of products we look forward to bringing to our beautiful Curlanistas,” Proctor said. “Having Sally Beauty select us as the top brand just feels amazing. I feel great about all the blessings.”

As a teen boss who has had an opportunity to bring her dreams to fruition at a young age, Lexi embraces her blessing with dedication, passion and courage. She notes that youth can do anything they put their mind to do.

“If they have a dream or a goal, they shouldn’t keep it to themselves. They should tell their parents or someone they know who can help them,” Lexi said. “Chase your dreams, work hard and believe in yourself. That’s the secret! I want them (youth) to never give up, and look at me and see that I’m a kid just like them. If I can do it, they can do it, too.”

To support Lexi and her co-founder of the curly girl brand, visit the Sally Beauty website: to purchase Curlanista products.

You may follow the inspiring mother and daughter duo and encourage others to follow @Curlanistas on all social media platforms and to spread the word about Curlanista to friends and family.