WWABC 2020: March 14th, 2020

Who am I?

I am Charlotte Miller-Lacy; I was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania 60 years ago.   I am empowered, freely and passionately following my dreams and passion to leave a legacy of excellence.

I have been blessed to spend 27 years with my awesome husband David L. Lacy.   We are parents to 5 young men and 1 bonus daughter, 7 beautiful, smart and funny granddaughters and 2 grandsons.  I am many things to many people one of the best things is being known as Momma Lacy to a Community.

  I am the Founder / National Executive Director for a 501©3, I Am My Sister’s Keeper (MSK).  I am the Founder of the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP).  I was instrumental in helping youth find their voice and create the #302Gunsdown movement in Wilmington Delaware.  I am a Co-Founder of My Sister, My Friend, I Celebrate You! I was instrumental in bringing to the State of Delaware and the City of Wilmington one of the most innovative in home early learning programs for low income families of 4 years olds getting them Kindergarten ready.  I am passionate with helping people be the best version of themselves and finding their “Why”!

I was educated in the Philadelphia school system.  Studied at Community College of Philadelphia, Temple University and have an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from University of Phoenix.  I have been employed by Pathways of Delaware at Parkway Academy North School for 10 years.  We are located in Wilmington Delaware in the 6th District of the Hedgeville Community.  I hold the position of Director of Student Services.  In that position I serve as the liaison between Parkway Academy Alternative Placement and 6 school districts within New Castle County that we service.  Parkway Academy is an Alternative Placement for at-risk students who have met with infractions against the code of conduct within their prospective schools and are sent to Parkway Academy for redirection and counseling.   This unique position also allows me to be an advocate for at-risk students and their families.  Connecting and partnering with schools as well as community organizations like United Way of Delaware, Children and Families First, Family Resource Coalition, YWCA, Wilmington City Council, Wilmington Police Department, New Castle Government, Hedgeville Civic Association, Brown Town Civic Association, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, University of Delaware, Delaware Technical & Community College, St. Hedwig Church, Polish Community Association, Negativity Prep, Delaware Center of Horticulture, and  Every Man Counts, Girls Inc. and many others.  

In my tenure at Parkway Academy I have connected the school to the community and the community to the school.  This partnership has proved to be a valuable asset to the State of Delaware as well as the City of Wilmington and the community of Hedgeville.   In 2010 Parkway Academy North moved its school into Wilmington.  Not knowing anything about this community I set out to find out who, what, when and where.  I started by reaching out to the political figures, local merchants, civic associations and the youth in the community.  In our move Parkway Academy acquired a gym.  Around that time Wilmington Delaware had been identified in USA Today “Murder Town USA”   https://amp.usatoday.com/story/news/local/2015/03/20/wilmimgton-students-campaign-end-violence/25080075/ I found out the local Jackson Street Boys and Girls club had closed down the year before we moved into the neighborhood.  The youth in the neighborhood didn’t have any place for a safe haven to go after school or during the summer.   I presented a proposal to the Executive Director to allow me to open our Parkway Academy Gym to the community afterschool and on the weekends. I remember the day like it was yesterday my family and I opened the doors to clean out the facility to get it ready for the community.  There was a little boy around 10 or 11 years old across the street in the parking lot shooting a basketball into a trash can.  He was watching us bring out trash and asked what was going on in the building.  I told him we were cleaning out the building for him to play basketball on a real court.  His eyes lit up with excitement.  I asked if he had other friends who needed a place to play basketball, he replied yes.  He went on to tell me about the outside basketball courts that were a few blocks away.  He said the bigger boys always take over the courts.  I allowed him to come in to see the gym; he left and brought back 9 other little boys.  We laughed and explained we were cleaning it out first and getting it ready and they could not play that day.  They were disappointed but agreed to help us with the trash in preparation of the gym opening the following weekend.  

With support from Pathways of Delaware I founded the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) within that year we were able to house the Above the Rim Basketball League the first in Hedgeville for youth with or without the fundamentals of regulation basketball.  Above the Rim Basketball Team under the coaching of my husband David Lacy went on to win the Community Championship in all age brackets.  The local newspaper, The News Journal wrote an excellent article about this team, some of the boys had never played regulation basketball before.  The real amazing thing about that team was that little boy who was once shooting a basketball in a trash can was now playing with a structured team with uniforms on an inside court.

 That same year YEP became the meeting place for several community organizations, a resource for community, families, well as social organizations.  The Dynamic Divas Dance Team under the leadership of Ms. Viola Johnson was one of those groups.  Dynamic Divas has gone on to win numerous local and national championships.   This also opened the doors for a social meeting place for young girls as well.

The Youth Empowerment Program opened its doors to chess clubs, summer camps, and afterschool programing for the youth in the community.   Through a partnership with the City of Wilmington a food program was added for the afterschool program as well as the summer program.  There was a need for this meal program because of the food insecurity problems in this community.  Alcohol Anonymous groups for adults and youth with parents with addictions also had a space to meet.   Brown Town and Hedgeville Civic Associations had a meeting place again.  The Delaware Center for Horticulture came on board to teach youth at the center about their environment.  The Youth Empowerment Program became the place that the Jackson Street Boys and Girls club once was for the community.  Ten years later my husband and I are no longer managing the facility but it is still the place to be in the community servicing thousands of youth and families in the Brown Town, Hedgeville and surrounding communities. 

My community involvement and dedication to the 6th District has been extensive.   So much so, that everyone believes I not only work in the district but also live in the district.  In which I do not.  If there is something happening in the district I am there.  If nothing is happening I am making positive things happen.  The benefit with being committed to being the change I want to see in the community is the positive relationships you build with the community and the change makers.  Those relationships are important when you need to advocate for our youth and what they need to thrive in this community.

 I have organized one of the biggest volunteer events for the last 9 years in the 6th District bringing together more than 1500 volunteers from all over the state of Delaware and Pennsylvania for a community clean up honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Below is a clip of the community clean up and the official ribbing cutting for the Youth Empowerment Program with my husband David Lacy and our grandson Jeremiah helping to cut the ribbon. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt48aAWV3a0&feature=c4-overview&list=UUdLMEgd4Lx3wv7z0EN8AnaQ)

My passion has always been helping to build people up, as a child I did it by making my family and friends laugh and not to concentrate on what was wrong but thinking positively about what was right. This is something I learned from my grandmother who was truly a people person.

My best friend from grade school Paulette Robinson-Wilkerson and I Co-Founded the organization My Sister, My Friend, I Celebrate You.   We have been friends for 55 years and decided to create an organization that would honor women who valued the unique bonds of sisterhood, who helped other women in their communities, churches, schools and in the workplace to find their voice and be empowered to follow their dreams?  We would seek out nominations to honor 7 women with the “Purple Passion Shero Award” at a Banquet in their honor.  At the 2016 Banquet I announced I was starting a group for young girls ages 12-18.  “I Am My Sister’s Keeper” A Rites of Passage program.

In my position as Director of Student Services I have the opportunity to connect with the students and families on an intimate basses.   Learning about situations that may have lead that student to Alternative Placement.  As well as being a resource for other services and resources needed in the home to get that student and family back on track. 

 After listening to the young ladies at YEP and Parkway Academy I decided they needed something I had while growing up.  They needed to be surrounded by a Village of women to help them through this Labyrinth of Life.  They needed I Am My Sister’s Keeper a Rites of Passage mentoring program for at-risk girls ages 12-18. MSK believes all youth are at-promise. 

Most of us who are over 25 can look back into our lives and remember that one special person who mentored us.  Rather it was the neighbor next door, that cool teacher, the clerk at the grocery store or church mother; someone made an impression on us.  I Am My Sister’s Keeper takes it to another level.  I solicited the help of a dynamic young lady by the name of Melody Phillips who brought into my Vision and Mission and has helped I Am My Sister’s Keeper fly.   We supply multiply mentors because our life takes many turns and twist.  What helped you before might not help you now and you need another go to. I Am My Sister’s Keeper girls go through an evidence base Right of Passage curriculum-m that help them move through the adolescence years of growth into adulthood.  After each level is achieved MSK girls have a celebration to celebrate their accomplishments by exposing them to trips, experiences and opportunities they might not experience if they were not a part of this experience.   I Am My Sister’s Keeper is in our 3rd program year.  We have received testimonies from parents and girls attesting to how happy they are to have a program like this available to young girls 12-18 especially at this critical stage of finding out who they are and why they exist.  I Am My Sister’s Keeper and Founder has received tributes from the Delaware House of Representatives and the City of Wilmington as well as a Proclamation from New Castle County Government Executive Matthew Meyers for the great work we do on behalf of youth especially  girls and women. 

I Am My Sister’s Keeper is looking at a very bright future.  We have expanded into 3 other states, Pennsylvania 2018-2019 Program year.  Maryland, Texas and Atlanta 2019-2020 program year.   In August, September and October of 2019 we launched several other programs.

  • UPSTART Early learning program for low income families with 4 years old.
  • This program supplies free interned, laptops, and academic coaches for parents in their homes, through a grant from the Longwood Foundation
  • MSK EDGE program for boys and girls in grades 9-12
    1. This program will supply soft skills, resume writing, dress for success on a budget, finance class on budgeting, checks and balances, check writing.
  • MSK Next Generation Confidence Club  for girls 6-11
    1. This will include etiquette, cooking, STEM, etc.
  • MSK Rites of Passage for girls ages 12-18
  • REBOOT Program 2019-2020
    • This program is several workshop for empowering women
      • Stress management
      • Mindfulness
      • Self-care
      • How to talk to your teens

I Am My Sister’s Keeper has a working board with willing and eager volunteers who are trained in Emotional Intelligence, Restorative Practice, IM40 and soon to be Trauma Informed.   These unique groups of individuals are determined to cross the generational lines being the change we want to see in our communities.

One of my best quotes is:

When you wake up in the morning you have 2 simple choices:

“Go back to sleep and dream, or wake up chase and accomplish those dreams,

Choose wisely”!

 The five Principles that have framed my journey to success are;

Faith, Family, Patience, Persistence and a Positive attitude!

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