United Way of Halifax CEO Jewell Medley recently held a one day retreat and training entitled Key’s to Nonprofit Success. The event was held at Cornerstone Farm Bed and breakfast. The video below is one of the team building exercises that took place.

Year End Self Inventory – What Did You DO?


As 2012 comes to a close, let us take time to reflect. Reflect on our careers, personal lives, friends, family members and loved ones. Did you accomplish everything you set out to do this year? As we look forward to 2013, remember those projects and career moves that you might have placed to the side or life got in the way and you mis-placed your priorities. With the holiday season here, we’re all looking for great gifts and presents under the tree. How about giving yourself a gift this year and work on you? Perhaps you’ve got your game plan ready for 2013 and you just haven’t figured out where to start. Find a mentor. Maybe your resume isn’t quite up to par to compete with others in the workforce. Consider hiring a writer to brush up the YOU that we all know and love…but can’t seem to make things cohesive on paper. Possibly you have dreamed of starting your own business- is it time and are you prepared? Let’s get ready, get moving and get it together for 2013 in our careers and affiliations. I know there is greatness in each one of you! I know there is power in whatever you set your mind to- let it turn to gold. All sprinters start at the finish line, but you will be finished before you start if you never take the risk and seize the opportunity! Let’s get moving. Be a top contender in the coming year! I believe in you- now believe in yourself enough to know that it is possible! Happy holidays and blessings for a triumphant new year!
Just a Jewel …

More than Just the “Pastor’s Wife”

Don’t let the title offend you. For years I had been a people pleaser; always wanting approval from others. The past few years I’ve come to know that I can only be ME. The person that God created me to be…. given to service and sacrifice. My blessings have always come to me by way of my sacrifice. Everything I needed to know in life, I learned in apartment V-129 “the projects” at Woodside Village. V-129 taught me not to judge people, how to lend a helping hand to others, how to love unconditionally, how to explore my creativity, how to cook, how to be content and how to get to the top the right way. Now, I know that some might be surprised to read this, but when my husband became a Pastor 5 years ago, it was my conviction that I was to dim my light and let him shine to his full capacity. I hid my intelligence, gifts and talents purposely so that he could be seen as the bigger “star”…… I love me some me now and that’s not being selfish, its being true to who I am. My hopes, dreams, potential, personality, even my failures on the road to success. I give so much to others and expect so little in return that I’m amazed that somewhere along the line I forgot about V-129 and I became a shadow of my former self. In finding me all over again; dealing with loss, pain and grief, I learned that at the end of the day I’m more than just the “Pastors Wife”. I am an individual, uniquely me. So again don’t be offended…..all and all, the most important lesson I learned at V-129 is that at the end of the day I can always bet on me because I am exceedingly and abundantly more than just the “Pastors Wife”…….

True generosity must benefit both parties. No woman can control her destiny if she doesn’t give to herself as much as she gives of herself.
-Suze Orman

Thank God for my mornings! It’s my time alone. The husband is off to work, the girls are on the bus traveling to school and the little man is asleep in his bed. I welcome the time I spend by myself, with myself and for myself…..in the shower. It gives me time to Relax and Reflect and Regenerate before the start of my day. I guess you could say it’s my secret closet.

I love Calgon’s new Ageless Bath – Milk Bath with Serum Beads. It smells amazing and it’s so luxurious. The scent instantly calms you and makes you feel like you’re off on a deserted island. For less than $5.00 it’s a great gift or pick me up just for you. You know women spend so much time doing other things for other people we’ve got to remember to do something just for ourselves. Hey, even if it is for only a few stolen moments. At least in the shower or bath you can lock the door and in my house there is no key! That’s my time and I dare anyone to knock for any reason unless of course the house is on fire or someone is bleeding. So how do you find your R, R & R balance…..?

Relax- Take time to find out what it is that you’re stressing about. Have a reality check with yourself. What is the problem and ask yourself am I playing an active role as a being a part of the solution to my problem? Stepping back and taking inventory lets you know that the problem isn’t what really stressing you; most of it is how you deal with it. What can you do to calm the seas?

Reflect- Life is a journey. Life has some moments of extreme highs and some disheartening lows. Understand that everything that has happened, is happening or will happen is for your making. All of your experiences good and bad have made you the person you are. As the old song goes I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey! The lessons I’ve learned are priceless. Which reminds me? There comes a time when the insanity has to stop…aka doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result- I’m preaching to the choir on this one but there are some things where we need to either put up or shut up!

Regenerate- Sometimes we must do a personal transformation! To regenerate means to GROW. Is there something you’re doing or not doing that’s standing in the way of you being your ultimate best? Guess what, if it’s not growing or increasing YOU in any way… cut it off and make room for growth. Pray and meditate for instruction and direction. Try forgiveness, it can do wonders. Why not reach out to others? Trust me, no matter what your situation is…there is always someone in a worse condition than you. Go uplift someone else and thank God for the little things. Therefore run out now and get your Calgon—relax, reflect and regenerate, let it take you away!
Just a Jewel…….

It never fails, each time I attend any kind of networking event I always walk away with tons of business cards that all look alike. In turn my mind goes completely blank trying to figure out just who each card belonged to. All the faces and the conversations just start running together and it got me to thinking — am I memorable enough? Are you memorable enough? By the time you walk away has the person already forgotten the conversation and most likely your name too? Well hopefully if you’re reading this and you should, next time you’ll be remembered in a good way.

First things first, you’ve got to stand out. This doesn’t mean go out and by purple or pink hair, but something that people will remember. When I do speaking engagements I usually wear black and accent it with a big bright flower of some sort, a scarf or sassy shoes that make a statement. Keep it subtle but interesting.
Next, be engaged…. Don’t just show up with the idea that you going to get in there and get it over with—trust me I get it, I hate networking but I’ve grown to enjoy it! If you’re engaged to want to get to know other interesting people the laws of chemistry will bring you together. Your magnetic charm will be felt by the rest of the room and even your scent will be irresistible. (Wear something that smells nice- one trick is to use a light scented lotion just before you enter and before you shake any hands, your aroma will linger and leave a lasting impression).

Also stop asking yes or no questions. Ask questions that are open ended. Examples: What are you passionate about, where does your drive come from, how do you stay organized at work….you’ll be surprised at your answers and you just might find a commonality between you and gain a new friend.
Furthermore, talk about yourself…..networking is your chance to showcase your personal brand. It’s a poor frog that won’t praise his own pond- so get over the fear and tell somebody who you are, loud and proud! Lastly but not least have a say in the conversation, there is a fine line between knowing when to hold’em and when to fold’em….don’t give it all away in the first conversation but just enough to let others know that you are intriguing enough that they wanna know more about you. It’s all about the experience of how someone feels in your presence. If you’re memorable, you’ll keep them coming back for more! There’s only one of you so be just that…one of a kind!
Just a Jewel…..

Who Is In Your Inner Circle

So, I’ve been thinking very strongly the past few days about the people in my inner circle. It’s always been quite interesting to me to see people on the up rise of success in their lives and they seem to be so lonely because they don’t really know who their true friends are. In a perfect world everyone would have your back and lend themselves to be your cheerleader. Now that being said, the harsh reality is that most people only want to “get to know you” for what you can offer them. They want to know who you know, how you know them and what can he/she do for you. Since this is the reality it is a smart thing to keep your inner circle small. Do you know who’s IN your circle?

There are some specific people you should have for certain 911 emergencies- but no matter what link they are in the circle the relationship should be a genuine one built on truth and honesty. It’s savvy to truly pick and choose your friends. It sounds cliché but it ain’t nothing but the truth. Now there’s no magic number to tell you…this is how many friends you should have but good common sense will guide you.

Planner – This person doesn’t mind helping you with any task at hand. Is always there when you need them- Johnny on the Spot! They believe in you and your ideas.
Cheerleader- Most winning teams have a support system on the sidelines, so when it comes down to advocating for you and your talents and worth you need this person there with pom-poms and all cheering you all the way.
Team Player- They have similar interest, you share many of the same beliefs and goals and you have fun with this person. This is who you call on when you just want to let your hair down and hang out.
Networker- Who’s who – they know just about everybody who’s anybody and can connect you to who you need to collaborate with for other ventures.
Up lifter- If you’re down and having a bad day, this person can and will do everything in his/her power to lift your spirits. They truly care about you and want to see you happy.
Thinker- This person helps you to think outside of you and the box. They expose you to a new way of evaluating things.
Pilot- You need this person to help you navigate your way through life. They will give you positive and realistic recommendations about any situation and help you weigh out your options.
Comrade- This is your ride or die buddy. They don’t judge you. They will always be the one you call on if you have to vent with good or bad news. They know you inside and out. They will be brutally honest with you and you will never get offended.

Keeping the inner circle small is hard, maintaining it is even harder. I can count my true friends on one hand. I cherish them and I know they cherish me. At the same time one shouldn’t make enemies that they are not prepared to fight.

Broadway in South Boston – A Dreamgirls Review

by Barbara Wilson


If you missed the production of “Dreamgirls” held at the Prizery Theater on March 22-31, you missed a theater event that would have caused your heart to jump for joy. All five of the principal cast members gave stunning performances. Their performances were second to none. These starring roles came to life by spotlighting “the stuff” that good actors are made of. The Dreamgirls are a three girl singing group that performed during the early 60s to the mid 70s. Effie White (Nicole D. Jackson) is a big woman with voice to match. What lungs! Effie’s performance on stage is as big as her voice. She is a powerhouse unto herself. She moves in a smooth way from her vocal part to her speaking part. It was a delight watching her move from lower stage to upper stage seemingly effortlessly. Her finest hour is when she brought the house down singing “I’m not going”. As this character shows another dimension of herself, she is beside herself when she finds out that Curtis (LaVar Medley) has replaced her with a new singer Deena Jones (Jewell Swann Medley). Effie survives and at the end of the play, she rejoins the group as they sing “Hard to Say Goodbye”.

If you are motivated by strong, smart, independent, talented women, you have just met Deena Jones (Jewell Swann Medley). Deena is a good-looking back up singer who does not really want the spotlight of lead vocalist but Curtis (LaVar Medley) tells her that her voice is the sound of the direction of where music is headed. Not only that, he tells her that her good looks will add to the appearance and success of the group. One of Deena’s strongest moments is when her mother gives her blessing by phone stating that she is fine with her joining Dreamgirls. Deena is overcome with happiness and this causes a strong connection between Deena and the audience. It appears that Deena is very comfortable on stage and her magic and talent hold this production together beautifully.

Lorell Robinson (Marquita Jones Graves) conveys a person that you would like to have as a best friend especially since she and Deena are just that. Lorell is a “quiet diva”. She is the person who is the rock of the group. Her voice is smooth, easy and inviting. Lorell, who’s character is not as strong as some of the others; holds her own and brings integrity and determination to the group. When on stage, her presence is hauntingly beautiful and strong. It is this strength of character that she conveys so beautifully to the audience.

Curtis Taylor, Jr. (LaVar Medley) plays the part of a small town promoter who runs Amateur Night. Curtis is a worldly and sometimes untactful person who is bent on making “Dreamgirls” successful not only for the group but also for himself. Curtis moves well on stage and is very believable as a person who works hard to encourage and win public acceptance of “Dreamgirls”. His standout moment is when he realizes that even though his affection has turned from Effie to Deena, neither one of them is interested in him anymore as both women move on to bigger and better careers. Lavar Medley “rocked the character as Curtis Taylor, Jr.

James “Thunder” Early (Arema D-Wan Harris) plays the part of a rhythm and blues singer and womanizer. His interpretation of “Thunder” is that of a winner take all kind of guy. He is desperate for new material and tries to convince his associates that they should take of leap in the dark and gamble beyond conventional rhythm and blues and soul audiences and aim for the pop market. Thunder shows confidence in this role as he convinces his girlfriend of seven years (Lorell Robinson) to stay with him even though he is married. He promises to leave his wife which he never does. The audience is pulled into Thunder’s character as he tells Lorell in a most dramatic manner that he doesn’t beg. He steps up his role when he performs “Cadillac Car”. Thunder has an innate talent for performing and entertaining which will serve him well in his career.

The make-up, wigs and glamorous gowns were a true tribute to the 60s and mid 70s. Music played a significant part in the success of “Dreamgirls” as the audience swayed, clapped their hands and stomped their feet to the beautiful sounds led by band leader/piano player, Chris Oliver. Kudos to the cast members, musicians, technical director, Ernelle Bellamy Choreographers, Pat Crew and Tricia Ricketts, and a standing ovation to director, CHRIS JONES, who captured magnificently the soul of “Dreamgirls”.

You Are Here!

Okay so I’m sitting in my office right now reflecting on where I’m at now, where I was just over a year ago and where I want to be in another year. You know it’s the season to do that…the year has gone by so fast and you think “Where did all the time go?” So every year I do self-inventory. It keeps me balanced and focused. This year I’m looking at my life more figuratively as a map.

At malls all across America there are tons of stores and inside each mall there are vendors with their own specialties and customer niches. If by chance you happen to get lost and lose your way there’s a big square in the middle of the floor on each level to give you directions. It tells you where you are and it pin points how you need to get to your ultimate destination of choice.

So… if my entire being is the mall and everything I am and everything that I do is encompassed inside holding all of my goals, hopes, visions and accomplishments then here’s where I’m at right now…..

Directions for my life……
You Are Here

• I’m A Child of the most high king, signed sealed and delivered from the snare of the enemy
• I have a beautiful family with a loving husband and 3 children
• Rebuilt a struggling Non-profit staple in the community – going from life support to being fully staffed and thriving
• I love my day-job as the CEO/Executive Director for a non-profit organization where I can be passionate all day long about helping people
• I wrote, produced, co-directed and acted in my own theatre production Behind the Makeup to 3 sold out shows in a prestigious theater
• I became more community oriented and focused on the social issues that need awareness in my community by serving on various boards and committees
• Enrolled back in college after taking a break to focus on some of my shorter goals
• I have become the ultimate networker / on a good day…I walk into a room and demand attention. Not because of what I say but just because of who I am. This is paramount only because I’m used to be very shy. I learned how to become engaged in conversation and also how to be engaging when talking to others that I meet for the first time
• I learned to love myself completely this year

I’m sure there are a few more things that I could mention but right now I want to give myself a round of applause….Bravo! No vanity intended… but just like the mall with all the different facets; I’m a complicated lady. I wear many hats from motherhood to the boardroom, back home to love on my husband then I take time to work on my spiritual growth.

I’ll never say I’m a superwoman but today I want to applaud all the ladies who are doing the darn thing! Accept that “YOU ARE HERE” and own it just for today. You’ve come this far and you have so much to be thankful for. You’ve made strides that you never thought you would be able to put on a resume much less even think about. But it’s much more than that- love you enough to encourage yourself.

Speak positive things and engulf yourself around a small circle of positive people. I say small because opinions come a dime a dozen- and at the end of the day you need real people around you who will love you enough to tell you the truth on a good or a bad day.

Now while we’re on this map so to speak always have a plan of safety— an exit strategy: Life is just that….its life and stuff happens! Some things we don’t plan for and when those things come along to try to turn our world upside down just step back look at the map and know that everything will work out for your good. I’m proud of me for where I am now and I expect that I WILL grow from this lesson that the universe is trying to teach me. Don’t give up the battle, keep fighting and every year create a plan for your life on purpose. Live on purpose, live with creativity, live with drive, live with zestfulness, live with love and give love, live to leave a legacy. You are here…..is it where you want to be?
Just a jewel…..
Sealed with Chocolate Kisses,
Jewell S. Medley