Women’s Fair of­fers day of in­spi­ra­tion, em­pow­er­ment

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

More than a hun­dred women en­joyed a day of in­spi­ra­tion, mo­ti­va­tion and ed­u­ca­tion on Satur­day at the Women’s Fair held at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land’s La Plata cam­pus, a sold out event spon­sored by the Charles County Cham­ber of Com­merce.

With break­fast and lunch pro­vided, the fair of­fered many ex­hibitors, mo­ti­va­tional speak­ers, yoga de­mon­stra­tions, 10-minute mas­sages, and an ed­u­ca­tional health and well­ness area, which in­cluded free blood pres­sure test­ing and skin cancer screen­ings. The event also served as a valu­able net­work­ing op­por­tu­nity for women for all ages.

Dur­ing the break­out ses­sions in the morn­ing and af­ter­noon, the women had an op­por­tu­nity to listen to their choice of four pre­sen­ta­tions.

Fon­tella Moody helped mo­ti­vate those in at­ten­dance to pur­sue their goals, and dis­cussed how to over­come ob­sta­cles along the way, as she pre­sented “Lean In & Let Go.”

Nicole Daniels, whose pre­sen­ta­tion was ti­tled “The Truth: Stress, Work and Liv­ing a Bal­anced Life,” taught, for ex­am­ple, how im­por­tant it is to carve out qual­ity fam­ily time amid a busy work sched­ule.

The ti­tle of Joyce Cool’s pre­sen­ta­tion, “A Man is Not a Fi­nan­cial Plan,” speaks for it­self, em­pow­er­ing women to seek their own fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence, and how to ac­com­plish that.

Those seek­ing re­lax­ation and med­i­ta­tion cer­tainly en­joyed “Nour­ish­ing Your Mind Body and Soul” with Tracey Mor­ris, owner of Ther­a­peu­tic Mas­sage and Well­ness Spa in La Plata.

The day was high­lighted by key­note speaker LaTisha Durham, whose in­spi­ra­tional story moved some au­di­ence mem­bers to tears. Raised by a sin­gle par­ent in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Durham now works as a com­puter sys­tems en­gi­neer and air nav­i­ga­tion pro­gram lead for the Navy’s E-2D Ad­vanced Hawk­eye re­con­nais­sance air­craft at Patux­ent River Naval Air Sta­tion.

“I never in a mil­lion years thought I would be stand­ing here,” she said, adding that she’s al­ways just been fo­cused on ac­com­plish­ing the task on hand, whether that be fig­ur­ing out how to put to­gether a com­puter at a young age, study­ing for an exam, or work­ing on Naval air­crafts. “… Hav­ing peo­ple reach out to ask if I can speak, it’s all so sur­real.”

“I love help­ing peo­ple,” Durham con­tin­ued. “If I could just mo­ti­vate or in­spire some­body to do some­thing, es­pe­cially if its in en­gi­neer­ing, and they did it be­cause of me, then I fulfilled my legacy.”

For many, Durham’s speech was the high­light of the day.

“Oh the key­note, she was fantastic,” said Sandy Wash­ing­ton, founder of Life­Styles Inc., a non­profit ded­i­cated to help­ing those in need. “… Her story, her story just touched me. I looked around the room, and I looked at all those young girls, and looked at their faces as they were hear­ing her story.”

“A reg­u­lar per­son, com­ing up with a sin­gle par­ent and com­ing from where she did and end­ing up where she is, and still help­ing young peo­ple, young women, go into a ca­reer that just didn’t seem pos­si­ble,” Wash­ing­ton said. “Incredible.”

Also in at­ten­dance was Shadonna Green, 25, of In­dian Head who started her own house­clean­ing com­pany last year, Rea­son­able Clean­ing LLC, af­ter work­ing in the in­dus­try for six years.

“I got to meet a lot of new peo­ple, women who were here to em­power each other,” she said. “... There are net­works of women who want to en­cour­age other women, and that’s some­thing I learned to­day.”

Be­ing a busi­ness owner, she said, some­times made her feel that she was on her own, but “com­ing here to­day made me feel like I have a com­mu­nity of women who are there to sup­port and em­power me to do what I want to do in the fu­ture.”

The event con­cluded with raf­fle draw­ings, and all the left­over food was do­nated to the Robert J. Fuller House and other home­less shel­ters in the county.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY AN­DREW RICHARD­SON

The day was high­lighted by key­note speaker LaTisha Durham, whose in­spi­ra­tional story moved some au­di­ence mem­bers to tears. Raised by a sin­gle par­ent in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Durham now works as a com­puter sys­tems en­gi­neer and pro­gram lead for the Navy’s E-2D Ad­vanced Hawk­eye re­con­nais­sance air­craft at Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent River.

Af­ter de­liv­er­ing her speech and an­swer­ing ques­tions, LaTisha Durham greets a young girl who at­tended Satur­day’s women’s fair, held at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land’s La Plata Cam­pus, an event spon­sored by the Charles County Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Ther­a­peu­tic Mas­sage and Well­ness Spa, based in La Plata, pro­vided free 10-minute mas­sages dur­ing the women’s fair.

Shadonna Green, 25, of In­dian Head, who started her own house­clean­ing busi­ness last year, Rea­son­able Clean­ing LLC, was one of many young women who at­tended the women’s fair for net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Close to 150 women at­tended the day-long event.

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