Tracy Wil­sonMourn­ing’s Hats Off Lun­cheon funds trans­for­ma­tions

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MICHELLE HOLLINGER

MI­AMI - Tracy Wil­son-Mourn­ing is a woman on a mis­sion. In ad­di­tion to carv­ing out her own life’s jour­ney, she is a wife, mother, phi­lan­thropist and one of the new­est mem­bers of the Delta Sigma Theta Soror­ity, Inc. The stat­uesque beauty has ac­quired wis­dom, in­sight and courage as it re­lates to liv­ing life on pur­pose and she’s de­ter­mined to help young girls bet­ter nav­i­gate their jour­ney by pour­ing what she knows into them.

Wil­son-Mourn­ing cre­ated the Honey Shine or­ga­ni­za­tion as a plat­form for her and other pro­fes­sional women to help young girls build their con­fi­dence and learn to live from their unique­ness. The or­ga­ni­za­tion hosts its 16th an­nual Hats Off Lun­cheon on May 4 at the Hil­ton Mi­ami Down­town (1601 Bis­cayne Boule­vard), with pro­ceeds go­ing to fund Camp Honey Shine Sum­mer En­rich­ment pro­gram at the Car­roll­ton School of the Sa­cred Hearts in Co­conut Grove.

This year’s event, themed Sweet Six­teen, will be hosted by tele­vi­sion an­chor Louis Aguirre and will honor Sy­b­rina Ful­ton, mother of Trayvon Martin; the 17-year old who was mur­dered in 2012 while walk­ing home from the store while vis­it­ing his fa­ther in San­ford, Florida.

“It’s re­ally an honor to be able to rec­og­nize her for her strength. She’s such a beau­ti­ful ex­am­ple of how, when life is cruel, you have to push through and make some­thing out of the pain and trauma,” said Wil­son-Mourn­ing, whose hus­band is for­mer Mi­ami Heat bas­ket­ball great, Alonzo Mourn­ing.

When she speaks about her "Honey Bugs," the term of en­dear­ment for girls en­rolled in the Honey Shine pro­gram, the pride in Wil­son-Mourn­ing’s voice is strong.

“We have quite a few,” when asked to share a few suc­cess sto­ries. “All of our girls are just amaz­ing. We have one Honey Bug that’s a Gates scholar. We have Honey Bugs who never thought about col­lege, in col­lege,” she said. “It’s al­ways a big suc­cess when they go off to col­lege and they come back to work or serve the pro­gram in some way.”

The trans­for­ma­tion the girls un­dergo is a thrill for Wil­son-Mourn­ing, who said many of them come in “hunched over, their heads were down, no eye con­tact.”

Their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the sum­mer camp and the year-round pro­gram­ming that in­cludes work­shops ev­ery other Satur­day and ex­po­sure to pro­fes­sional women who serve as men­tors, helps the girls be­come more self-as­sured, she ex­plained.

“My fa­vorite thing is when you see them all grown up. The con­fi­dence in them. Shoul­ders back, heart open to God, crown on your head.”

Be­cause, like adult women, girls make bet­ter de­ci­sions when their self­es­teem is strong, she en­cour­ages the Honey Bugs to per­se­vere when ob­sta­cles ap­pear.

“Life’s go­ing try to knock that crown off your head. But that’s your crown given to you by God. Straighten that crown up and keep it mov­ing,” she said. For more in­for­ma­tion or to pur­chase tick­ets, visit Honeyshine.org.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF ALONZO MOURN­ING CHAR­I­TIES

HONEY SHINE: The Six­teenth An­nual Hats Off Lun­cheon on May 4 fea­tures guests dress­ing up and don­ning their fa­vorite brims. Pro­ceeds fund the Honey Shine, Inc.'s an­nual sum­mer camp for girls from eight to 18-years old. Tracy Wil­son-Mourn­ing, shown above at last year's lun­cheon, is the pro­gram's founder.

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