Celebrating women in the workforce
Latonia Oakley’s nonprofit dedicated to empowering teen girls came out of a dark period in her life.
“It was through my barrenness that God helped me to birth this organization,” she said Thursday at the second annual Success Becomes Her luncheon to benefit the Women’s Economic Equity Council.
Oakley, who founded Un-Rappin’ The Gift Inc. in 2012, was voted the WEE Council’s 2014 Woman of the Year.
Her realization that she can’t have children inspired her to start a nonprofit, which helps girls ages 13 to 18 years old with strategies for developing positive self-perception and self-esteem.
“For whatever the reason, whenever we give someone a gift we tend to wrap it up in tissue paper to disguise it before we give it to them,” she said. “Our job at Un-Rappin’ The Gift, we help take the tissue paper off of them. We help to unwrap their gift so it can go towards God’s original purpose for their life.”
The council also presented its Power of One award to Kanika Turrentine, the founder of Infinite Possibilities Inc., which seeks to promote responsibility, growth and self-sufficiency in families headed by single mothers.
Turrentine, a native of Vance County, had been working in Vance County Schools for about six years before she left teaching and understood that God had a different plan for her.
“About four years ago, I submitted my resignation not knowing what I was going to do or where I was going to go, but all I knew was I had a vision from God who said I needed to go, and there was more for me to do,” she said. “I get up everyday despite how I am feeling to help other women just like me who are raising children by themselves and society says that they can’t make it. This award is not for me but for everyone who is raising children by themselves.”
The original Women’s Economic Equity program offered educational assistance and support services to disadvantaged women pursuing careers in health care.
The Women’s Economic Equity Boutique, which opened in November, will carry on the former program that ran for more than seven years and helped 300 women but lost its funding in June.
The updated WEE project provides unemployed, underemployed or dislocated women from the four-county area with a six-week employability skills class, career coaching and support services.
Sandra Williams, who participated in the program, said she has gained more confidence in herself.
“My goals are to get my master’s degree, to elevate in the job I am in and to be more successful and gain more knowledge,” she said at Thursday’s event.
Velvanique Seward, another participant, said the program helped her during a difficult time in her life.
“I was recently employed and then when the economy went down, I went down with it,” she said. “It gave me a whole lot of confidence. I feel like a brand new person.”
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